Call for Help

Quarantine and isolation information for students and employees

If you test positive for COVID-19 you should isolate immediately.

If you are fully vaccinated (it has been two weeks since your final dose of the vaccine), you are not required to quarantine even if you have a close contact who is positive for COVID-19. You should get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after a known exposure. You should also test if you develop any symptoms. If you have symptoms, ensure you isolate until your test results are available. If your test result is negative, you should see a health care provider to assess your symptoms.

If you are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself immediately. CDC recommendations on the duration of quarantine can be found here.

The difference between isolating and quarantining

Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate yourself immediately.

Residence hall students will be provided isolation space.

For individuals who live with others, the CDC offers guidance: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/living-in-close-quarters.html

Most people will need to isolate for 10 days, though some will need to isolate longer. You can be with others if the following conditions exist:

  • You have reached the release date provided by your contact tracer;
  • You’ve been free of fever for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication; and
  • Your other symptoms are improving.

COVID-19 symptoms can begin any time, from two days up to 14 days after you’ve been exposed. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Quarantine

If you are fully vaccinated (it has been two weeks since your final dose of the vaccine), you are not required to quarantine even if you have a close contact who is positive for COVID-19. You should get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after a known exposure. You should also test if you develop any symptoms. If you have symptoms, ensure you isolate until your test results are available. If your test result is negative, you should see a health care provider to assess your symptoms.

If you are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself immediately. CDC recommendations on the duration of quarantine can be found here.

Close contact includes:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • Providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Having direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils with someone with COVID-19
  • Being sneezed on, coughed on, or somehow getting respiratory droplets on you from someone with COVID-19

The virus that causes COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to two weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quarantining for 14 days is the safest option for minimizing the chances that you spread COVID-19 to others.

The CDC updated its guidance in late 2020 to allow for shorter quarantines under some circumstances, but quarantine duration is based on a number of factors and should take into account the unique circumstances of living situations. The safest quarantine duration is 14 days. Some people may be asked by a medical professional to quarantine longer based on their circumstances.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone on campus, you will receive more information from UHS via your MyUHS account.

Students in University Housing

Isolation
Students in residence halls will complete a 10-day isolation. You will be released on the 11th day from your positive test date.

Quarantine
Students in residence halls will complete a 10-day quarantine. You will be released on the 11th day from your last contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.

The University has a limited number of beds for isolation and quarantine. If you test positive for COVID-19 or are deemed a close contact, you may need to return home or find your own isolating/quarantining space off campus. You may not return to the residence hall or participate in any in-person University activities until you are cleared by University staff.

University Housing, with UHS guidance, has created policies regarding quarantine and isolation in an attempt to keep spaces safe. Potentially, this can result in conflicting information and release dates. However, UHS supports University Housing policies and is generally unable to usurp them. 

If you do not develop symptoms:

  • Quarantine period: 10 days
  • You will be unable to return to your residence hall until you have completed a 10-day quarantine
  • Release date: Day 11

If you develop symptoms:

  • Isolate and seek testing immediately
  • Do not attend work or class while you are experiencing symptoms
  • If you test positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days from your positive test date
  • After your isolation period is complete, you will not need to seek testing for another 80 days (90 days from the date of your positive test)

Off-Campus Students & Staff

If you develop symptoms while in quarantine, you should seek testing or contact your health care provider. Students can contact UHS by calling 608-265-5600 or schedule an appointment via your MyUHS account at uhs.wisc.edu.

For employees and student employees, if you have questions or needs related to your work assignment, contact your Division Disability Representative (DDR) for assistance.

If you do not experience symptoms

  • Quarantine period: At least 10 days
  • Release date: Day 11

If you develop symptoms

  • Isolate and seek testing immediately
  • If you test positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days
  • After your isolation period is complete, you will not need to seek testing for another 80 days (90 days from the date of your positive test)

Some individuals may receive instructions from UHS or a private health care provider that differ from the information here. You should follow the instructions provided to you by a health care provider. Contact UHS at 608-265-5600 if you need help.

Additional Resources

Testing

Testing is recommended at the end of quarantine, ideally around day 10. You should test sooner if you develop symptoms.

You cannot “test out” of quarantine as the quarantine period captures the incubation period of the virus.

Mental Health Services

If you need more urgent assistance with mental health concerns, call the UHS 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line at 608-265-5600 (option 9). If you would like to schedule a routine phone screening to make an appointment at UHS Mental Health Services, call 608-265-5600 (option 2) or log into MyUHS.

Medical Needs

Everyone should continue to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever or difficulty breathing. If your medical need is urgent, call 911.

Students: For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call 608-265-5600.

Employees: For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider.

COVID-19 FAQs

This guide to common questions about COVID-19 testing and safety measures will help you navigate a safe semester on campus. If you don’t see your question, contact us at covidresponse@vc.wisc.edu.