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What is Quarantine/Isolation?

While isolation and quarantine are intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms. For additional information on the difference between quarantine and isolation, visit the Penn State virus website. 

This information is based on the most recent Penn State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. 


If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, those who are vaccinated and boosted do not need to quarantine. If you are not vaccinated and not boosted the CDC recommendation is 5 days of quarantine. A contact tracer will reach out to you to discuss quarantine living options. 

Residential students will quarantine by moving into a quarantine room on campus and can end quarantine after five days with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine if you have no symptoms. You must continue to monitor yourself for virus symptoms for the full 10 days.

Non-Residential students may quarantine at their off-campus apartment and can discontinue quarantine on day six if symptom free.

During your quarantine period, our Student Support Services team is available to check-in regularly with you. 


If you experience COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test, you will be directed to isolate by University Health Services or a member of the contact tracing staff for a minimum of 5 days. The staff will discuss isolation living options with you. 

Residential students will isolate by moving into an isolation room on campus and can end isolation after 10 days without testing, or after five days with a negative test result. Test can be taken on or after day five if you are symptom free, or all symptoms are improved, and you have been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication.

If these criteria are not met, or you test positive, you must remain in isolation and are encouraged to test again in 48 hours (about 2 days). A rapid antigen test should be used to test out of isolation, as PCR results may remain positive past the period of infectiousness. 

Students will receive instructions from Contact Tracing on where to upload third-party and self-administered, at-home negative test results for the purpose of testing out of isolation.

Non-Residential students should isolate themselves at home, ideally in a space where they can avoid contact with others in their household and may discontinue isolation on day six if they are symptom free, or symptoms are improved and they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication.

Non-Residential students who cannot safely isolate in their residence may reach out contact tracing for availability on-campus. Isolation space is extremely limited, therefore Non-Residential students are strongly encouraged to isolate where they live when at all possible. Students will follow the same protocol as Residential students

During your isolation period, our Student Support Services team will be available to check-in regularly with you.

Entering Quarantine and Isolation

Once you have checked in to your quarantine/isolation space, you will not be able to leave for any reason apart from COVID-19 testing, medical treatment, or an emergency. Limiting movement to your room reduces the likelihood of community spread. Please make sure you have everything you need when entering quarantine/isolation. 

What items should I pack for on-campus quarantine/isolation?

Please prepare the following items for your quarantine/isolation period. You will not be allowed back into your assigned room until you are cleared to return. No personal items will be retrieved for you after you have moved into your quarantine/isolation space. Please double check that you packed all your personal and academic needs as it may be up to a 14-day stay.  

Each room has a small refrigerator and microwave. Linens (including towels) will be provided.

Room needs:

  • Pillow and pillowcase 
  • Comfortable blanket
  • Personal needs  
  • Clean, comfortable clothing
  • Slippers/house shoes are encouraged
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks 


  • Handheld gaming system
  • Hobbies (knitting, puzzles, etc.)
  • Coloring books
  • Crossword puzzles or paper games
  • Books


  • Shampoo/conditioner, body wash/soap, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, shaving razors/cream, etc.
  • Eyeglasses/contacts and related supplies  
  • Pre-packaged snacks/drinks you already have in your room  
  • Medications  
  • Thermometer 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Face Masks 

Academic needs 

  • PSU ID, wallet with state/government-issued ID, health insurance cards  
  • Laptop and charger  
  • Phone and charger  
  • Headphones  
  • Textbooks, notebook, pens/pencils, and highlighters
What will my room look like in quarantine/isolation?

All quarantine and isolation spaces in Eastview Terrace have a private bathroom which is adjoined to the bedroom.  Each room has a desk, microwave-fridge, chest of drawers, a wardrobe, and a window.  

Room Layout for Eastview Terrace Rooms

Eastview Terrace Room with bed, desk, large window, and microwave/refrigerator combo.
All the quarantine/isolation rooms in Eastview Terrace have a large window.
Private bathroom in Eastview Terrace rooms
Eastview Terrace rooms have a good-sized private bathroom.


Is transportation provided to quarantine/isolation?

Transportation is not provided at this time. 

What will happen when I arrive at University quarantine/isolation housing?

Staff will greet you and escort you to your assigned space, explain expectations, and discuss meal options. You will also be provided with contact information for staff should any concerns arise or if you need support.

How will I receive my meals?

All meals will be provided by Penn State Food Services. Residence Life and Food Services will work directly with you for meal delivery to your room as well as discuss any specific dietary needs. Students pay for their own meals in quarantine/isolation with their meal plan, LionCash, or by having meals billed to their bursar account. 

May I have items delivered to quarantine/isolation?

University Park staff will work to deliver packages to your room in quarantine/isolation. Please know that packages may arrive at your current location up to 24 hours after receiving the notification. Staff will knock on your door and leave your package outside of your room. Please remember to always wear a mask when you open your door. 

Students in quarantine/isolation at other campus locations should inquire about package delivery during check-in.

What assistance will Student Support Services provide?

Staff in Student Support Services are here to help support students throughout the quarantine and isolation process. Case managers will check in and evaluate and help coordinate services and resources for students’ individual needs. This includes physical and mental health resources, academic assistance, and dining services. Student Support Services will also assist with notifying faculty members when a student is unable to attend in-person classes.

How will faculty members and instructors know I am unable to attend class?

For students enrolled in in-person classes, Student Support Services will contact their faculty members and instructors to let them know the dates the student is not permitted to be in class, and the date they are cleared to return.

Faculty and instructors will not be told specific medical information, unless the student gives permission, about why a student will not be in class or if a student is in isolation or quarantine. Faculty and instructors should not assume a student has COVID-19 or under any circumstance share the identity of the student with classmates. An email indicating the specified period of time a student can’t be in class does not equate to a positive COVID-19 case.

What if I attend in-person class when I'm supposed to be in quarantine/isolation?

If a student intentionally comes to class during the time frame indicated in the notification, faculty and instructors will ask them to leave and refer the student to the Office of Student Conduct. Students will be held accountable if they knowingly put the health and safety of others at risk.

Am I able to attend class remotely if I am in quarantine/isolation?

Talk to your instructor about how to handle missed work while in quarantine/isolation. 

If I must quarantine/isolate, will my information and health status be shared with others?

To support the privacy of those involved in the contact tracing process, the identity of the student or employee who tested positive or is presumed positive will not be shared with close contacts without permission. The University will provide confidential notifications to their faculty, instructors, or supervisors to enable accommodations and support. Instructors and supervisors will not share the identity of the individual with classmates or colleagues. Beyond these notifications, the University will only share information about an individual’s health status as needed and as appropriate if there is a concern for the safety of the campus community.

Faculty and instructors will not be told specific medical information, unless the student gives permission, about why a student will not be in class or if a student is in isolation or quarantine. Faculty and instructors should not assume a student has COVID-19 or under any circumstance share the identity of the student with classmates. An email indicating the specified period of time a student can’t be in class does not equate to a positive COVID-19 case.

Staying Well During Quarantine and Isolation 

While quarantine and isolation efforts are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they may lead to other, unintended health consequences. According to the CDC, increased feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression can be associated with social isolation. 

Penn State values the holistic wellbeing of each student and encourages students who are feeling the effects of COVID-19 isolation to reach out for support. We encourage students who have been impacted by quarantine and isolation to review the following guidance and to use the resources provided. 

Take care of yourself physically and mentally

If you feel unwell or have health concerns

Students should not hesitate to contact a health professional if their symptoms have worsened or if there have other health concerns. 

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or need support

Implement the principles of "AT HOME" during quarantine and isolation

Consider implementing the principles of  “AT HOME” during isolation to create an environment of consistency and awareness, and to maximize positive outcomes after quarantine. 

[A]sk for Help 

  • Connect with, and reach out to friends, family, University resources, and other support channels 

  • Inform others that if you are struggling, and allow them to help 

[T]ake Care 

  • Take time for self-care basics such as getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, hydrating, and taking care of your body 

  • Allow time to do special things for yourself that you enjoy 

[H]ave a Routine 

  • Establish familiar patterns within the unfamiliar situation 

  • Create a daily schedule that incorporates time for self-care 

  • Create a balance between working and enjoying relaxing activities

[O]bserve Mindfulness  

  • Set aside a few moments each day for quiet time and reflection

  • Participate in a guided meditation, or listen to a mindfulness podcast 

  • Download a mindfulness or meditation app  

[M]ove Your Body 

  • Find ways to be active  

  • Participate in a virtual fitness class 

  • Try jumping jacks, squats, planks, crunches, or other movements that require body weight only 

[E]xplore Your Creativity  

  • Express yourself through your favorite creative pursuit  

  • Start a journal 

  • Develop a blog/website 

  • Spend time coloring, drawing, writing, or playing music 

Testing During and After Quarantine and Isolation

Does a negative test mean I can leave quarantine sooner?

Students and employees who believe they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or who have been identified as close contacts through contact tracing must quarantine for a minimum of seven to 10 days. In line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health quarantine guidance, individuals have the option to end their quarantine after 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, or after seven days with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine and if they have no symptoms. Students should call Contact Tracing and Student Support Services at 814-863-8800 if they develop symptoms while in quarantine.

Students who meet the criteria to end quarantine early must continue to monitor themselves for virus symptoms for the full 14 days after their last exposure, while also following all masking and physical distancing protocols, and should immediately self-isolate and contact a health care provider if they show symptoms. At University Park, students who are symptomatic can schedule an appointment with University Health Services by using myUHS online. Students at other Penn State locations should contact their campus’ health care services.

I am in isolation and have received a negative test results. Now what?

If you are also a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, you will be moved to quarantine. It may take some time for the test results to work their way through the process.

If you are in isolation in an on-campus space, we are not able to respond to test results between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. You may need to stay in your isolation space for the evening and arrangements will be made in the morning.

I've tested positive for COVID-19. Should I retest after completing quarantine/isolation?

No. Data to date shows that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if the person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within 3 months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19.

Following quarantine/isolation, continue to monitor your health and track your symptoms. If you develop new symptoms, contact University Health Services, your campus health center, or your primary care provider.  

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Quarantine and Isolation Resources