Respiratory Illness Guidance


Respiratory viral diseases include flu, RSV and COVID-19. CDC updated its guidance on these diseases on Friday, March 1, 2024. The CT Department of Public Health issued updated Respiratory Viral Disease Guidance [Spanish] on March 15, 2024. This information is consistent with the CDC guidance for managing viral respiratory diseases including COVID-19, Flu and RSV.

COVID-19 remains a health risk to families across the state. OEC continues to recommend that child care and youth camp programs follow:


CDC’s updated guidance recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate — staying home and away from others. How long depends on their symptoms. They may return to normal activities when they are:

  • Fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications (e.g. ibuprofen, acetaminophen) and
  • Other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours

Note that depending on the length of symptoms, this period could be shorter, the same, or longer than the previous guidance for COVID-19.

After you return to normal activities

Some people are still contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period. Taking extra precautions can lower the chance of spreading respiratory viruses to others.

Upon return to normal activities, people should take added precaution over the next 5 days, such as:

  • Taking more steps for cleaner air
  • Enhancing hygiene practices
  • Wearing a well-fitting mask
  • Keeping a distance from others
  • Getting tested for respiratory viruses when they will be around other people indoors

If the person develops fever or starts to feel worse after they have gone back to normal activities, they should isolate again until the conditions to return to normal activities are met.

These updated recommendations apply to all community settings, including schools and child care. Schools and child care providers are encouraged to review and update their viral respiratory disease policies to operationalize the latest CDC guidance, in particular changes to the recommended COVID-19 isolation period.


OEC recommends:

  • Mask wearing as part of a return to normal activities after a period of staying home and away from others while sick
  • Programs have a written policy regarding mask wearing that they share with families and staff
  • Programs partner with families who want their child to wear a mask, even if it’s not required (for example, because they have immune-compromised family member at home or want to stay healthy before a vacation)


How to help young children wear masks

This flyer about helping young children wear masks includes important information and resources you can share with families. You can also check out this flyer:
Help Your Kids Become Mask-Wearing Superheroes (English)

OEC COVID-19 Memos

Read the final COVID-19 memo about the end of the public health emergency declaration.

You can also explore our archive of expired memos.


Child care centers, group child care homes, and youth camps are required to report outbreaks of COVID-19. Learn more about disease reporting.

Reports of any suspected or confirmed outbreak in a school or child care setting is immediately reportable by telephone to both DPH (860-509-7994) and the local health department where the school or child care facility is located. School and child care facilities should continue to work closely with local public health to identify and investigate suspected outbreaks and implement mitigation strategies to limit disease transmission.


OEC recommends:

  • People with symptoms of COVID-19 or influenza should consider testing
    • This is particularly true of people at increased risk of severe illness (e.g. older adults, people with underlying conditions) that would benefit from antiviral treatment
  • Staff should test themselves for COVID-19 if they have symptoms or (have bee exposed) and follow CDC guidance
  • Staff should not administer COVID-19 tests to children enrolled in their programs — instead, ask an adult in the child’s family to test the child
Last updated March 28, 2024