Testing, Exposure, Isolation, & Quarantine

As COVID-19 cases fluctuate in our community, locally and nationally, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) has updated our policies in response to and with guidance from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Thank you for your flexibility and patience during this time. If there are additional recommendations, we will continue to monitor and update this page as needed.

Case support and isolation procedures are used for people with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Close contact and quarantine procedures are used for exposed close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you are a patient who is considered by your healthcare provider as being in a moderate to severe immunocompromised state, this requires you to take precautions that many other people do not have to consider in your daily life.

Review the procedures and resources below to help keep Harvard healthy.

COVID-positive case support

For individuals who test positive for COVID-19 either through Harvard’s testing program or who report a positive PCR or antigen test result from outside of Harvard’s testing program via Crimson Clear, the HUHS contact tracer will:

  1. Send you an intake email containing your isolation requirements and resources to your Harvard email within 24 hours of reporting your positive case. The email will include contact information if you have questions or concerns and an email template to notify your close contacts
  2. Ask you to identify and notify your close contacts from your infectious time period (48 hours prior to your test kit activation date) and provide them with HUHS’ exposure guidance as soon as possible. See the “Notifying close contacts” section below.
  3. Educate, support, and identify your needs and barriers to self-isolation
  4. Serve as a resource if you have questions throughout your isolation
  5. Ensure your confidentiality
  6. Email you at the end of your isolation to discharge you and provide you with return to work/school clearance and instructions

Learn more about isolation requirements.

Notifying close contacts

Once COVID-positive individuals have begun their isolation, their next step is to identify and notify their close contacts as soon as possible. With your help, your close contacts can be made aware of their exposure so they can take steps to test, mask, monitor for symptoms, and quarantine if applicable.

Think back to your infectious period: This is considered the 48 hours prior to your test kit activation date. A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of you indoors for 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period. If they don’t meet all these criteria, they are not considered a close contact and you do not need to notify them.

If they do meet all the criteria, they are a true close contact. You should notify them of their exposure. Close contacts should review the exposure guidance and quarantine requirements, determine which category is most appropriate for their next steps based on their own vaccination and booster status, and follow the applicable guidance to help decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19.

HUHS contact tracers are an available resource to close contacts to:

  1. Educate, support, and identify close contacts’ needs and barriers to self-quarantine, if applicable
  2. Connect and refer close contacts to additional resources
  3. Refer close contacts to additional testing as appropriate
  4. Provide close contacts with return to work/school clearance and instructions (only if requested)

Learn more about exposure guidance and quarantine requirements.

Isolation requirements

If you test positive for COVID-19 through Harvard’s testing program or report a positive outside test result, HUHS will contact you about your isolation requirements via your Harvard email. See the “isolation protocols” section below for more information.

If you live on campus, your School will also provide direction on your local school/unit’s isolation procedures. After you receive your positive test result, it’s incredibly important to minimize your movement and exposure to others by returning or staying home and wearing a well-fitting mask at all times if in the presence of other household members.

If you live off campus and receive a positive test result, do not come to campus for any reason. If you receive a positive result while you are on campus for the day, you should gather your belongings and go home immediately to isolate. You should inform anyone with a need to know (e.g., supervisor). An HUHS contact tracer will contact you via your Harvard email about next steps.

If you test positive outside of Harvard’s testing program, report your positive result to HUHS through Crimson Clear as soon as you can. If your positive result was on an outside antigen or PCR test, you should begin isolation immediately even before the HUHS Contact Tracing team emails you.

See the “Isolation protocols” section below for more information.

Isolation protocols

Isolation lasts a minimum of 5 days but might be longer depending on the specifics of your case. You cannot end your isolation without confirmation from an HUHS contact tracer. An HUHS contact tracer will be in contact via your Harvard email with additional guidance.

If you’re in isolation, you need to limit contact with others and stay home (or go to isolation housing, if applicable) until HUHS releases you.

If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving and you have been fever-free for more than 24 hours, HUHS will discharge you from isolation on day 6. For the continued safety of the community, you must wear a mask at all times until day 11. During this period of strict masking, ensure a tight fitting mask when leaving your home or interacting with others; this means no dining with others and no other mask-free activities. Masks are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage the use of high-quality disposable masks, worn in a way that minimizes air gaps around the edges. A surgical-style mask or a cup-style protective mask such as a KN-95, layered under a form-fitting fabric mask, can ensure good filtration as well as an effective seal. ASTM or FDA-accepted masks offer greater assurance of filtration quality.

  • If on day 5 or later you are still experiencing significant respiratory symptoms, you continue to have a fever, or any other symptoms have not improved, then you must continue to isolate and inform an HUHS contact tracer. 
  • If you are a member of Harvard’s health care or child care workforce and you test positive for COVID-19, you will not be able to return to your workplace until 5 days of isolation, resolving symptoms, plus a negative COVID-19 test result on day 5. Contact your manager or clinic director for more information.

If you live on campus, during your isolation period, you’ll stay in your room or, in limited circumstances, move to temporary space, for the duration of your isolation (with the exception of evacuating the building for a life-threatening emergency). Your School representative will share procedures for cleaning your room and bathroom upon ending isolation.

If you live off campus, during your isolation period, you will not be cleared to come to campus.

At the end of your isolation period, the HUHS contact tracing team will notify you and your School/Unit representative of your isolation end date and time. You will be exempted from COVID testing for approximately 90 days (unless otherwise directed by HUHS or your healthcare provider). Your contact tracer can help you determine when you are eligible to restart testing. If you need a travel letter within 90 days of testing positive for COVID, please email the HUHS contact tracing team and they can provide you a letter. 

For more information, review HUHS’s FAQs on Positive Test Results and Isolation.

Support services during isolation

Although you’ll be in isolation, you’re not alone. Harvard administrators have established a multi-layered system to support you.

  • Most symptoms of COVID-19 can be managed with Tylenol or Motrin, rest, and fluids, but some people experience severe symptoms. If you are experiencing severe symptoms (e.g., trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; or pale/gray/blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds depending on skin tone), call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
  • HUHS’s intake email includes resources on how to care for yourself.
  • If you live in a School-operated residence hall, you will receive guidance on dining services for your specific location.
  • For students: A School representative will contact you regarding academic support, the specifics for supporting your isolation period, and to address any other needed supports.
  • For faculty, staff, and researchers: Review Harvard HR’s Covid-19 policy on use of sick time and dependent care sick time. If you are able to teach or work, you will need to do so remotely. Leadership in your School or unit will follow up with you and discuss options.

For more information, review HUHS’s FAQs on Positive Test Results and Isolation.

Exposure guidance and quarantine requirements

After a potential exposure to COVID-19, determine if you meet all 4 criteria of a close contact:

  1. Exposed to someone confirmed to be infected (either notified by an individual who tested positive via PCR test or a contact tracer told them to treat themselves as if they had a positive PCR test), and
  2. Interaction was indoors, and
  3. Interaction was close—less than 6 feet away, and
  4. Interaction lasted at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period

If you do not meet all 4 criteria, you are not considered a close contact. No further action is needed. You should continue to practice health and safety measures.

If you do meet all 4 criteria, you are considered a close contact. Your quarantine requirements depend on your vaccination and booster status. Additional requirements to return to work after a potential exposure apply to Harvard’s health care and campus child care workforce. See the applicable “Quarantine protocols” section below for your next steps.

Quarantine protocols: Harvard community members

The following quarantine information applies to the general Harvard community (non-health care and non-child care center staff). It’s also available as a PDF; see If you think you were exposed to COVID-19.

Review the 2 categories below to determine your requirements and next steps.

Category 1: Quarantine not required

You do not have to quarantine, and you may return to work/school with on campus if you:

  • have been boosted, or
  • completed the primary series of a 2-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine within the last 5 months, or
  • completed the primary series of a single-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine within the last 2 months.

Please do the following for the 10 days following your date of last exposure:

  • Wear a mask around others for the 10 days following exposure. Masks are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage the use of high-quality disposable masks, worn in a way that minimizes air gaps around the edges. A surgical-style mask or a cup-style protective mask such as a KN-95, layered under a form-fitting fabric mask, can ensure good filtration as well as an effective seal. ASTM or FDA-accepted masks offer greater assurance of filtration quality.
  • Test on day 1 and day 5 following the exposure using an antigen or PCR test.
  • Self-monitor for COVID symptoms. If you develop symptoms: isolate from others, get tested, and stay home while waiting for the test results.
    • If negative, you may move about campus without restrictions (with mask around others).
    • If positive, continue to isolate away from others and await next steps from contact tracing. If you test positive outside Harvard’s testing program, report your positive test through Crimson Clear.

Category 2: Quarantine required

You are required to quarantine for 5 days and NOT go to school/work on-campus if you:

  • completed the primary series of a 2-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted, or
  • completed the primary series of a single-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine over 2 months ago and are not boosted, or
  • are unvaccinated.

Please do the following for the 10 days following your date of last exposure:

  • Complete the quarantine for 5 full days following the date of last exposure. Do not eat or socialize with others during this time.
  • Wear a mask around others for the 10 days following the date of last exposure. Masks are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage the use of high-quality disposable masks, worn in a way that minimizes air gaps around the edges. A surgical-style mask or a cup-style protective mask such as a KN-95, layered under a form-fitting fabric mask, can ensure good filtration as well as an effective seal. ASTM or FDA-accepted masks offer greater assurance of filtration quality.
  • Test on day 1 and day 5 following exposure, regardless of symptoms, with an antigen or PCR test.
  • Self-monitor for COVID symptoms (if you do not have any). If you develop symptoms: get tested and stay home and wait for the test results.
    • If negative, you may leave quarantine and move about campus after day 5 (with mask around others).
    • If positive, continue to isolate away from others and await next steps from HUHS contact tracing. If you test positive outside Harvard’s testing program, report your positive test through Crimson Clear.

If you live on campus and you’re required to quarantine, you’ll need to stay in your room for the duration of your quarantine, leaving only to use the restroom, to continue with your prescribed testing frequency, for an urgent medical matter, or to evacuate for a life-threatening emergency. If you test positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, you’ll need to isolate.

If you live off campus and you’re required to quarantine, you must remain off campus other than to drop off a test kit.

For more information, review HUHS’s FAQs on Possible or Confirmed Exposure and Quarantine.

Quarantine protocols: Harvard health care and campus child care workforce

The following quarantine information applies to Harvard health care providers and to staff members in Harvard’s campus child care centers. This guidance is also available as a PDF; see Exposure guidance for members of Harvard’s health care and child care center workforce.

Review the 2 categories below to determine your requirements and next steps.

Category 1: Quarantine not required

You do not have to quarantine, and you may return to work/school on campus if you have no symptoms and you:

  • have been boosted, or
  • completed the primary series of a 2-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine within the last 5 months, or
  • completed the primary series of a single-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine within the last 2 months.

Before returning to work, you must receive a negative test result after you learn of the exposure. This will likely be your “Day 1” test. Do not return to work until you receive a negative test result. The test can be an antigen or PCR test.

Additionally, please do the following for the 10 days following your date of last exposure:

  • Wear a mask around others for the 10 days following the exposure and wear appropriate PPE while at work.
  • Test on day 1 and day 5 following the exposure. The Day 1 test can also qualify as your return-to-work test. If negative, you can return to work the following day.
  • Self-monitor for COVID symptoms. If you develop symptoms: isolate from others, get tested, and stay home while waiting for the test results. Do not report to work.
    • If negative, you may move about campus without restrictions (with mask around others).
    • If positive, continue to isolate away from others and await next steps from contact tracing. If you test positive outside Harvard’s testing program, report your positive test through Crimson Clear.

Category 2: Quarantine required

You are required to quarantine for 5 days and NOT go to school/work on-campus if you:

  • completed the primary series of a 2-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted, or
  • completed the primary series of a single-dose FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine over 2 months ago and are not boosted, or
  • are unvaccinated.

Before returning to work, you must test on day 5 from the date of last exposure. Do not return to work until you receive a negative test result. The test can be an antigen or PCR test.

Additionally, please do the following for the 10 days following your date of last exposure:

  • Complete the quarantine for 5 full days following the date of last exposure. Do not eat or socialize with others during this time.
  • Wear a mask around others for the 10 days following the date of last exposure and use appropriate PPE at work.
  • Test on day 1 and day 5, regardless of symptoms. Your Day 5 test can qualify as your return-to-work test. If negative, you can return to work the following day.
  • Self-monitor for COVID symptoms (if you do not have any). If you develop symptoms: get tested and stay home and wait for the test results.
    • If negative, you may leave quarantine and move about campus after day 5 (with mask around others).
    • If positive, continue to isolate away from others and await next steps from HUHS contact tracers. If you test positive outside Harvard’s testing program, report your positive test through Crimson Clear.

If you live on campus and you’re required to quarantine, you’ll need to stay in your room for the duration of your quarantine, leaving only to use the restroom, to continue with your prescribed testing frequency, for an urgent medical matter, or to evacuate for a life-threatening emergency. If you test positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, you’ll need to isolate.

If you live off campus and you’re required to quarantine, you must remain off campus other than to drop off a test kit.

For more information, review HUHS’s FAQs on Possible or Confirmed Exposure and Quarantine.

Support services during quarantine

Although you’ll be in quarantine, you’re not alone. Harvard administrators have established a multi-layered system to support you.

  • HUHS is available to you as a resource if you have health questions and concerns throughout your quarantine.
  • If you live in a School-operated residence hall, you will receive guidance on dining services for your specific location.
  • For students: A School representative will contact you regarding academic support, the specifics for supporting your quarantine period, and to address any other needed supports.
  • For faculty, staff, and researchers: Review Harvard HR’s Covid-19 policy on use of sick time and dependent care sick time. If you are able to teach or work, you will need to do so remotely. Leadership in your School or unit will follow up with you and discuss options.

Additional resources: testing, exposure, isolation, & quarantine FAQs

Experiencing Symptoms

What should I bring with me in case I have to isolate with COVID-19?

If you have to isolate, it is recommended that you have the following items already in your room/apartment/home: 

  • A digital thermometer 
  • Face masks (3-ply surgical masks, for example) 
  • Hand sanitizer and tissues (2-3 boxes) 
  • Over-the counter medication (if you are able to take):  
    • For fever: Acetaminophen (Tylenol ®, Paracetamol ®, or Panadol ®). Ibuprofen (Motrin ® or Advil ®). 
    • Cough medicine: such as Guaifenesin (Robitussin ®) 
    • Throat lozenges: such as Cepacol ®, cough drops. 
    • For nasal congestion and stuffiness: Decongestant (such as Phenylephrine (Sudafed-PE ®), Nasal spray-Saline mist, Ocean ®). 
  • 5 days' worth of clean clothing and personal items: such as toothbrush, toothpaste, prescription medication (if applicable), clean sheets. Please note, when in isolation you are not able to do laundry. 
  • Optional: water bottles, and/or preferred electrolyte drinks, snacks.

What do I do if I'm experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

We recommend that you stay in your housing/apartment/home and follow Harvard’s guidance, notify the Crimson Clear Team, and follow quarantine guidelines according to your vaccination status.   

If you are outside of Harvard’s Color testing system, please visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test or access an at-home rapid antigen test or PCR test and notify the Crimson Clear Team if you have a positive result on an outside-Harvard Color test.

If you are on the Harvard health plan you can also get 8 monthly antigen test kits for free from your insurance. Visit Express Scripts for more information. 

What do I do if I'm experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and am scheduled for an appointment at HUHS?

Prior to your appointment at HUHS, please review the list of symptoms below. 

If you have any of these symptoms, or have tested positive for COVID within 10 days of your appointment, please call your provider's office before coming to HUHS. All routine healthcare appointments can be rescheduled to at least 11 days after a positive COVID test.

  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever greater than 100.4 degree F or feeling feverish / having chills
  • New fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • New headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • New congestion

Main Number for HUHS - (617) 495-5711
Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) - (617) 495-2042
Behavioral Health - (617) 495-2323
Law School - (617) 495-4414
Medical Area - (617) 432-1370

Exposure & Quarantine

I'm concerned about getting COVID. How often can I test through Color?

If you develop symptoms or have come in close contact with someone positive for COVID-19, please follow quarantine guidelines outlined below according to your vaccination status.

Am I at high risk for COVID-19?

The CDC has provided some additional guidance for individuals who may be considered high risk; please see the CDC guidance.  

If you are immunocompromised or at a high risk for complications, please contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible for close monitoring, and do not wait for symptoms to worsen.

If you are hospitalized or need to discuss medical treatment options beyond the standard Tylenol and Motrin, please contact the HUHS COVID Response team to update them on your status. 

I’ve had the primary series of the COVID vaccine but have not had a booster. Will I have to quarantine if I am exposed?

  • If you received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted, or if you completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson over 2 months ago and are not boosted, you would be required to quarantine if you have been exposed to COVID-19. 
    • Eligible individuals who have not received their booster shot must now quarantine for five (5) days when they are exposed. 
  • If you are unvaccinated and learn you have had exposure to someone who is positive for COVID, please minimize your movements and quarantine immediately. Review and follow quarantine quidelines outlined below according to your vaccination status. 

My roommate/housemate just tested positive for COVID. What should I do?

  • Be sure both you and your infected roommate/housemate wear well-fitting masks. Monitor your symptoms and complete an antigen or PCR test. Your quarantine instructions will depend on your vaccination status. 
  • If you have been boosted or you completed the primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines within the last 5 months or completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last 2 months, you should do the following: 
    • If symptom free: 
      • Wear a mask around others for 10 days, especially around eating/drinking.
      • Test with an antigen or PCR test on Day 1 and the morning of Day 5 of potential exposure. 
    • If you develop symptoms of any type, complete an antigen or PCR test and stay home and quarantine, testing on Day 1 of symptom onset and Day 5. If the test is negative on Day 5, AND symptoms have resolved (including fever free for 24 hours) you can leave quarantine. 
  • If you have not been boosted and you have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 5 months ago, or if you haven’t been boosted and completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson over 2 months ago, or are unvaccinated: 
    • Whether you have no symptoms or mild/severe symptoms, stay home and quarantine for 5 days. Test with an antigen or PCR test on Day 1 and the morning of Day 5. If the test is negative on Day 5, AND symptoms have resolved (including fever free for 24 hours) you can be released from quarantine. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days past Day 5 (i.e., Days 6-10). 

When I am in quarantine, could I visit with a friend/visitor if they also are quarantining?

If you live on-campus and you’re required to quarantine, you’ll need to stay in your room/apartment for the duration of your quarantine to minimize your movement and exposure to others. You are permitted to leave only to use the restroom, to continue with your prescribed testing cadence, for urgent medical matters/appointments, or to evacuate for a life-threatening emergency. You should not socialize with visitors or invite them to your residence hall/into your housing during the quarantine period. 

Positive Test Result & Isolation

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is used for people with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 while quarantine is for exposed close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

What do I do if I use an at-home antigen test and get a positive result?

An at-home antigen test is considered an acceptable confirmation of a positive test result. If you receive a positive test result on an external antigen test, please report the result through Crimson Clear. You will be expected to follow isolation guidance and will hear from a member of the contact tracing team to your Harvard email if your positive test result is within 10 days of reporting. For additional details of antigen and PCR tests please see Next Steps After Testing Positive on an Antigen or PCR Test

I tested positive for COVID but have not heard from a HUHS contact tracer yet. Do I need to isolate-in-place?

Yes, please isolate-in-place until you hear from a HUHS contact tracer because it’s incredibly important to minimize your movement and exposure to others. HUHS will contact you via your Harvard email about what it means to be positive and explain next steps.  

I tested positive for COVID and I am concerned. When should I call HUHS for an appointment?

  • If you are having difficulty breathing that is more than a mild cough and/or congestion in your nose. 
  • If you are having chest pain or tightness in your chest when you breathe. 
  • If, despite taking fever reducers as directed, your fever returns for more than 2 days or remains above 102°F (or 38.8°C). 
  • If you have prolonged vomiting or diarrhea and feel faint or dizzy. 
  • If you are immunocompromised or at a high risk for complications, please contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible for close monitoring, and do not wait for symptoms to worsen.
  • If you are hospitalized or need to discuss medical treatment options beyond the standard Tylenol and Motrin, please contact the HUHS COVID Response Team to update them on your status. 

I tested positive but don’t have any symptoms. Do I still need to isolate in place?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must isolate in place until you are contacted by our HUHS Contact Tracing Team with instructions. If you have tested positive outside of the University’s testing program, please use Crimson Clear to report your positive test result, isolate immediately, and wait for our Crimson Clear Team to contact you via email.  

Per the University’s updated guideline from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, infected individuals who have no symptoms or mild symptoms that are resolving with no fever may end strict isolation after 5 days. After your isolation period, you must always mask whenever you leave your home or are around others for 10 days from positivity date. This means that you should not dine with others unmasked and not attend any mask-free activities for at least 10 days. 

If I have only mild symptoms, I can leave isolation after 5 days if they've resolved. What are considered mild symptoms?

Mild symptoms are similar to that of a cold. If after 5 days you continue to have a fever or severe respiratory symptoms, continue to stay home until your fever resolves and your symptoms begin to improve. If you develop any symptoms after 5 days, report these through Crimson Clear.

I’ve tested positive for COVID and have a fever and a cough. What can I do to take care of myself while in isolation?

  • Drink plenty of fluids, like water and sports drinks, to prevent dehydration.
  • Take fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as directed. You can alternate if fever returns. 
  • Take cough medicine after taking fluids. Liquid cough syrup may help coat your throat and relieve some of the soreness from coughing. 
  • If you already use an inhaler for asthma, it is okay to use it as you normally would. 

How high is too high for my fever? Who should I call if I have any concerns about my symptoms?

If despite taking fever reducers as directed, your fever returns for more than 2 days or remains above 102°F (or 38.8°C) please call HUHS at (617) 495-5711 for an appointment (or your care provider). 

Will someone from my School still reach out to me during my isolation for academic support?

Yes. For students: a School representative will contact you regarding academic support, the specifics for supporting your quarantine period, and to address any other needed supports.

How will HUHS support me during my isolation-in-place?

Although you’ll be isolating in place, HUHS is here for you. Please see below on how to reach us.  If you need to access via TTY, dial (800) 439-0183.  If you are a student living in a School-operated residence hall or housing, your Resident Dean/Housing Manager can assist you with any dining services or questions about supplies.  

Medical issues - If you have any concerning symptoms such as elevated fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, difficulty breathing, feeling faint or dizzy, or vomiting, please call (617) 495-5711 to reach our Urgent Care Department or 24/7 Nurse Advice Line. They will provide further instructions for you to either present in-person or to go the nearest local hospital.  

Mental Health Issues - the CAMHS Cares Line is available 24/7 for all students who need emotional support by calling (617) 495-2042. This line should not be used for questions related to COVID symptoms or to make medical appointments. 

How will I be notified when my isolation has ended and how long should I be masking afterward?

You will be notified by the HUHS Contact Tracing Team when your isolation period has ended. Please check your Harvard email inbox for a message. 

Please continue to adhere to strict masking for 10 days (5 days past isolation period) while you are around others and continue to follow all Keep Harvard Healthy guidelines. 

If I am positive for COVID-19 and start to feel more severe symptoms, who should I call?

If you start to experience more severe COVID symptoms, you should call the Urgent Care Nurse Line at (617) 495-5711. This line is open 24 hours a day/7 days per week and they will direct you to come to Urgent Care in person or go to the Emergency Room for evaluation. More severe symptoms may include: 

  • Difficulty breathing (more than a mild cough or nasal congestion)
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Fever above 102°F (or 38.8°C) after 2 days despite continuously taking fever reducing medications
  • Prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, or feeling dizzy/faint

If you are experiencing any mental health concerns while in isolation, the CAMHS Cares Line is available 24/7 by calling (617) 495-2042. This line is for all students needing emotional support and should not be used for questions related to COVID symptoms or to make medical appointments. For these COVID-related issues, please utilize the Urgent Care Nurse Line. 

If you need to access via TTY, dial (800) 439-0183.

If you are immunocompromised or at a high risk for complications, please contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible for close monitoring, and do not wait for symptoms to worsen.

If you are hospitalized or need to discuss medical treatment options beyond the standard Tylenol and Motrin, please contact the HUHS COVID Response Team to update them on your status.

Can I take my regular medications if I have COVID-19?

Yes, it is okay to take your regular medication, especially medication you may already use for asthma. 

What kind of mask is recommended if I test positive for COVID?

Masks are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage the use of high-quality disposable masks, worn in a way that minimizes air gaps around the edges. A surgical-style mask or a cup-style protective mask such as a KN-95, layered under a form-fitting fabric mask, can ensure good filtration as well as an effective seal. ASTM or FDA-accepted masks offer greater assurance of filtration quality.

If my roommates/housemates and I all have COVID, is it okay for us to eat together and not wear masks in our room/house?

We highly encourage you to continue following all recommended guidance on isolating due to multiple COVID-19 variants that are circulating throughout the community.

When I am quarantined or isolated, could I visit with a friend, even if they also have COVID?

You should not socialize with visitors or invite them to your residence hall/into your housing during the isolation period. 

If you live on-campus and you’re required to isolate in your room/apartment, you’ll need to stay in your room/apartment for the duration of your isolation to minimize your movement and exposure to others. You are permitted to leave only to use the restroom, for urgent medical matters/appointments, or to evacuate for a life-threatening emergency. 

Do I need to test negative to leave isolation?

At this time, the general public does not require a negative test to leave isolation. A negative test result  is required to return to work for childcare and healthcare providers. View the Return to Work Requirement.

Does a negative test during isolation (i.e., before Day 5) get you out of isolation?

No, you are required to isolate for at least 5 days, or until communicated by a HUHS contact tracer. After testing positive for COVID, you would resume your testing cadence after 90 days. Having an additional negative test prior to Day 5 of isolation does not enable you to end isolation early. 

After Isolation/Recovery Period

I have just finished my 5-day isolation period. When will I know that I’m safe to be around others after having tested positive?

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should stay home and isolate for 5 days. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms resolve after 5 days, you can leave your home once cleared by a HUHS contact tracer. After your isolation period, you must always mask whenever you leave your home or are around others for 10 days from positivity date. This means that you should not dine with others unmasked and not attend any mask-free activities for at least 10 days from testing positive.

If after 5 days of isolation, you continue to have a fever or severe respiratory symptoms, continue to isolate until your fever resolves and your symptoms improve. This means you may need to isolate for more than 5 days.