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Isolation and Exposure

Here's what to do if you test positive for or have been exposed to COVID-19

Last Updated: May 11, 2023


Those who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, are required to isolate for five full days. If on day 6, you display no symptoms of COVID-19 and have been fever-free for 24-hours without the aid of medication, you may exit isolation but must wear a mask in all settings for five full days. 

Isolation Timeline

A timeline detailing the 11 days of isolation

Guidelines and Best Practices

  • You are encouraged to isolate at your permanent residence/family home if you live within a reasonable distance to campus. Alternatively, you can isolate in place in your current housing assignment. 

  • Stay in your isolation space and do your best to remain distanced from other household members. Do not have any visitors during this time. Avoid sharing eating utensils or personal items with anybody. 

  • Do not leave your isolation space to go to class, work or run errands. You may leave only for urgent medical care and to pick up takeaway meals. 

  • If you must leave for one of these reasons, do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares. Wear a well-fitting, effective mask any time you leave your room. Avoid places where you cannot wear a mask.

  • Meals should be taken to go and cannot be eaten at sit-in dining locations. Takeaway options are available at The 921 for students with meal plans. Please request a take-out container at the front check-in desk or from any dining ambassador. If you do not have a meal plan, consider contactless delivery options such as GrubHub and Instacart, or ask friends and family to deliver supplies.

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas frequently and avoid sharing bedrooms and bathrooms if possible. See the CDC sites for improving ventilation and best practices when someone is sick in your household. 

  • Monitor your health frequently. Contact University Police at 781-891-3131 or call 9-1-1 if you experience any trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, 

  • Residential students who receive any notifications from Mail Services should email to hold your packages until the end of your isolation period.

Exposure Precautions

  • If you recently interacted with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the likelihood that you were infected can vary greatly depending on factors like distance, length of time, ventilation and whether the individual was coughing, singing or breathing heavily. Learn more about understanding exposure risks here.
  • If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, take precautions for 10 full days regardless of your vaccination status. The CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health advise to wear a high-quality mask any time you are around others indoors in your home or in public. Take a rapid test on day 6 even if you do not have symptoms. If you do develop any potential COVID-19 symptoms, take a rapid test or contact the Health Center and stay away from others until you know the result. Continue to follow masking guidelines and other precautions through day 10 even if negative. 
Isolation Monitoring and Release

Monitor your health every day to self-assess your isolation release timeline. You can use this CDC Isolation Calculation Tool to aid in calculating exact dates. If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, you are welcome to call the Health Center or speak with your primary care provider. The Health Center is open for appointments Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and a 24/7 triage nurse is available for off-hours advice. If you need care during off-hours, you may seek care at any urgent care or emergency room. University Police can provide transportation to and from campus to select locations for care and can be reached 24/7 at 781-891-3131.

Isolation periods are a minimum of five full days, starting with initial symptom onset as day 0. If on day 6 or later you have been fever-free without the use of fever reducing medications for at least 24 hours and your other symptoms have significantly improved, then you may resume in-person classes and other activities but must wear a mask at all times. Students should not participate in any activities that would require you to remove your mask, such as dining indoors.

An isolation period ends on day 11 so long as symptoms are no longer present. Students must wear masks until reaching day 11. 

Isolating in Place

If your roommate is isolating in place in your shared space: 

  • Keep up to date with COVID vaccinations – they are an excellent source of protection against severe illness. 

  • While your roommate isolates, do your best to remain distanced and both wear well-fitting, effective masks that fully cover your nose, mouth, and chin. If possible, keep the windows open and use a fan to improve ventilation in the room. 

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently and implement other CDC best practices when someone is sick.

Notify Your Close Contacts

We strongly encourage you to tell anyone you may have exposed that they should take exposure precautions. Your infectious window includes the 48 hours prior to showing symptoms or testing positive. Consider all types of interactions. Did you participate in any social or recreational activities/events? Have you visited friends, restaurants or a place of worship? Who was sitting near you during classes, meetings or meals? 

The likelihood of transmission can vary greatly depending on factors like distance, length of time, ventilation and whether you were coughing, singing or breathing heavily. Learn more about understanding exposure risks.

Academic Support and Extracurriculars

Students completing an isolation period should reach out to their professors directly to inform them of their need for alternative arrangements. Students who are members of an organization on campus such as an athletic team, a fraternity or sorority, a club or those with on-campus employment are encouraged to reach out to those group leaders as well to plan next steps. Please also inform your leadership if anyone in the group is considered an exposed contact.

Important Phone Numbers
  • University Police Emergency Line: 781-891-3131 (24/7)
  • University Police Business Phone: 781-891-2201

  • Residential Center: 781-891-2148 (M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) 

  • Health Center: 781-891-2222 (M-F 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.) 

  • Counseling Center: 781-891-2274 (M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) 

COVID-19 Guidelines