Yale COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program and Close Contact Guidance

Updated March 9, 2022

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.

We ask individuals who are infected with COVID-19 to inform household members/suitemates and those they were in contact with that they were potentially exposed. Close contacts should follow the guidelines below. Currently, we are prioritizing contact tracing in areas with ongoing transmission and among our highest-risk groups.

Who is a Close Contact?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who has been within 6 feet an infected person for an accumulated 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the time they were infectious (2 days prior to symptom onset or 2 days prior to testing if case is asymptomatic).

Note: Wearing a mask (either the case or the contact) does not factor into the definition of a close contact.

What to Expect

Yale University contact tracing guidelines are based on the most up to date CDC guidance and, in accordance with, state and local health department protocols. Here is what you can expect if you are a member of the Yale community and you test positive for COVID-19.

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.

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. Employees will be asked about their close contacts during the time they were infectious (2 days prior to symptom onset or 2 days prior to testing if you are asymptomatic). Students will be provided guidance for their close contacts during the interview and will be asked to notify them of their close contact exposure.

  • We may ask you about members of the Yale community who meet this definition.
  • We will provide you with guidance for your close contacts.
  • You may also have community-based contacts, meaning contacts beyond the Yale campus. You may 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.
  • Contact tracing also performs case investigation. This is 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.
  • Please note, any information collected during the contact tracing interview will not be used to initiate disciplinary proceedings among students or staff/faculty.

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

The YCTT will notify all close contacts elicited. Most notifications to your close contacts will be done through email. Your identity will not be revealed to any contacts.

What Do I Do Now?

Once identified as a close contact, the guidance you follow is based on your vaccination status. Protocols for each category are described below. Please note, these guidelines may differ for certain Yale programs and activities. Please reach out to yctt@yale.edu if you require further guidance.

  1. Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated (less than 14 days from primary series) or booster eligible and not yet boosted should:
    • Quarantine in their residence for 5 days. This means staying at home, not going to work, class, or to run errands around town and masking in outdoor and indoor settings.
    • Mask for an additional 5 days following completion of quarantine in both outdoor and indoor settings.
    • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days. If symptoms develop, self-isolate, and schedule symptomatic testing.
    • Students in quarantine may leave their residence to:
      • Pick up meals. Meals should be taken back to the individual’s residence to be eaten.
      • Go to COVID testing. Masking and social distancing should be practiced at all times.
      • Students in this category may be asked to move to an alternative location if they are not in a single room.
    • If unvaccinated, follow your regular testing schedule, 3 tests in 8 days with at least 48 hours in between tests.
    • If vaccinated and booster eligible but not yet boosted, test 3 times in 5 days: upon notification of exposure (day 1), 48 hours later (day 3), and 48 hours after that (day 5).
  2. Close contacts who are fully vaccinated (14 days or more from primary series) and not booster eligible OR have received their booster shot:
    • Do not need to quarantine. Precautions must still be taken to reduce the chance of spreading virus, keep you healthy while also protecting others from being exposed to illness. You should:
    • Test 3 times in 5 days: upon notification of exposure (day 1), 48 hours later (day 3), and 48 hours after that (day 5).
    • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days. If symptoms develop, self-isolate, and schedule symptomatic testing.
    • Observe the following restrictions for 10 days from the date of exposure:
      • Mask in both outdoor and indoor settings.
      • Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet or 2 meters).
      • On campus students may not eat in dining halls, or other indoor spaces, but may eat outside or alone. To-go dining meals are available from the dining halls. Off-campus students should restrict indoor dining (except at own residence).
      • All social gatherings are discouraged during this period.

If you are a healthcare worker, Yale University clinicians should follow guidance specific to the location(s) where they deliver care. All other non-clinician healthcare workers should follow requirements for vaccinated and boosted above (no quarantine, test, mask in indoor/outdoor settings 10 days from date of exposure) which aligns with current Yale New Haven Health exposure guidance.

On day 11 from date of exposure, all close contacts that remain symptom free, 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.

  • You can contact the YCTT via yctt@yale.edu if you have any questions or concerns about contact tracing
  • 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.

Respect for Your Privacy

Throughout this entire process, respect for your privacy will be a primary consideration. The Yale Contact Tracing Team will not reveal your identity to any contacts. The team will further limit sharing of information to those who need to know by only notifying contacts with some level of risk. The team will not share information more widely than needed to control the spread of COVID-19.