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How and When to Quarantine

What does it mean to quarantine?

You have been in close contact with someone who has, or is suspected to have COVID, so it is important for you to stay home, separate yourself from others and monitor your health.

You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID.

To prevent you from unintentionally spreading COVID to uninfected people, avoid contact with others during the quarantine period. Stay home. Do not go to work, school or public areas. Do not allow visitors, and separate yourself from others in your home (unless they are also in quarantine). Do not handle pets or other animals. Do not prepare or serve food to others.

This will help prevent the spread of disease that can occur before you know you are sick, or if you are infected with the virus but have no symptoms.

When do I need to quarantine?

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID should quarantine. A limited number of isolation rooms have been set aside for residential students who are infected or symptomatic. All others will be required to quarantine in place (for those individuals who have been exposed and are asymptomatic only) or isolate/quarantine at home.

It is considered close contact if:

  • You were within six feet of someone who has COVID for at least 15 minutes.
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID.
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them).
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils.
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

Compliance with isolation and quarantine orders will be monitored and enforced. Agreement to this precaution will be a requirement for faculty and staff and will be a requirement for admission and returning to campus for students.

Residential students in isolation or quarantine will receive food delivery and periodic check-ins; however if symptoms become severe, paramedics will be called. If the student does not qualify for hospital admission, but is too sick to remain in housing, the student’s emergency contact will be notified to make alternate arrangements.

If I am in quarantine and test negative for COVID-19, can I stop quarantine?

Unfortunately, a negative test result only captures a person’s health at a single point in time. In other words, a test measures infection, not exposure.

When a person is exposed to COVID-19, virus can pass from the sick person to those that they have a close contact with. If shared, the virus can then start to replicate in the body of the exposed person. It can take up to 14 days (the incubation period for COVID-19) for the body of an exposed person to “grow” enough virus for them to feel sick, experience symptoms, or register a positive test.

As an example, someone can be exposed on a Tuesday, not develop an infection yet on that Tuesday and test negative, but then develop a clinical reaction on Thursday and have a positive test Friday.

Thus, quarantine needs to last for 14 days regardless of a negative test result received during the quarantine period. If a quarantining individual were to begin experiencing symptoms they should be tested to see if they have become positive for COVID. A positive test result would alter the timing surrounding that person’s ability to be around others.

Why is my quarantine period longer than isolation time of the person I was exposed to?

The time periods for isolation and quarantine are based on different Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health guidelines.

An isolation period typically lasts 10 days and is based on the time that an individual can spread COVID-19 disease to others (their infectious period).

A quarantine period lasts 14 days after a person is last exposed to someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19. The quarantine time period is based on how long it can take after a person has been exposed for their body to start to feel sick, experience symptoms, or register a positive test (the incubation period for COVID-19).

When do I end my quarantine?

Your last day of quarantine should last 14 days from the day of your last contact with the person with COVID.

  • If you continue close contact with the person, do not start counting your 14 days until your last day of contact with the infected person.
  • If you are unable to avoid close contact, you must stay in quarantine until 14 days from when the person with COVID completes their isolation period.
  • Depending on your circumstances, your quarantine can last much longer than 14 days. The Centers for Disease Control offers a variety of scenarios to help you determine when you should begin and end quarantine.