Note: please refer to the Student Quarantine and Isolation page for the latest guidance and updates to frequently asked questions.

August 14, 2020

Dear Students,

As we welcome the first students back to our campuses, we know that many students, both undergraduate and graduate, have questions about what happens now—and what happens if you receive positive COVID-19 test results. We’re here to answer some of those most frequently asked questions. But first, let’s define some of the most commonly used (and confused!) terms.

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others since it is possible to be contagious even before someone develops symptoms. Someone in quarantine stays in their home, place of residence or other designated facility since it is possible to be contagious, even before someone develops symptoms.

Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people. This term refers to someone known or presumed by a medical professional to have COVID-19. Someone in isolation is staying in their home, place of residence or other designated facility due to illness.

Close contact  is defined by the CDC as being within less than 6 feet (2 meters) of a person known or presumed by a medical professional to have COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer, with or without a face covering, or having direct contact with infectious secretions of someone known or presumed to be COVID-19 positive.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

Students who live on campus will be moved into University-supported isolation housing or have the option to return to their permanent residence to isolate there. Students living off campus who test positive, including graduate and professional students, will be contacted by Student Health Service to discuss their isolation requirements and options. Students living off campus may be offered the option of moving into University-supported isolation housing.

A dedicated care team will support those students living in University-supported isolation housing. In addition to completing the Daily COVID-19 Health Check app, these students will have daily check-ins with medical professionals and a support team, meals delivered and other resources available.

How long do I have to stay in isolation?

This will vary from person to person depending on the duration of symptoms, generally though the length of time is from 10 to 14 days. Student Health Service will monitor your recovery—regardless of where you are isolating—and release you from isolation when it is medically safe to do so.

What happens if I’m a close contact of someone who has COVID-19?

Whenever someone tests positive for COVID-19, our contact tracers will reach out to the patient's close contacts to instruct them on next steps. Typically, you will need to quarantine and monitor your health for 14 days.

Where do I go for quarantine?

Most students living on campus will quarantine within their residence hall room or suite. In some cases, students may quarantine elsewhere if quarantining in their residence hall is not advised. Meals will be delivered, and students will track their health using the Daily COVID-19 Health Check App. Undergraduate and gradute students living off campus will typically quarantine in their off-campus housing. Students living on or off campus may also choose to quarantine in their permanent residence if they choose to leave campus.

Will I be tested if I'm in quarantine?

You will only be tested if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.

What should I do if I begin experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

Whether you live on or off campus, call Student Health Service at 412-383-1800.

Find additional information, including a PDF for students who are asked to quarantine or isolate and answers to other frequently asked questions, at If you have further questions about isolation and quarantine, reach out to us at, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

As always, remember to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Thank you, again, for doing your part.

COVID-19 Medical Response Office, University of Pittsburgh

Friday, August 14, 2020