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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Quarantine and Isolation

What's the difference?

Quarantine Applies to People Who:

Have been exposed to another individual who has symptoms and/or has tested positive for COVID-19.

People who need to quarantine after an exposure include:
  • People who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated (see definition of fully vaccinated below)
  • People 18 and over who are fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but have not received one yet (see eligibility below).
    • An exposure is defined as being within six feet of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. It is not considered an exposure in a classroom setting if everyone was wearing a mask.

People who have been exposed and need to quarantine should:

  • Stay home for five days after you were exposed — your first day of quarantine is the first full day AFTER your last exposure
  • Wear a mask around others for five more days
  • Get tested on day five after your last exposure and watch yourself for symptoms for a full 10 days
  • If symptoms develop, get tested immediately and follow the isolation guidelines on this page
People who don't need to quarantine after an exposure include:
  • People age 18 and older who are fully vaccinated and received a booster 
  • People age 18 and older who are fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for a booster
  • People under age 18 who are fully vaccinated
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 (with a viral test, not an antibody test) within the past 90 days

People who have been exposed but don't need to quarantine should:

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days after your last exposure
  • Get tested five days after your last exposure
  • If you start to feel symptoms, get tested immediately and follow the isolation guidelines on this page

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after their first dose of a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson).

People are eligible for a booster shot:

  • Five months after their second shot of Pfizer or Moderna
  • Two months after their single shot of Johnson and Johnson

Isolation Includes People Who:

Have a positive COVID-19 test, have symptoms of COVID-19 and/or are getting ill and think they might have COVID-19.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate. 

The length of isolation depends on how you are feeling. Your first day of isolation is the first full day after you started feeling symptoms or tested positive.

People can stop isolating after five full days if:
  • They tested positive, but don't have any symptoms
  • They had mild symptoms, but are starting to feel better and don't have a fever

Those who isolated for five days should continue taking precautions for five more days, including:

  • Wear a mask around others for five more days
  • Avoid eating and drinking around other people
  • Avoid contact with people who are high-risk for getting very sick from COVID-19
  • Avoid travel
For individuals who still have a fever after five days, or if symptoms haven't improved, they should isolate until:
  • They have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without using medications to reduce fever) AND
  • Other symptoms have improved

If you didn't have symptoms when you tested positive, but started to feel symptoms AFTER your test, continue to isolate for at least five full days after your symptoms start. 


* If severe symptoms continue, individuals should continue to stay home and consult with their healthcare provider and the COVID-19 Response Team about the need for additional testing and the appropriate time to return to class, campus or work (documentation from healthcare provider must be provided). 

If you have been placed in quarantine or isolation by UNC's COVID-19 Response Team, remain until you receive notification of release. Students will be notified of their approval to vacate quarantine or isolation via letter to their Bearmail. Employees will receive notification through their UNCO employee account.

It is the responsibility of each individual to inform their supervisor/instructor if they have been placed in quarantine or isolation. Faculty should notify their department chair/school director; staff should notify their supervisors; students should notify all of their instructors.

Quarantine and Isolation Procedures 

The CDC and CDPHE have established quarantine and isolation guidelines to assist in reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). UNC is following CDC and CDPHE guidelines for confirmed positive cases and exposures.  

  • confirmed positive case is when a student or employee receives a positive COVID-19 test result from a rapid antigen test (e.g. over-the-counter Binax test) or a molecular PCR test (I.e. nasal swab test performed at a testing site). 
  • Exposure is defined as being within six feet of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. It is not considered an exposure in a classroom setting if everyone was wearing a mask.