Updated Guidance for Respiratory Viruses including COVID-19

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department for Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) have updated their guidelines to align with the updated CDC guidance issued on March 1, 2024. The CDC and DESE no longer require a 5-day isolation upon testing positive for Covid-19.


New guidance for respiratory viruses including Covid-19

  • Stay home and away from others, returning to normal activities only when symptoms are improving and the person has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 and flu. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting treatment if you test positive.
  • Stay away from others in your household. Wear a mask when you have to be around them.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces (such as countertops, handrails, and doorknobs) often.

You should stay home even if you don’t know what virus is making you sick.

Upon returning to normal activities, individuals are encouraged to take these additional measures for 5 days to prevent disease spread:

  • enhancing hygiene practices,
  • wearing a well-fitting mask,
  • keeping a distance from others,
  • increasing ventilation to clean air,
  • utilizing indoor air filters

These measures are especially important to protect those most vulnerable, including people over age 65 and people who are immunocompromised.

  • The full CDC respiratory virus guidance update can be found here.
  • The MDPH updates can be found here.
  • The full press release by the Brookline Department of Public Health can be found here.
  • PSB guidelines on when to keep your child home can be found here.

Respiratory viruses remain a public health threat, but more than 98% of the U.S. population now has some protective immunity against Covid-19. Together, we can use a unified approach to protect ourselves and our community. Let’s work together to keep Brookline healthy.


Respiratory Virus Guidance Snapshot


Prevention steps and guidance include:

  • Staying up to date with vaccination against flu, Covid-19, and RSV if eligible
    • Everyone ages 5 years and older should get one dose of an updated Covid-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness.
    • Covid-19 vaccines are still available at no cost to most people living in the U.S. through their private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid plans. To find a Covid-19 vaccination site, visit: vaccines.gov
    • The CDC’s Bridge Access Program provides no-cost Covid-19 vaccines to adults 18 years and older without health insurance and adults whose insurance does not cover all Covid-19 vaccine costs. For more information visit: vaccines.gov
    • People who are homebound are still eligible to receive an in-home Covid-19 vaccine through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in-home Covid-19 Vaccination Program. Call the in-home vaccination central intake line at (833)-983-0485 to schedule an appointment
    • Free at-home Covid-19 tests are available at the Brookline Department of Public Health & Human Services and the Brookline Public Libraries (all branches) while supplies lasts.
  • Practicing good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue and sanitizing or washing hands often with soap and water
  • Improving air quality by opening windows, utilizing air purifiers, or gathering outdoors
  • Staying home upon development of respiratory symptoms