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What happens if a student tests positive for Covid?

American University has a robust protocol for contact tracing and notification, which is a key tool in controlling the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our community safe and healthy. Here's what happens when a student tests positive for Covid-19. (If you're faculty or staff, scroll down for more information.)

If You Test Positive & Live in University Housing

If you tested through AU: 

  • You'll get the notification on your Shield T-3 app as soon as the lab has the results. The lab notifies you and AU at the same time.
    • Yes, this means it could be the middle of the night - before AU's Covid Team calls you. Please don't worry! AU's Covid Team will call you around 8 a.m. with instructions about Isolation Housing.
  • AU's Covid team will call you and discuss how and when you'll be transported to Isolation Housing and what to bring.
  • You'll also be contacted by AU's Contact Tracing team. They'll find out who may have interacted with you while you've been contagious (friends, classmates, hallmates, etc.) so they can be notified with instructions.
  • Before going to Isolation Housing, please self-isolate in your room. (You can use community bathrooms, but wear a mask and distance.)

If Your Roommate Tests Positive

  • You'll be considered a Close Contact, and will be called by AU shortly with instructions, along with other Close Contacts. 
  • If you live in university housing, your roommate will move to Isolation Housing within a few hours of contact by AU's Covid Team. Please stay calm, stay masked, and be supportive while your roommate waits to be moved.
  • You may stay in your room with your roommate while they wait to be moved. Don't expose others unnecessarily by going to a friend's room or a lounge. 

Close Contacts

A Close Contact is someone who is a roommate or has closely interacted with a person who tests positive. It's defined by the CDC as having been within six feet for a total of 15+ minutes in a 24-hour period. So that could also mean, for instance, being within six feet three times during the course of one day, for five minutes each time. 

AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification Team will call you with instructions about testing, self-monitoring, and quarantine (if needed).

If you ARE fully vaccinated:

  • You do not need to quarantine. Continue going to class. You may continue all activities as usual, unless you feel unwell.
  • Test 3-5 days after exposure. The email will give you specific dates (based on likely exposure).
  • Self-monitor for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and get a test if you experience any of those symptoms.

If you are NOT fully vaccinated:

  • You must quarantine in your room for 10 days. You will receive a phone call with detailed information.
    • Stay in your room as much as possible, except to pick up food and use community bathrooms. (Always mask and distance, as usual!)
    • Do not go to class. Your faculty will be informed by the Dean of Students office, so don't worry - your absence is excused. Professors will be flexible!
  • Test 3-5 days after exposure. You will be provided with the specific dates (based on likely exposure.) 
  • Self-monitor for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and get a test if you experience any of those symptoms.

Proximity Contacts

Proximity Contacts are people who spent some time in the vicinity of a Covid-positive individual and may warrant testing, but are not a Close Contact. For instance, it might be someone in the same class. AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team determines who is a Proximity Contact and reaches out to them.

  • You do not need to quarantine. Asymptomatic "Proximity Contacts" are expected to continue going to class. You can participate in your campus activities as usual.
  • Make sure to take a surveillance test during the time frame provided in the email. (That will be 3-5 days after exposure.)
  • Self-monitor for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and get a test if you experience any of those symptoms.

Isolation Housing

Residential students who test positive for Covid-19 will be transported to AU's off-campus Isolation Housing for a minimum of 10 days.

  • You'll be picked up at a pre-set time (within a few hours of notification).
  • Please bring clothes, medicine, academic materials, your laptop, comfort items, entertainment, and anything else you need for at least 10 days of isolation. 
  • Your space will have a private bathroom, mini-fridge, food delivery to your door, water, and other amenities. 
  • You will have basic medical supplies provided for self-monitoring (such as pulse oximeter and thermometer), and will also be monitored by the Student Health Center and AU's Covid Team.
  • Isolation Housing has on-site staff.
  • Mail and packages sent to campus can be forwarded to you in isolation upon request.

  • The minimum 10-day isolation can be extended at medical discretion. Isolation must continue until you are no longer infectious, so please prepare with that in mind!

If You Test Positive & Live Off-Campus

While Isolation Housing is not available for students living off-campus, all other conditions apply. 

  • If the test was not through the Student Health Center, use the Self-Report form to inform AU.
  • Self-isolate for 10 days.
  • You may not attend class until your isolation period is over. Your faculty will be informed that your absence is approved, and will be flexible with assignments during this time.

What happens if faculty or staff test positive for Covid?

Faculty and staff who test positive for Covid must self-isolate. If you're a student who may have been exposed by a faculty or staff member, you'll be notified by AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team and provided with instructions, as warranted. It will not identify if the exposure came from a faculty member, staff member, or student.

If You Are a Faculty or Staff Member

If you test positive through AU: You'll get the notification on your Shield T-3 app as soon as the lab has the results. AU is automatically notified as well.

If you tested positive outside AU: Use the Self-Report Form to report your results to AU.

Here's what happens next:

  • You must self-isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days.
  • AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team will reach out and ask you about close and proximate contacts who may have interacted with you while you may have been contagious.
  • Your contacts will be notified with directions on testing and next steps. Your name will not be shared.
  • Employee Relations will consult with faculty and staff regarding available leave; coordinate with your supervisor, Dean, or department chair; and facilitate your return to work.
  • AU community members who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to comply with the Affiliate Notification Program and cooperate with contact tracing efforts. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

If you are a Close Contact or Proximity Contact:

  • Faculty and Staff who are Close or Proximity Contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid, and are known to AU, are notified and provided with instructions by AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team.