Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

Guidance for Individuals in Isolation

The news that you have tested positive for COVID-19 may be disconcerting, but the University of Chicago is here to support you as you navigate this period. Whether you live on- or off-campus, this webpage will help you understand what you need to do and what resources are available to you.

General Information on Isolation

Anyone living on campus who tests positive for coronavirus must live in isolation housing until cleared to return to campus by the University’s Contact Tracing Team. Those living off campus are advised to isolate in their homes. Isolation typically lasts for 10 days.

While no one wants to stay away from the rest of campus, the goal of isolation is to enable individuals to recover from illness and prevent spread of COVID-19.  Even if you are asymptomatic, staying in isolation will help keep others safe while you are contagious.

You are welcome to attend classes remotely if you are able. Remote options are available for virtually all classes. You should follow up with your adviser if you require additional academic support.

Once isolation is complete you must continue following the same precautions such as wearing a face covering and maintaining social distance. While you will develop some immunity in order to get over COVID-19, we don’t know how long that will last. The precautions are in place for the safety of our entire community.

Participation in the Mandatory/Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program will be suspended for those who test positive for a period of up to 90 days after testing positive for COVID-19. For more information, please see the Isolation Health FAQs.

Isolation Information for On-Campus Students

If you test positive for COVID-19, a staff member from Housing and Residence Life (HRL) will contact you with further instructions and give you a guide with important information on isolation. 

Our priority is to enable you to retrieve what you need for a comfortable stay in isolation housing, while keeping contact with others to a minimum. After you pack your belongings, the University will provide transportation to the temporary housing assignment. You will have a designated room and bathroom in isolation housing. You may leave your room but cannot leave the building unless you need to seek essential medical care.

Individuals who are isolating should pack:

  • Enough clothing and sleepwear for at least 10 days.
  • Books or class supplies
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Headphones
  • Toiletry kit
  • Eyewear
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications
  • Personal items you need to stay comfortable while you are sick.

UChicago Dining will deliver meals to your room twice per day at lunch and dinner. The next day’s breakfast will be delivered in the evening. Those with special dietary needs may contact UChicago Dining at 773.702.1600 or dining@uchicago.edu.

For more information on isolation on campus, please see the following FAQs.

What if I need something while I’m there?

A care package will be in your room and will include over-the-counter medications that can help with fever, throat soreness, and coughs; tissues; hand sanitizer; lip balm; a mug; teas; and other items to help make your stay in isolation housing comfortable. Vending machines are available in isolation housing and have been stocked with over-the-counter medications.

Any mail or deliveries will first go to your assigned residence hall and then will be delivered to your temporary housing assignment by HRL staff. Please expect a 1 to 3-day delay in receiving any mail or packages. You cannot have mail or packages delivered directly to the isolation residence hall.

Do I need to keep a health log?

You should take your temperature daily and record your symptoms in a health log.  A sample symptom log will be provided in the packet of materials you will receive after you test positive.  Please reach out to your healthcare provider at UChicago Student Wellness to let them know how your symptoms are progressing – even if you remain asymptomatic. 

Can I leave my on-campus isolation residence building for any reason?

According to public health restrictions for COVID-19 positive patients, you may only leave your residence for medical care. However, before coming to the Student Wellness Center, we encourage you to call UChicago Student Wellness at 773-834-WELL so we can determine if a telehealth or in-person visit is best for you. 

Can I talk or socialize with others in isolation housing while I’m there?

Some students in on-campus isolation housing may be assigned to an apartment setting or a double room. Beyond that, the same rules on gatherings apply to isolation housing – students may have no more than one other person in their room at one time. Individuals who are not staying in isolation housing cannot visit the isolation residence halls. The community gathering spaces in isolation residence halls are closed.

Please keep in touch with friends and family who aren’t in isolation housing! It can help you get better faster to connect with people who support you. 

What support is available to me?

You are a valued member of the UChicago community, and your health and wellbeing are important to us. We are here to assist you if you need help. UChicago Student Wellness offers a variety of services, including primary and acute care, counseling, psychiatry, and health promotion programs. Contact information for UChicago Student Wellness and other campus resources is listed below.

UChicago Student Wellness (Medical Support)

773.834.WELL (available 24/7)

UChicago Student Wellness (Counseling and Mental Health Support)

773.702.3625 (available 24/7)

Dean-on-Call

Call UCPD at 773.702.8181 and ask that they page the Dean-on-Call. Be prepared to leave a 10-digit call-back number.

Area Dean of Students

csl.uchicago.edu/get-help/area-dean-students

University of Chicago Medicine’s Emergency Department

773.702.6250 (available 24/7)

Housing & Residence Life Support (Available 9 a.m.-7 p.m. everyday)

773-702-3749

What do I do if I need medical care?

A clinician from UChicago Student Wellness will contact you at least once per day while you are in isolation to discuss your health status and any needs you have.

You can reach the UChicago Student Wellness Nurse Advice Line 24/7 at 773.834.WELL. If you develop symptoms or need medical triage/help while in isolation, please call UChicago Student Wellness and a nurse will determine if you should leave the premises to seek medical attention. Please dial 911 in case of emergency.

What do I do if I need mental health care?

Being sick or in isolation can be a tough time.  Please take advantage of our confidential and free mental health support, even if you just want someone to talk to.  Call 773.702.9800 to make a virtual appointment with UChicago Student Wellness. Please let us know you have tested positive for COVID-19 when you call, if you are comfortable sharing that information.

Drop-in counseling sessions are also available via Zoom, Monday through Friday, or you can reach the Therapist-on-Call 24/7 at 773.702.3625 to discuss anything troubling you. Visit http://wellness.uchicago.edu for more details.

What is the protocol for leaving isolation?

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health, people in isolation housing will be required to remain until:

  1. At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms, (or if the individual is asymptomatic, at least 10 days since the administration of the positive test) 
  2. AND at least one day (24 hours) has passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications,
  3. AND other symptoms have improved

In short, you will be in isolation for at least ten days from your positive test if you were asymptomatic or the start of your symptoms.  You may need to stay longer if you aren’t better at the end of the 10 days. 

The Contact Tracing Team will contact you after you have spent 10 days in isolation to begin the process of clearing you to leave isolation. If you meet the CDC criteria above, the Contact Tracing Team will clear you to return to your regular residence. The Contact Tracing Team will also notify HRL, and HRL will contact you to arrange for transportation back to your residence hall.  UChicago Student Wellness will also follow up to offer any support needed for any continuing care. 

After testing positive for COVID-19, you will be automatically removed from the University’s Mandatory Surveillance Testing Program for 90 days.

Isolation Information for Off-Campus Students

Those who test positive for COVID-19 and are living off-campus are advised to isolate in their residences. UChicago Student Wellness will contact you with further instructions and give you a guide with important information on isolation. 

If you live with roommates, the CDC recommends that you:

  • Separate yourself from others and stay in a specific “sick” bedroom or space and use a different bathroom (if possible).
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people or pets in your home.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” while wearing disposable gloves. Disinfect the bathroom after every time you use it.
  • Eat separately from your roommates, and do not help with preparing food.
  • If possible, have only one person in the household care for you if you need assistance. Anyone who is in the same room with you for any period should wear a mask, clean their hands often, and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Please contact your area dean of students if you need help looking into options for the isolation period. For health-related questions, contact UChicago Student Wellness at 773.834.WELL. 

For more information on isolation off campus, please see the following FAQs

How do I get meals and other items I need?

UChicago GRAD has a list of services that may be helpful for students who must isolate at home, including grocery and food delivery, pharmacy delivery, pet supplies delivery, and laundry services. Once you have tested positive for COVID, you may not leave your residence except to get medical care. 

What additional resources does the University provide?

Free care packages and cleaning kits are available by request for off-campus students in isolation in the Chicagoland area. They can be requested via an online request form and will be delivered the next business day.

Should I monitor my health while in isolation?

Please take your temperature daily and monitor your symptoms, and please share your symptoms with your healthcare provider at UChicago Student Wellness, even if you are asymptomatic. If you feel your symptoms are worsening, be sure to contact UChicago Student Wellness for more help.  If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or are unable to eat or drink, you should get emergency medical care – dial 911 and be sure to let them know you have COVID-19.

What do I do if I need medical care?

You can reach the UChicago Student Wellness Nurse Advice Line 24/7 at 773.834.WELL to discuss any questions or concerns you have. If you develop symptoms or need medical triage/help while in isolation, please call UChicago Student Wellness and a nurse will determine if you should leave the premises to seek medical attention. Please dial 911 in case of emergency.

What do I do if I need mental health care?

Being sick or in isolation can be a tough time.  Please take advantage of our confidential and free mental health support, even if you just want someone to talk to.  Call  773.702.9800 to make a virtual appointment with UChicago Student Wellness. Please let us know you have tested positive for COVID-19 when you call, if you are comfortable sharing that information. Drop-in counseling sessions are also available via Zoom, Monday through Friday, or you can reach the Therapist-on-Call 24/7 at 773.702.3625 to discuss your mental health concerns. Visit http://wellness.uchicago.edu for more details.

Can I leave my residence while in isolation for any reason?

According to public health restrictions for COVID-positive patients, you may only leave your residence for medical care. However, before coming to the Student Wellness Center, we encourage you to call UChicago Student Wellness at 773-834-WELL so we can determine if a telehealth or in-person visit is best for you. 

What is the protocol for ending isolation?

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health, people with COVID-19 are required to remain in isolation until:

  1. At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms (or if the individual is asymptomatic, at least 10 days since the administration of the positive test), AND
  2. At least one day (24 hours) has passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  3. Other symptoms have improved.

In short, you will need to be in isolation for at least 10 days from the start of your symptoms or the date of your positive test.  You may need to stay in isolation longer if you still have a fever or are not getting better before the 10 days are up.  For more information, contact Student Wellness.

The University’s Contact Tracing Team will contact you after you have spent 10 days in isolation. If you meet the CDC criteria above, the Contact Tracing team will clear you to end your isolation period.

After testing positive for COVID-19, you will be automatically removed from the University’s Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program for 90 days.

If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu, even if you have not been on campus.