Students - Testing Positive, Quarantine & Isolation

Testing Positive

After testing positive, those who test positive through the Penn Cares Testing Program will be contacted by the Penn Cares contact tracing team and will be provided clinical and public health guidance.

If you test positive for COVID-19 from an at-home test, you can refer to the most up-to-date public health guidance. If you need additional guidance, assistance with clinical care, or advice about contact tracing and notification of close contacts, you can reach our team via email at or by phone at 215-898-0300.

I’ve tested positive, what can I do to take care of myself and others?

You can…

  • Reach out to the Penn Cares contact tracing team at 215-898-0300 to help those you’ve seen receive guidance on next steps.
  • Create and review a roommate agreement with your household.
  • Be diligent about masking immediately and stay in your room as much as possible.
  • Reach out to Student Health and Counseling for medical care at 215-746-3535 if you are concerned about your symptoms.
  • Coordinate times, use good hand hygiene, and mask as much as possible when using shared bathrooms with others.
  • Pick up to-go food when others are unavailable to pick it up for you. For more instructions on how to order, go to Sick & Flu Policy | Penn Dining.
  • Go on walks for fresh air if you feel well enough, making sure you are complying with masking and distancing.

Someone I live with has tested positive, what can I do to take care of myself and others?

You can…

  • Reach out to the Penn Cares contact tracing team at 215-898-0300 for guidance on what to do.
  • Create and review a roommate agreement with your household.
  • Be mindful of how you’re feeling. Mask and test right away if you develop symptoms.
  • Mask any time you want.
  • Coordinate times and use good hand hygiene when using shared bathrooms with others.
  • Eat meals outside and/or distanced from others.
  • Offer to pick up food or other supplies for those that are unwell.

Contact Tracing

A contact tracer will follow-up with anyone who tests positive through the Penn Cares Testing Program to provide guidance on isolation and to make sure they receive the needed healthcare. The contact tracer will also ask about activities leading up to infection and the contacts they may have had. These conversations are thorough, nuanced, and require collaboration between the individual and contact tracer.

Contact tracers are also available to answer questions or provide guidance to anyone that tests positive for COVID outside of Penn’s testing program or on a home test. Contact tracers can help provide access to additional resources across campus or simply put your mind at ease after you have tested positive. They can be reached at 215-898-0300.

The notification of contacts is performed without identifying the source and notifies others who have had a high-risk exposure. Contact tracers notify individuals of their exposure via phone or secure message.

Close contacts are identified as housemates, roommates, intimate partners, and those who spent 15+ minutes within 6 feet of a confirmed case during their infectious. 

In the case of clinical and lab settings, PPE often mitigates the risk of proximity and length of exposure. In these cases, the contact tracing team will ask very detailed questions about these interactions to ensure the appropriate risk is assigned. These risk levels vary as public health guidance changes. Working collaboratively with the contact tracer is critical.


Quarantine and Isolation

Visit the Public Health Guidance page for information about quarantine and isolation guidance. The University follows guidance from the CDC, which updates their guidance regularly. 

Per the recent update from the CDC regarding quarantine guidance, individuals who have a high-risk exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, are not required to quarantine and are permitted to attend class while masked. Those with an exposure should test immediately and then again five days after exposure. They should continue to monitor for symptoms and wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days post-exposure. If symptoms present, they should test immediately. 

All Penn students are required to isolate in their rooms (if living on or off campus). This includes those who share an on-campus bedroom. Positive students should stay at home and mask whenever they are in the company of others. All people in isolation should order food in or ask a friend/family member/roommate to drop off groceries or a meal. If meal delivery or pick-up by others is not possible, students may pick up to-go food while diligently masking and maintaining social distancing. Masks must be worn anytime you are outside of the bedroom. Do not travel, go to class, work, or participate in any social activities. Do not host friends or gatherings. Do not attend gatherings.

Proper cleaning of surface areas should be a priority for all in isolation.

Penn Dining
During COVID-19 it is important that students on a dining plan understand how to access their meals when they are sick or in isolation.

For more information visit the Penn Dining site.