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What happens if a student tests positive for Covid?

American University has a robust protocol for contact tracing and notification, which is a key tool in controlling the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our community safe and healthy. Here's what happens when a student tests positive for Covid-19. (If you're faculty or staff, scroll down for more information.)

If You Test Positive

  • If you tested through AU, you'll hear on your phone (Shield T3 app) as soon as lab has results. The lab informs you and AU at the same time. Self-isolate immediately.
  • AU's Covid team will call you with instructions. (If results come in the night, AU calls first thing in the morning.)
  • You'll be taken to Isolation Housing for a minimum of 10 days. If you live off campus, self-isolate immediately in your residence.
  • You may not attend class until your isolation period is over. Your faculty will be informed that your absence is approved, and will be flexible with assignments during this time. Faculty will be informed that your absence is excused. They'll be flexible.

If you did not test through AU: 

  • If the test was not through the Student Health Center, use the Self-Report form to inform AU.

  • All other conditions apply.


If Your Roommate Tests Positive

  • If you hear before you're contacted by AU, please stay calm, stay masked, and be supportive while your roommate waits to move to isolation housing.
  • You'll hear shortly from AU's Covid Tracing and Affiliate Notification team with further instructions. You are considered a Close Contact. 
  • Instructions will be based on the situation.

Close Contacts

A Close Contact is someone who is a roommate or has closely interacted with a person who tests positive. It's defined by the CDC as having been within six feet for a total of 15+ minutes in a 24-hour period. So that could also mean, for instance, being within six feet three times during the course of one day, for five minutes each time. 

AU's Contact Tracing Team will contact you, let you know when to test, and provide other instructions.

If you ARE fully vaccinated:

  • You do NOT need to quarantine. 
  • Test during the designated time after exposure. The email will give you specific dates (based on likely exposure).
  • Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts are expected to continue going to class, as long as you feel healthy.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If any new symptoms come up, self-isolate and get a test.

If you are NOT fully vaccinated:

  • You must quarantine in your room for the designated time and take Covid tests on the dates you're given. You will receive a phone call with detailed information.
    • Stay in your room as much as possible, except to pick up food and use community bathrooms. (Always mask and distance, as usual!)
    • Do not go to class. Your faculty will be informed by the Dean of Students office, so don't worry - your absence is excused. Professors will be flexible!
  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If any new symptoms come up, self-isolate and get a test.

Proximity Contacts

Proximity Contacts are people who spent some time in the vicinity of a Covid-positive individual and may warrant testing, but are not a Close Contact. For instance, you might be in the same class as someone who tested positive. Circumstances differ based on many factors.

  • Check your AU email! If you should test, that's how you'll find out.
  • Take a PCR test during the time frame you've given in the email.

Isolation Housing

Residential students who test positive for Covid-19 will be transported to AU's off-campus Isolation Housing for a minimum of 10 days.

  • You'll be picked up at a pre-set time (within a few hours of notification).
  • Please bring clothes, medicine, academic materials, your laptop, comfort items, entertainment, and anything else you need for the designated days of isolation. 
  • Your space will have a private bathroom, mini-fridge, food delivery to your door, water, and other amenities. 
  • You will have basic medical supplies provided for self-monitoring (such as pulse oximeter and thermometer), and will also be monitored by the Student Health Center and AU's Covid Team.
  • Isolation Housing has on-site staff.
  • Mail and packages sent to campus can be forwarded to you in isolation upon request.

  • The minimum isolation can be extended at medical discretion. Isolation must continue until you are no longer infectious, so please prepare with that in mind!

What happens if faculty or staff test positive for Covid?

Faculty and staff who test positive for Covid must self-isolate. If you're a student who may have been exposed by a faculty or staff member, you'll be notified by AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team and provided with instructions, as warranted. It will not identify if the exposure came from a faculty member, staff member, or student.

If You Are a Faculty or Staff Member

If you test positive through AU: You'll get the notification on your Shield T-3 app as soon as the lab has the results. AU is automatically notified as well.

If you tested positive outside AU: Use the Self-Report Form to report your results to AU.

Here's what happens next:

  • You must self-isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days.
  • AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team will reach out and ask you about close and proximate contacts who may have interacted with you while you may have been contagious.
  • Your contacts will be notified with directions on testing and next steps. Your name will not be shared.
  • Employee Relations will consult with faculty and staff regarding available leave; coordinate with your supervisor, Dean, or department chair; and facilitate your return to work.
  • AU community members who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to comply with the Affiliate Notification Program and cooperate with contact tracing efforts. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

If you are a Close Contact or Proximity Contact:

  • Faculty and Staff who are Close or Proximity Contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid, and are known to AU, are notified and provided with instructions by AU's Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification team.