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

Updated July 26, 2022

Isolation 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.
  • The duration of isolation is 7 days from the date that the positive test was collected.
  • You may return to work/school at day 8 if you’ve had no fever for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving. Please remain masked at all times until day 10.

*Off-campus undergraduate students participate in the proctored NAVICA/eMed rapid antigen test out process:

  • Call isolation housing at 203-432-4020 to pick up 2 test kits.
  • Proctored rapid antigen testing for all undergraduate students begins on day 5 of isolation (positive test date = Day 0; in certain cases an inconclusive test date is used as Day 0). Instructions for downloading the NAVICA app and linking to Yale are located here, and is also sent via email (Sender: Yale Health notification team, Title: Yale Health Alert). Proctored testing is conducted by eMed.
  • Students who test negative at day 5 may return to their dorms, classes, and all activities, however must continue to mask at all times including in the house/suite and make use of grab and go meals through day 10.
  • Students who test positive need to book another test for day 6. If still testing positive at day 6, students will be released at day 7 (without a test) and may return to their dorms, classes, and all activities, however must continue to mask at all times including in the house/suite and make use of grab and go meals through day 10.

Individuals with positive tests will be exempted from testing requirements 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 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 fully vaccinated 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, wear a mask or face covering in the common areas of your home. 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.

  • Talk with your family and/or friends. Sometimes listening to someone else talk about their day or having the opportunity to vent can keep us from getting caught in our own heads.
  • Open your window and get some fresh air. This can help you from feeling cooped up or your room feeling “stuffy”.
  • Read. Whether it is for pleasure or for an assignment, reading can be a great escape from reality for a while. Even better if you can take a break from screens and read a print-book.  
  • Get moving. If you feel well enough, do some stretches, march around your room, do some “bodyweight only” exercises or jumping jacks.
  • Eat well and hydrate. When we are out of our routines, we can forget to take care of our basic needs, like eating meals and staying hydrated.  This is especially important when you are sick.
  • Listen to music or guided meditations. Relax and listen to calming music or follow a guided meditation.  You can explore many free mindfulness and meditation resources at yalehealth.yale.edu/mindfulness-meditation-yale
  • Take a break from the news. If reading news articles or staying up-to-date on alerts about COVID-19 is making you anxious, take a break.
  • Enjoy virtual Yale.

What About My Close Contacts?

Yale has implemented a COVID Outreach Program to optimize the safety of our campus. Learn more about the Yale COVID-19 Outreach Program.