Quarantine and Isolation

Along with comprehensive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, quarantine and isolation are effective and necessary tactics to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our campus communities. We are here to help you as you do your part in keeping our communities safe and healthy.

More information on student quarantine and isolation, including an extensive FAQ and details on virtual events and activities, can be found on the Student Affairs website.

Information on how a faculty member is notified if a student in their class is in quarantine or isolation, and how faculty can assist with contact tracing efforts, is available here.

What to expect in quarantine or isolation

A referral to quarantine or isolation can be concerning, but we are here to support you and make completion of your time as comfortable and uncomplicated as possible. The University’s robust quarantine and isolation support system is designed to help you continue your studies uninterrupted, maintain your physical and mental health, stay connected and complete your quarantine or isolation period with ease.

While in quarantine and isolation, students can expect:

  • Daily check-ins, or more frequently as needed, by Student Affairs staff to assess individual needs.

  • Accommodations for students enrolled in in-person classes facilitated by Student Affairs staff.

  • Protection of personal health information.

  • Meal and package delivery.

  • Virtual events and activities including trivia, gaming, yoga, performances and more.

  • Wellness services.

The differences between quarantine and isolation

While quarantine and isolation are both intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.

The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.

Quarantine requirements

Unvaccinated students and employees who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 or who have been identified as close contacts through contact tracing must quarantine for a minimum of seven to 10 days. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.

During quarantine, you may or may not develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you do experience symptoms, contact your health care provider; students can contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or their primary care provider. Students also should call Contact Tracing and Student Support Services at 814-863-8800 and employees should contact Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 if they develop symptoms while in quarantine.

Fully vaccinated people who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 need to be tested 2-5 days after exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test. Regardless of vaccination status, any person with new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still needs to isolate and be tested for COVID-19.

Where to quarantine

  • Faculty and staff should quarantine at home, ideally in a space where they can avoid contact with others in their household. Visit the CDC website for more information on quarantining.

  • Students living on campus will quarantine in space identified on or near their campus.

  • Case managers will evaluate quarantine needs for students living off campus as part of the contact tracing process.

  • Testing out of quarantine

    • In accordance with CDC quarantine guidelines, which the Pennsylvania Department of Health has adopted, individuals have the option to end their quarantine after 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, or after seven days with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine and if they have no symptoms.

    • Asymptomatic students who are quarantining because they have been identified through contact tracing as a close contact of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to receive a COVID-19 test during day 5-7 of their quarantine.

    • Students and employees who meet the criteria to end quarantine early must continue to monitor themselves for virus symptoms for the full 14 days after their last exposure, while also following all masking, and should immediately self-isolate and contact a health care provider if they show any symptom.

Isolation requirements

According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be with others after at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared, after at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and after symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, your health care provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).


  • Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days.

  • Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate.

  • Individuals should not return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.

During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or primary care provider. Faculty and staff who test positive should self-isolate off campus and report their positive status to their supervisor and contact Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 so their unit can begin the contact tracing process.

Where to isolate

  • Faculty and staff should isolate at home, ideally in a space where they can avoid contact with others in their household.

  • Students living on campus will stay in isolation space on or near their campus.

  • Students living off campus will be accommodated with on- or near-campus isolation space to the extent that the University is able.

Quarantine and isolation

With the University providing a fully in-person experience this fall, most courses will not have a standing remote participation option. 

Students who test positive and need to enter isolation, as well as students who need to quarantine because of a possible exposure to COVID-19, will be encouraged to reach out to their course faculty. While students will be expected to contact their instructors and make every effort to work with the instructor to complete the work and stay on track, faculty are encouraged to work with students to the extent possible, given the challenging circumstances. Additionally, faculty should receive a message from Student Support Services whenever a student must be absent from class to quarantine or isolate. Academic advisers will also be alerted when one of their advisees must miss classes due to quarantine or isolation and students are encouraged to reach out to their advisers for assistance. Student Affairs will be providing support to these students and may be in touch with faculty to assist with the coordination necessary to encourage continued academic progress for these students. For students who are unable to attend class because of quarantine or isolation requirements, faculty have many options for meeting their needs.

Per University Faculty Senate policy 42-27, instructors should work with students to provide, within reason, an opportunity to make up work that they have missed, recognizing that not all work can be made up. Many of the tools that have been used during the last year may assist in helping students continue learning while temporarily absent. Providing live lecture-streaming or recorded lectures, though not required, can be useful in supporting absent students; these are also great examples of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in that they can support a variety of students beyond those who are absent (e.g., English language learners, those with undisclosed learning disabilities, etc.). It is important to emphasize that while the creation of these materials is good practice, they should be temporary and not used to provide fully remote instruction to students for an entire semester, as it creates reporting and regulatory issues, especially for international students.

Yes, unvaccinated individuals who have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive or suspected of having COVID-19 must quarantine for 7 to 10 days. They must quarantine for 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, or after seven days with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine and if they have no symptoms.

Fully vaccinated people who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to be tested 2-5 days after exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test. Regardless of vaccination status, any person with new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still needs to isolate and be tested for COVID-19.  

Employees can find detailed information and guidance on the Health Guidelines, Contact Tracing, and Quarantine and Isolation pages.

Due to federal laws (HIPAA), faculty should not ask the COVID-19 testing status of students, as faculty are not responsible for monitoring or enforcing testing requirements. Learn more about testing information here.

Faculty who are teaching will receive an email from studentsupportservices@psu.edu if one of their students is in quarantine or isolation, including information on when the student may return to the classroom. CDC guidelines and University testing procedures may permit students to leave isolation and quarantine earlier than expected if specific criteria are met. Faculty will be notified a second time if their student is permitted to leave quarantine or isolation earlier than previously communicated; however, there may be a slight delay in that process as contact tracers notify Student Support Services, which in turn will notify the faculty member of the change. If the student attends class in person before the end of the quarantine or isolation period that was communicated to the faculty member, it may be because the student tested out. However, if a student attends an in-person class before they complete their quarantine or isolation period without having tested out, then a referral should be made to the Office of Student Conduct.

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