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Exposure and Isolation

If you are a UC San Diego campus employee or student that has recently tested positive for COVID-19, the UC San Diego Public Health team has important COVID-19 health information for you to review:

Student Isolation Instructions

In order for the UC San Diego Campus to provide the best possible care when you test positive for COVID-19, review and abide by the health information below.

As soon as you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, isolate in a separate bedroom if you can or mask and distance yourself from others as best you can. You may only leave the isolation space for medical care, personal hygiene needs or to pick-up food. Mask whenever you leave the isolation space.

Medical care information

For COVID-19 care, Student Health providers are available seven days a week between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To contact the UC San Diego Student Health team, go to MyStudentChart, click on Messages, then choose "COVID questions." Make sure your phone number up-to-date in MyStudentChart. Answer when Student Health calls, and monitor your MyStudentChart messages.

If you have a medical condition that places you at higher risk for complications of COVID-19, you may be a candidate for medical therapy. Please contact the Student Health team to discuss treatment. If you need more urgent assistance please contact Student Health at (858) 534-3300, or for severe symptoms, please go to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Isolation housing information

All campus residential students must contact the UC San Diego Public Health Team to discuss their isolation plan. Email the UC San Diego Public Health Team at ucsdcovidadmin@health.ucsd.edu, and include "Secure: Isolation Assistance" in the email subject line.

Alternatively, you can call (619) 543-5722. Include your name, your phone number, and where you are living in your message. The UC San Diego Public Health Team will reach out to you. Please answer calls from (619) 543-5722. The Public Health team will work with Housing and Dining and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate your move to campus isolation. Failure to respond to Public Health communications may result in referral to Student Conduct.

There is campus isolation housing available; please find criteria for isolation detailed below. All students on and off-campus living with immunocompromised or high risk individuals should move to campus isolation housing.

  • Undergraduates living on campus: If you are living in a single, or sharing a bedroom with an individual who has had COVID-19 within the last 60 days, you can isolate in place. If you are sharing a bedroom with another individual, you will need to move to isolation housing. If you are able to isolate safely off-campus with your family, please email the Public Health Team at ucsdcovidadmin@health.ucsd.edu.
  • Students living in graduate housing: If you are living in a single, you may isolate in place. If you share a bedroom with another individual who has not had COVID in the last 60 days, consider moving to campus isolation housing.
  • Students currently living off campus who are enrolled in Summer Session:If you are sharing a bedroom or there is an immunocompromised member in your household, you may be eligible for campus isolation housing. Email the UC San Diego Public Health team at ucsdcovidadmin@health.ucsd.edu and include "Secure: Isolation Assistance" in the subject line. Alternatively, you can call (619) 543-5722.

Food resources for those isolating on campus

Undergraduate housing food resources: use the Triton2Go mobile ordering application.

  • Please wait until you receive a notification in the app that your order is ready for pick up.
  • You must double mask, or wear a kn95/N95 mask, before exiting your living space to pick up your order.
  • Upon arrival, please use the hand sanitizer dispenser located at the entrance of each HDH Dining location.
  • Be prepared to share the last four digits of your order number with our staff when picking up your meal.
  • Return directly to your bedroom to enjoy your meal.
  • For questions, contact Dining Helps at 858-534-4216 or dininghelps@ucsd.edu. They are available from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Graduate housing food resources

  • If you want to bill groceries to your housing account, contact Dining Helps and we will arrange for groceries to be delivered from an HDH Market. You may call 858-534-4216 or email dininghelps@ucsd.edu between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., seven days a week.
  • If you have concerns about covering the cost of meals and groceries while you are isolated in your apartment, contact Sarah Feteih from Basic Needs at ssfeteih@ucsd.edu or visit basicneeds.ucsd.edu for more information and to develop a plan.
  • You may also order groceries from an outside grocery delivery service such as Ralphs, Vons or Instacart or meals from an outside meal delivery service like Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc. These options require you to pay the service directly, and you will not be able to bill these services to your housing account.

Isolation instructions

  • STAY HOME except to get medical care.
  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Call ahead before visiting your provider.
  • ISOLATE away from other people and animals.
  • MASK whenever you need to leave your bedroom.
  • CLEAN surface areas of common areas such as shared bathrooms.
  • DO NOT repeat a PCR nasal swab test for 90 days from your positive test date (This includes the self-administered tests available in UC San Diego vending machines).
  • STOP filling out your UC San Diego daily symptom and exposure screening.

Academic support during isolation

If you are an undergraduate student and your COVID-19 diagnosis and isolation has prevented you from meeting academic requirements, we encourage you to contact your Dean of Student Affairs for support. If you are a graduate student, please contact the Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Affairs.

Counseling and social support during isolation

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) are available by calling (858) 534-3755. You may also find more information on their website at caps.ucsd.edu.

Ending isolation

You may come out of isolation on the 11th day (10 full days after the start of symptoms or your positive test if you never had symptoms) if:

  1. You have not had a fever and have not been using fever reducing medications for the last 24 hours of this period AND
  2. Your symptoms have significantly improved

You may qualify to end your isolation early, on the 6th day (5 full days after the start of symptoms or your positive test if you never had symptoms) if:

  1. Your positive test was done prior to Day 5 AND
  2. An antigen test is negative Day 5 or later AND
  3. You have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving AND
  4. You have not had a fever and have not been using fever reducing medications for the last 24 hours of this period AND
  5. You agree to continuously mask for additional 5 days anytime you're around others (including those in your home).

Student athletes who meet the criteria above for early isolation release may exercise masked and alone on campus in all areas except the aquatic centers. Student athletes may attend indoor team meetings if everyone is masked and may and attend outdoor meeting continuously masked.

NOTE: The ANTIGEN test used to determine early isolation release is not the same type of test found in UC San Diego Vending machines or at the Price Center. Vending machine tests and those at the Price Center are PCR tests that cannot be used to test out of isolation early. ANTIGEN tests are tests you perform at home that can be purchased at retail locations such as CVS, Target or Walgreens. You can request to have these types of tests sent to you free of charge from the US government by placing an order here.

If you live in graduate housing or off campus, you can request a rapid antigen test be mailed to you from UC San Diego by placing an order through this form.

For international students with F-1 or J-1 status, please notify the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) within 24 hours of this information by logging into iPortal.ucsd.edu and submitting the "Health Reporting Form for F-1/J-1 Students."

If you are a medical or pharmacy school student, you must schedule a provider-administered rapid antigen test to end isolation, a home test is not sufficient. Schedule by calling the Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260. At the time you test positive, notify the medical or pharmacy school by emailing MS-COVID-Notify@health.ucsd.edu. Include the date you tested positive and the date your symptoms began. You should also notify your course director or clerkship director, and your dean.

After completing isolation

  • Patients who have had COVID-19 can continue to shed virus particles intermittently for 3 months although they are NOT infectious. For this reason, please DO NOT get a UC San Diego screening COVID-19 test within 3 months of your initial positive result. Our vending machine tests and tests at the Price Center are PCR tests that may remain positive for longer than you are infectious; these are different than the antigen testing used to determine if you are cleared from isolation on Day 5. Once you have completed your COVID-19 isolation period, you will be exempt from required testing for University compliance for 90 days. Exceptions are if you are requested to test due to wastewater monitoring on campus or a healthcare provider recommends a repeat test. You can resume your UC San Diego daily symptom and exposure screening.
  • If you develop any symptoms that could be COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, fatigue, or loss of taste or smell, contact Student Health Services or your provider for an in person evaluation.
  • You should be vaccinated and boosted regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. We recommend vaccination despite prior infection. You may receive your booster as soon as you have completed your COVID-19 isolation. The only reason to delay vaccination is if you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. If that is the case, you should wait 90 days before getting a vaccine for COVID-19. Given your current COVID-19 infection, you will be exempt from the booster mandate for 90 days from the date of your positive test.

Campus Employee Isolation Protocol

  • Upon receiving a diagnosis/positive test for COVID-19, you must isolate.
    • Stay separated from other household members.
    • Use your own restroom and sleep in a separate bedroom, if possible.
    • If sharing a restroom, be sure to disinfect after each use.
    • Don’t share personal items or food with anyone else.
    • Ventilation (e.g., open a window) will help mitigate transmission.
    • Only leave your room and house in case of an emergency.
  • Isolate for 5 days after your symptom onset (or test date, if you do not have symptoms). If you are fever free AND your symptoms are improving AND you have a negative rapid antigen test on day 6 or later, you may exit isolation, BUT you must continue to wear a mask around others through Day 10.
    • The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) will determine release dates and clearance for work.
    • Campus employees can Schedule their Day 6 antigen test here to exit isolation or call the Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260.
    • Do not conduct another PCR test for 90 days after your positive test, unless you develop new symptoms after Day 30.
  • If your symptoms have not improved, or if your rapid antigen test remains positive, remain in isolation through Day 10. You may leave isolation on day 11, you do not need a negative test. You will still need clearance from COEM to return to work.
    • Do not take another PCR test for 90 days after your positive test, unless you develop new symptoms after Day 30.

Information for Supervisors

Instructions are available for supervisors and managers to support team members who test positive for COVID-19. This includes guidance for employees on how to report their positive test, how to get cleared to return to on-site work, and how to submit a Potential Workplace Exposure Notification.

Supervisors and managers play a key role in ensuring that campus employees are consistently completing the daily symptom and exposure screening. Questions about your role in symptom and exposure screening, how to manage notification emails, what to do if an employee fails the screening and more can be found on the Human Resources FAQ page here.

If an employee refuses to complete the daily symptom and exposure screening, information can be found here.

How to Share Quarantine Information with Your Close Contacts

  • Close contacts are defined as individuals (masked or unmasked) that you have been within 6ft of for 15 min or more over the course of a day while you were infectious (2 days before your symptom onset or test collection date).
  • In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, we ask that you notify your close contacts that they need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get tested ASAP.

Here is sample language that can be used to communicate with your close contacts:

  • Text message sample: Hi, I tested positive for COVID-19 and because we were together on [insert date], you need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get a COVID-19 test ASAP. Here’s a link with more information from San Diego County.
  • Another example: “Hi, I need to talk to you about something important. Do you have a few minutes to talk privately? I was diagnosed with COVID-19 (or tested positive) on [insert date]. We spent time together on [insert date] and wanted to let you know that you need to quarantine for X days, monitor for symptoms and get tested ASAP. The Case Investigator sent me a link with more information on quarantine that I can share with you if you want to read it.”

Close contact

students sitting at steps on UC San Diego

The University uses the definition of close contact established by San Diego County public health officials, including but not limited to:

  • If you have been within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period of someone who is COVID-19 infected starting from two days before their illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • If you have had direct physical contact, including unprotected contact with bodily fluids and/or secretions (including being coughed on or sneezed on, sharing utensils, or drinking out of the same container).
  • If you have provided care for a COVID-19 positive person.

Learn about campus safety guidelines »

Non-close contacts

Important reminders:

  • Merely being present in the same classroom where all individuals are masked does not meet the public health definition of a close contact.
    • You should remain mindful of any symptoms you may experience, and continue to complete the symptom and exposure screening daily per campus protocol.
    • Consider taking advantage of the free COVID-19 testing available on campus.
    • Enroll in the CA Notify program if you have not already.
    • Continue masking indoors, per campus safety requirements.
    • Keep attending your classes, labs and on-campus employment.

Exposure notification

students sitting at steps on UC San Diego

CA Notify is a free service that quickly notifies you if you were exposed to COVID-19. By downloading the app to your mobile device, you can continue protecting yourself and help stop the spread of infection. The program is completely voluntary and your personal information and location are never collected. You will only receive alerts if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

If you receive an exposure notification from the CA Notify app or have questions, please visit the CA Notify website.

Have you been exposed?

  • Use the daily symptom and exposure screener tool to indicate that you may have been exposed. You will receive an email/message with a link to schedule a PCR test or you can also call the UC San Diego’s Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260 and a representative will help you determine if you should be tested sooner than your next scheduled test. COVID-19 tests are offered at no cost if conducted at a UC San Diego Health location or a COVID-19 test kit vending machine.
  • Please see below for specific quarantine instructions based on your vaccination status and affiliation.
  • Please note that quarantine instructions are different for healthcare workers. If you are a healthcare worker, you should refer to Pulse for quarantine instructions.

Guidelines for close contacts

COVID-19 sign at UC San Diego

Student and employee quarantine guidelines vary based on your vaccination status.

Vaccination status definitions:

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated? 1) you have received a booster shot and it has been 7 days or more since your booster shot, or 2) you have received a complete initial vaccination dose(s) and you are not yet eligible for a booster.

What is considered not fully vaccinated? 1) you have received a booster shot and it has been less than 7 days since your booster shot, 2) you have received a complete initial vaccine series and are eligible for a booster, but have not yet received one, 3) you did not complete the initial vaccine series, 4) you have not received any vaccines.

Guidelines for fully vaccinated campus employees and students who have been exposed to COVID-19

Fully vaccinated UC San Diego campus employees and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine at home after their exposure, as long as they meet the following guidelines:

  1. They complete the daily screener and they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste and/or smell).
  2. The exposure was 14 days after completing their initial vaccination series (14 days after the second dose of two-dose vaccinations such as Pfizer/Moderna, 14 days after receiving a single dose-vaccination such as Janssen) or 7 days after their booster shot.
    • Employees or students exposed within 14 days of their initial vaccination series or 7 days within their booster, or have not received complete doses of the vaccine, will be required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated campus employees and students who are exposed to COVID-19 will:

  1. Continue to complete the daily symptom and exposure screener.
  2. Schedule a PCR test upon notification of exposure and on Day 5.  
  3. Must mask at all times on campus, both indoors and outdoors, and must eat alone.
  4. If any symptoms develop, complete the daily symptom and exposure screener, stay home or call the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
  5. Receive instructions for returning to work from COEM. During your 10-day monitoring period, you can attend class, work, campus activities and use University transportation while masked at all times, including indoors, outdoors, and enclosed spaces. The only exception is when eating or drinking, which should be done only when alone and outdoors.
    1. Fully vaccinated exposed students cannot participate in club sports.
    2. Division I athletes may participate as long as their daily antigen test is negative.

Guidelines for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated campus employees and students who have been exposed to COVID-19

Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated UC San Diego campus employees and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 5 days after their exposure. Test upon notification of exposure AND on Day 5 after exposure.

Quarantine may end if:

  • Day 5 test is negative AND
  • Symptoms are improving (or no symptoms) AND
  • Have had no fever for at least 24 hours (that is one full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers),
  • Continue to mask for an additional 5 days (10 days total)

If Day 5 positive: isolate immediately, do not return to work or school, and fill out the daily symptom and exposure screener.

If no test: quarantine for 10 days.

Students and campus employees will:

  1. Report exposure using the daily symptom and exposure screener or call the Testing Support Line (TSL) at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
    1. Students or employees will self-schedule, preferably, a PCR test using the link provided after filling out the daily symptom and exposure screener. 
    2. Continue to monitor and report new symptoms using the daily symptom and exposure screener.
  2. During quarantine, employees and students are not allowed to return to work or classes.
    1. For employees, COEM will provide Return to Work clearance via email.
  3. If you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and develop symptoms during quarantine:
    1. Stay home and complete the daily symptom and exposure screener or call the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
    2. Testing for new onset of symptoms will be required and quarantine may be extended or isolation may be required if the COVID-19 test is positive.
    3. Residential students will be relocated to no-cost campus quarantine housing.

What’s the difference?

Quarantine

When an individual has been exposed to the virus, they are not sick and may not have symptoms. Quarantine guidelines vary based on your vaccination status and affiliation.

Isolation

Keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. You need to stay in your residence for 10 days in a separate room by yourself, whether you have symptoms or not. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.

Positive Results

Case investigation activities are only attempted for University affiliated individuals—students, staff, faculty and others working or living on UC San Diego campuses or sites.

What happens if I test positive at a UC San Diego Health location?

  • You will be notified of the results and receive guidance on the medical care you may need to manage your symptoms. 
  • A case investigation will begin promptly by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team. A representative will connect you with UC San Diego support and will guide you through determining and identifying who is considered to be a close contact. 
  • The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be notified to assess the need for deep cleaning and sanitizing of any residential areas or facilities, completed by campus partners.
  • Case investigations are led by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team. The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) supports employee medical care, and Student Health Services (SHS) supports student medical care.

Privacy of Test Results

  • If you are an on-site employee who tests positive at a UC San Diego Health location, your results will be shared with UC San Diego’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) for campus employees or Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology for Health employees and School of Public Health Contact Tracing team to support contact tracing efforts.
  • In accordance with applicable law, if you are an on-site employee, your supervisor will be informed of the reason why you are not permitted to work on-site to aid in contact tracing and safety efforts, but will be prevented from further sharing the information, to protect your privacy.
  • All test result information will be stored in the Epic health record system. For information about data sharing and privacy related to test results, visit UC San Diego Health Notice of Privacy Practices.

Campus Health Management Program Privacy Practices »

Reporting Positive Results

uc san diego covid-19 drive-thru testing

If you are a student who tests positive at a clinic outside UC San Diego, please contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.

If you are an employee working on campus who tests positive at a clinic outside of UC San Diego, you must report your result to the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260.

Per mandate of the County of San Diego, all positive test results are reported to the County of San Diego Public Health Department.