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Isolation, Quarantine & Contact Tracing

If You Test Positive

If you receive a positive test result, isolate and submit the Self-Reporting Form immediately. Monitor your AU email; you will be contacted shortly with next steps. 

Self-Isolation

If your positive test or symptom onset was in the past five days, please self-isolate immediately. Day Zero of isolation is the date the positive test was administered or the day of symptom onset, whichever was later.

Do NOT come work or classes in person or attend any in-person university events or programs during your isolation period. Please stay home, separate yourself from others, monitor your health, and follow any directions provided by your state or local health department and/or healthcare provider. 

Students, work with your faculty members directly to make alternative arrangements as necessary while you are self-isolating or recuperating. If you've submitted your positive results via the AU portal, you'll be provided with a letter from the Office of the Dean of Students to share with your faculty and advisor. You can also contact your academic advisor or the Office of the Dean of Students for additional support as needed. 

Faculty and staff, notify your supervisor that you will not be able to come to campus. You will receive additional information via email from the Office of Human Resources. If you have questions regarding your work arrangements, please contact employeerelations@american.edu.

Release from Isolation

If you are fully vaccinated and boosted (e.g. up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters), you may be released from isolation on Day Six if you meet ALL of three criteria: you test negative with an antigen ("rapid") test on Day Five*, have improving symptoms, AND have been fever-free for at least 24 hours. 

If ending isolation on Day Six, you must wear a mask in public for five additional days (Days Six through 10). If returning to campus at this time, you must submit an updated self-report to notify us of your negative antigen test result.

If your antigen test is positive on Day Five of isolation, you are cleared to leave isolation after Day Ten, provided your symptoms are improving and you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.

If you are NOT fully vaccinated, you must complete 10 full days of isolation.

Remember: Day Zero is the day you test positive. So if you test positive on Monday, take an antigen test (e.g. an at-home "rapid test") on Day Five (Saturday).

Residential Students: Isolate in Room

Any student who lives in AU-operated housing and tests positve must either:

  • self-isolate in their room for the full length of isolation; or, 
  • find alternate accommodations outside of AU Housing spaces (such as at home) during isolation. Students will not be relocated and will not be permitted to move to any other residence hall during the isolation period.

Guide for Students Isolating in Room

Students who live in AU Housing, please see the COVID Guide for Residential Students: What to Know About Isolating in Your Room, which describes isolation protocols, roommate protocols, how dining works, how to get packages, support services, testing out of isolation, and more.

Contact Tracing

Steps in the Process

If you test positive for Covid-19, you must submit a Self-Report form to notify us of your test result and report your university close contacts. As soon as AU is aware that you have a positive Covid test, the following steps will be followed:

  • You will receive an email to your AU email account from AU's Affiliate Notification Team (covidnotification@american.edu). The email will contain information on the isolation process and university resources for navigating health-related absence from the university.
  • A case coordinator will review your self-reported close contacts. They will contact you if they have any questions. 
  • Notification to AU-affiliated contacts. A case coordinator will email any close contacts identified in your self-report form and provide them with guidance. Your close contacts will be notified of the date of potential exposure, but identifying information about you will not be shared.
  • Case information sent to DC Health. AU's Affilliate Notification Team coordinates with DC Health. Select information gathered by your case coordinator may be shared with DC Health to assist their Covid-19 surveillance efforts.

Questions? If you have questions regarding the Affiliate Notification Team or contact tracing process, please email CovidNotification@american.edu, or reach out to the team at 202-885-7950.

Close Contacts

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset (or for asymptomatic infected people, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the infected person is isolated. 

If you are identified as a close contact by someone who tested positive for Covid-19, you will receive an email from AU's Affiliate Notification Team, covidnotification@american.edu, to let you know when to test, whether you need to quarantine, and provide other information. 

If you believe you are a close contact or feel you meet the threshold of a close contact but were not notified by AU, take a Covid-19 test 5 days after your suspected exposure date. 

Who Needs to Quarantine?

All close contacts will need to test, but not all will need to quarantine.

Quarantine is used in specific circumstances to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and may develop illness away from other people.

It is different from isolation, which separates people who have tested positive for COVID-19 from people who are not sick to minimize the spread of the virus. (A person in quarantine is not known to be sick; they quarantine because of the risk of spreading the virus before they know they have it.)

Vaccinated close contacts: No quarantine

  • You will not need to quarantine. 
  • Test during the designated time after exposure. The email will give you specific dates (based on likely exposure).
  • Asymptomatic close contacts who are fully vaccinated are expected to continue going to class, as long as you feel healthy.
  • Follow all other instructions, including self-monitoring for symptoms.

Unvaccinated close contacts: Quarantine

  • If you are unvaccinated, you must quarantine and take Covid tests according to timeframes outlined in the AU Health and Safety Dirctive on Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection. If you have questions related to quarantine, isolation, or close contacts, you can email covidnotification@american.edu.
  • Do not go to class or work. Inform your faculty, the Dean of Students office (if you are a student), or supervisors as needed.
  • Residential students must stay in your room as much as possible, except to pick up food, use community restrooms, and test.

Contact Information

More questions? For specific issues not addressed on this page, please email: covidhealth@american.edu