San Antonio school districts lay out COVID-19 policies as cases continue to surge

Negative COVID-19 test not required to return to school, CDC says

SAN ANTONIO – Seven of the city’s 16 school districts, including three of the city’s largest, have laid out the COVID-19 policies each has in effect as students, teachers, and staff who’d fallen ill prepare to return to campus.

Some follow CDC guidelines, others rely on the Texas Education Agency regarding how long the quarantine period should be.


“We do not require a test to return. Individuals can test positive for up to a month or so after their initial diagnosis. The key is that they’re home during the period of being contagious. The current recommendation from the CDC is 5 days,” said Brandon Oliver, spokesman for the East Central Independent School District.


“In Edgewood ISD, we do not require proof of a negative Covid test to return to school for students/staff. EISD continues to offer weekly COVID tests to all students (with parent permission) and staff (voluntary). We are also actively working with our health care partners to offer future community vaccine clinics in our district. Lastly, EISD is still in a mask mandate, so all students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks,” said Keyhla Calderon-Lugo, spokeswoman for the Edgewood Independent School District.


“We ask that our students stay home for 5 days after testing positive, as noted in our safety plan below,” said Mariana Veraza, spokeswoman for the Harlandale Independent School District.

She also said, “We actually offer PCR tests every Tuesday for ALL of our students and staff. We have had this partnership with Community labs all year.”


“There is no requirement for a negative test in order to return if quarantine guidelines are followed. But, in order to return earlier, yes,” said Aubrey Chancellor, spokeswoman for the North East Independent School District. Chancellor provided the following information below.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, he/she will isolate at home for 5 days after the day symptoms began, or after the day their positive test was collected if they have not had symptoms. The student may discontinue home isolation after 5 days if they:

  • Are without symptoms or their symptoms are resolving, AND
  • Have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours, AND
  • Will wear a face mask consistently and correctly when around others for an additional 5 days

If the student continues to have symptoms that are not resolving after 5 days, they will isolate at home until:

  • At least 24 hours fever free without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND
  • Improvement in symptoms
  • Students will isolate following a COVID-19 diagnosis without an attendance penalty.
  • Students experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness may return to school when they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, other symptoms have improved, AND one of the following criteria have been met:
  • 5 days have passed since symptoms began
  • Obtain a note from a medical professional clearing the student or employee to return based on an alternate diagnosis
  • Obtain a negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test
  • Obtain a negative antigen (rapid) COVID-19 test no sooner than Day 3 after symptoms began

Northside ISD

NISD spokesperson Barry Perez said the district accepts positive results from both rapid and PCR tests as well as an alternative diagnosis by medical providers. Additional testing may be required depending on individual circumstances.

According to NISD’s online protocols, three criteria need to be met for readmittance on campus:

  1. at least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  2. at least 24 hours have passed since the student had a fever (without fever reducing medication)
  3. the student has had improvement of additional symptoms (cough, etc.).

If the student has tested positive or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but has not had any symptoms they can return when 5 days have passed since the date of the positive test/diagnosis (return on the 6th day). Without an alternative diagnosis, a negative PCR test would be necessary for a student to return to school prior to 5 days.

“At this time, we are working to host additional testing sites across the district to help alleviate the extended wait time for test results and to help meet increased demand,” Perez said.


Laura Short, spokeswoman for the San Antonio Independent School District, provided a letter sent to parents welcoming their students for the spring semester. It also details quarantine procedures based on the CDC and Metro Health.

Testing Following Isolation

  • Metro Health in accordance with the CDC guidance does not require a test at the end of isolation.
  • Some people may remain positive by PCR test beyond the period of expected infectiousness.
  • The importance of a positive antigen test late in the course of illness is unclear and does not necessarily mean a person can easily spread the virus.

Schertz Cibolo Universal City ISD

SCUCISD officials said their policy can be found online.

Southside ISD

“We are following TEA’s guidance which is 10 days for students,” said Randy Escamilla, spokesman for the Southside Independent School District.

Regarding testing:

  • If diagnosed/test confirmed COVID positive, students stay home for 10 days. We do not require a negative test to return to classes once symptoms are improving or resolved.
  • If symptomatic and results are negative with a rapid test, we require students to stay home until a follow-up PCR test confirms test results. We will also accept a doctor’s note releasing a student to return back to class. We ask that doctors consider testing all symptomatic children no matter what their age.
  • If the individual is suspected of having (not test confirmed to be positive) comes back with a negative test, the individual can return to school earlier than 10 days.


“Symptomatic students must provide a negative PCR if they want to return before the 5-day quarantine is up and they have not tested positive,” said Jenny Collier, spokeswoman for the Southwest Independent School District, who also provided the following information.

“For students that have no symptoms but test positive, they are required to stay home until 5 days after their positive test. If students want to return prior to the 5-day isolation/quarantine that the CDC recommends they must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR or they may return with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test provided they have a doctor’s note clearing them to return. Another option is to have clearance from a physician in lieu of a negative COVID PCR test or they stay home for 5 days and may return on Day 6 wearing a mask as long as they do not have fever and symptoms are improving,” Collier said.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.