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Quarantine and isolation information for students and employees

If you test positive for COVID-19 you should isolate yourself immediately so you don’t spread the virus to others.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself immediately. You could become positive for the virus for up to 14 days after exposure.

According to CDC guidelines, if you are fully vaccinated, which means it has been at least 2 weeks since you received a single-dose vaccine or at least two weeks since your second shot of a two-dose vaccine, you are not required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated people should continue to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself if they develop, and seek a COVID-19 test.

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance: https://www.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:

  • it’s been at least 10 days since your test date; and
  • 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

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are exempt from testing on campus for 90 days since the start of their isolation.  You can also find more information by logging into your MyUHS account.

Quarantine

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 due to close contact with someone infected with the virus, you should quarantine yourself immediately.

You could become positive for up to two weeks after the last time you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

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.

Students in University Housing

Students in residence halls will complete a 14-day quarantine. If you quarantine with UW Housing, UHS medical providers will test you for COVID-19 on a schedule based on your anticipated release date. For most students, this will mean three tests. Your release from quarantine may be shortened based on testing information.

Residence hall students who choose to quarantine elsewhere will not be able to return to their residence hall until after 14 days, even if you receive a negative test.

If you quarantine in a
UW Housing facility:

  • Quarantine period: 14 days
  • UHS medical staff will test you for COVID-19 according to a schedule based on your anticipated release date
  • Release date: Day 15 (*release date may be shortened based on testing information)

If you quarantine elsewhere and do not experience symptoms:

  • Quarantine period: 14 days
  • You will be unable to return to your residence hall until you have completed a 14-day quarantine
  • Release date: Day 15

If you quarantine elsewhere and 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
  • 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..

On day 10 of quarantine, get a COVID-19 test at a campus testing site.

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
  • You will need a negative test on day 10
  • You may test sooner, but should also seek testing on day 10
  • 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

You should be tested for COVID-19 before the end of your quarantine, ideally on or around day 10. You may test sooner if you develop symptoms, but you will need a negative test around day 10 to return to campus.

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 (option 8) to speak with the COVID-19 nurse line.

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.