Fact Sheet for Students: What to Do While Isolating Off Campus

Updated January 6, 2023

Note: For isolation guidance purposes, ALL graduate students are considered off-campus.

Isolation and outreach guidance for close contacts prevents the spread of an infectious disease like COVID-19 by separating people who have tested positive from those who have not. Because of your positive test you will need to isolate at home, even if you do not have symptoms, to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Hearing that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to isolate can be unsettling, but the goal is to keep you safe while also protecting others from being exposed to illness.

Length of Isolation

  • Day 0 = the day you took your COVID-19 test. In certain cases, an inconclusive test date is also used as Day 0.
  • The maximum duration of isolation is 7 days from the date that your positive test was collected. If at day 5, you have had no fever for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving, you have the option to perform rapid antigen testing to determine if you may safely leave isolation early. Details are provided below.

Rapid Antigen Test-out Process

Undergraduate students

  • Call isolation housing at 203-432-4020 to pick up 2 rapid antigen test kits.

Graduate and professional students

  • If you have Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty coverage, you may complete this form to order rapid antigen tests through Yale Health and ask for curbside pickup to avoid entering the health center. If you purchase an EUA-authorized rapid test kit from a retailer, Yale Health provides information about submitting for reimbursement.
  • If you waived Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty coverage, rapid antigen tests are widely available at retail pharmacies and online. Contact your insurance provider about reimbursement options.

All students

  • When you are ready to test, follow the package instructions. Take a photograph of the result for documentation. You do NOT need to submit the result to the university.
  • If you test negative at day 5, you may release yourself from isolation and return to your classes and all activities. Take a picture of your negative result. You do not need to report the result to the university; however, you should be prepared to display your test result if asked. You must remain masked until day 10. Undergraduate students should continue to make use of grab-and-go meals through day 10.
  • If you test positive on day 5, you should test again on day 6. If you are negative, you are released as above.
  • If you test positive on day 6 or chose not to test during this time period, further testing is not necessary. You will be formally released from isolation via email on day 7. 
  • You must remain masked until day 10.

You should not PCR test for 90 days as tests may remain positive even after infection has resolved and you are no longer infectious. If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID during this 90-day period, you might be advised to take a rapid antigen test by your provider.

If you have a testing requirement for your school, you will be exempted for 90 days as PCR tests may remain positive even after infection has resolved and individuals are no longer infectious. In specific situations, if symptoms develop during the 90-day period, a provider might recommend rapid antigen testing.

What to Watch for

Many cases of COVID-19 are mild but you need to take symptoms seriously. If you develop new worrisome symptoms or your symptoms are getting worse, call your primary care provider, or after hours, Acute Care: 203-432-0123.

Call 911 immediately if you develop:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face


There are now effective treatments available for those with mild or moderate symptoms who may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. This includes individuals who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines or over age 65, as well as those with certain medical risk factors. If you have symptoms, please contact your primary care provider right away to see if you are eligible for treatment.

While Isolating

  • Stay in your home, preferably in a separate room from others. You should not have visitors and should avoid close contact with others in the home.
  • If you live with family or have roommates and cannot fully isolate away from them, all should wear a mask when in a common space. Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.
  • Monitor your health and call your primary care provider if you have questions or concerns.
  • Do not share items with others, like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, etc.
  • Do not shake hands, hug, kiss, or engage in other physical contact.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • People in isolation can utilize a shared bathroom one at a time, wearing a mask and cleaning after use.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces daily: counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, bedside tables, etc.
  • Have food, groceries and other supplies delivered through a no contact method.

Up-to-date university guidance and information about COVID-19 can be found at covid19.yale.edu.

Ways to Stay Active and Connected

Isolation can be a difficult time and you may find yourself worrying. Try to keep yourself and your mind busy, and stay connected with people who can support you.