Yale COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program and Close Contact Guidance

Updated September 28, 2021

To optimize the safety of the campus environment, Yale has implemented a campus-based contact tracing program.


What Is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is an important disease control measure to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This process begins by asking individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 about people with whom they had contact while they may have been infectious. These people (‘contacts’) are then notified about their potential exposure without revealing the identity of the person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Contacts are provided guidance on how to take care of themselves and prevent transmission to others.

It is important to note that Yale Contact Tracing Team (YCTT) does not routinely conduct broad notifications, such as all members of a class when a student is diagnosed with COVID.  However, if specific circumstances raise a concern about broader transmission, the YCTT will work with public health advisors to determine if additional actions are warranted. Because the university has put in place layers of protection—vaccination, masking, ventilation reviews, testing, personal responsibility—we anticipate that the YCTT and public health advisors will rarely identify a need to call for broad notification or additional classroom or workplace measures. However, if you have concerns about circumstances in your classroom or workplace that may pose a risk, you may contact your HSL or the CCRL at 203-432-6604.

What to Expect

Here is what you can expect if you are a member of the Yale community and you test positive for COVID-19.

1. Prior to contact tracing, you will be notified of your test result.

If you are tested by Yale, either at Yale Health or through a campus-based screening program (for staff, students or faculty), you will be notified of the test result and given appropriate clinical guidance. You will also be informed that the YCTT will call you for a contact tracing interview. If you are tested outside of Yale, you should call the Campus COVID Resource Line (203-432-6604) to notify them of your test result. Through either of these mechanisms, the YCTT will be notified, and a member of the team will call you for a contact tracing interview. You may also call the Campus COVID Resource Line anytime for guidance.

2. Next, the YCTT will call you for a contact tracing interview.

Our goal is to call you within 24 hours of your test result. During this interview, you may ask questions, and you will be referred to additional resources as needed. You will be asked about your close contacts during the time you were infectious (2 days prior to symptom onset or 2 days prior to testing if you are asymptomatic). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a close contact is defined as someone who has been within 6 feet of you for an accumulated 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Please note that wearing a mask (either the case or the contact) does not factor into the definition of a close contact.

  • We will ask about people who meet this definition, such as co-workers and other members of the Yale community (staff, faculty, students) with whom you had contact outside of the workplace.
  • We will also ask about your household contacts or those with whom you share a living space like suitemates or roommates.
  • We realize that you may also have community-based contacts, meaning contacts beyond the Yale campus. The YCTT will ask about your close community-based contacts. These contacts will be referred to the local health department. You may also receive a call from your local health department for community-based contact tracing. If you receive such a call, please cooperate with the local health authorities by participating in the interview.
  • We will also ask you a series of questions regarding possible source of infection. Questions include elicitation of key individuals, places, and events which assist the contact tracing team in identifying common sources of infection, clustering of cases, and contribute to the prevention of ongoing transmission.

3. Finally, close contacts who are identified by the index case will be notified by the YCTT.

The YCTT will notify all close contacts within the Yale community and household contacts.

  • Your identity will not be revealed to any contacts. Close contacts of a COVID-19 will not be used to initiate disciplinary proceedings among students.
  • All contacts (vaccinated and unvaccinated) will be asked to monitor symptoms by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for other COVID-19 symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath. Students will receive a daily survey to monitor their symptoms.
  • All contacts will be required to test for COVID-19.

Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated are:

  • Required to quarantine in their residence for 10 days. This means staying at home, not going to work, or to run errands around town.
    • Students in quarantine may leave their residence to:
      • Pick up meals (meals should be taken back to the individual’s residence to be eaten.
      • Attend medical appointments and testing. Masking and social distancing should be practiced at all times.
    • Students who are unvaccinated close contacts will be asked to move to an alternative location if they are not in a single room.
  • Follow your regular testing schedule, 3 tests in 8 days with at least 48 hours in between tests.
  • Review our facts sheets on What to Do During Quarantine:

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated are:

  • Not required to quarantine, but precautions must still be taken to reduce the chance of spreading virus. Follow these guidelines to keep you healthy while also protecting others from being exposed to illness.
  • Required to test 3 times in 5 days: upon notification of exposure (day 1), 48 hours later (day 3), and 48 hours after that (day 5).
  • Required to monitor for symptoms for 10 days. If symptoms develop, self-isolate, and schedule symptomatic testing.
  • Observe the following restrictions during the testing period and until 3 negative tests have been received:
    • Mask and physical distance both outdoors and indoors including residences and work areas.
    • Avoid indoor or group outdoor aerosolizing activity as much as possible.
    • Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet or 2 meters) from others as much as possible.
    • On campus students may not eat in dining halls, or other indoor spaces, but may eat outside. To-go dining meals are available from the dining halls. Off-campus students should restrict indoor dining (expect at own residence) and all social gathering are discouraged during the testing period.
    • If all three tests are negative, you may resume usual activities following campus public health guidelines.

Available Support Services

Being identified as a close contact can be a difficult time and you may find yourself worrying about whether you may become sick. Try to keep yourself and your mind busy, and stay connected with people who can support you.

  • The Yale Health team is available 24/7 to help and offer you the opportunity to have any questions answered.
  • You can contact the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604.
  • Up-to-date university guidance and information about COVID-19 can be found at covid19.yale.edu.