On this page:
- What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
- Mandatory isolation guidelines
- Communicating with professors and keeping up with coursework
- What to do if your symptoms are severe
- Guidance for roommates of COVID-positive individuals
What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19 – as a result of either an antigen or PCR test – you must report your results through the Daily Check. Log in and select the “Self-Reported Positive” heading. Reporting positive test results helps Cornell track the prevalence of the virus on campus, and enables students to receive academic support and accommodations.
You must also follow the mandatory isolation guidelines below to help prevent exposing others to COVID.
Mandatory isolation guidelines
You are expected to self-isolate in your room / apartment for at least 5 days, and then wear a mask when with others, following the guidelines below.
Length of isolation:
- Isolate for 5 full days following the day your symptoms began, or the day you were tested if you had no symptoms (“Day 0”). Learn more about when your 5 days starts.
- On Day 6, if you are asymptomatic or your symptoms are improving, isolation ends.
- If your symptoms are not improving, continue to isolate and call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155.
- People who are immunocompromised and those who are unable to wear a mask for 5 days after isolation should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 5.
- After isolation, continue to wear a high-quality mask around others for an additional 5 days.
- You can discontinue wearing a mask early if you have two negative COVID tests taken at least 48 hours apart.
- If you test positive, you should continue to test every 48 hours until you have two sequential negative tests. This may mean you need to continue wearing a mask and testing for more than 5 days.
- Avoid exposing roommates: Wear a high-quality mask around others at all times (except when sleeping), and practice physical distancing whenever possible. If able, keep windows open to facilitate air circulation. Clean shared areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, immediately after use and before the next person enters.(See guidance for roommates of COVID-positive individuals below.)
- Notify contacts: Notify close contacts that they may have been exposed, and should monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested.
- Inform your professors: See Communicating with professors and keeping up with coursework, below.
- Pick up meals or have food delivered: Students with a Cornell Dining meal plan can briefly leave isolation to pick up food to go at any Cornell Dining eatery. Please wear a well-fitting mask and return to your room or apartment to eat. If you are feeling particularly ill, you can use the Sick Tray option. Students who do not have a meal plan should get meals delivered: there are numerous local delivery options including Ithaca To Go and Wegmans Instacart.
- Monitor your symptoms: Most COVID symptoms can be self-managed using non-prescription cough/cold/fever medication. If your symptoms are severe or worrying, call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155 (24/7). (Severe symptoms include fever >102F, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe headache, severe sore throat, vomiting.)
Communicating with professors & keeping up with coursework
When you self-report your positive test result through the Daily Check, you will receive an email from Student Disability Services that includes a five-day temporary academic accommodation notice. Follow the instructions in the letter for forwarding the notice to instructors and college student services office to let them know you will not be able to participate in in-person learning while in isolation. (Cornell Law students should forward the message only to the Law School Dean of Students, email@example.com.)
Follow up directly with your instructors to discuss the accommodations that can be made to support their ability to meet course learning outcomes. In turn, instructors will determine which temporary accommodations are most appropriate for their course. It is important that students communicate with their instructors to finalize arrangements (Cornell Law students should coordinate directly with the Law School Dean of Students and not engage directly with their faculty about accommodations.)
Please note that faculty are not required to provide remote access to students who cannot attend class. For the majority of our classrooms, remote access is not an option because classrooms are not Zoom-enabled. Instead, faculty may, for example, choose to use lapel mic recorders to capture audio recordings to accompany other course materials. Faculty want you to remain engaged and have access to course materials, and they will determine the most appropriate and feasible way to help you stay on track based on the nature of the course. Also, it’s always beneficial for students to stay in regular contact with their faculty, TAs, and their college student services office during their isolation period so that they can get the support they need.
If you need to stay in isolation beyond five days because you still have a fever or your symptoms have not yet improved, email Cornell Campus Public Health Support (CCPHS@cornell.edu) and put EXTEND ISOLATION in the subject line. CCPHS will contact you as soon as possible to initiate an isolation extension letter.
What to do if your symptoms are severe
If your symptoms are severe or worrying, call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155 (24/7). Severe symptoms include fever >102F, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe headache, severe sore throat, vomiting. In an emergency, call 911.
If you need assistance or have concerns related to isolation, housing, or meals, please contact the Cornell Campus Public Health Support Team.
Guidance for roommates
If your roommate tests positive, take the following precautions during the COVID-positive individual's isolation period (typically 5 full days following symptom onset or test date) to mitigate your risk of exposure:
- Wear a high-quality mask around the COVID-positive individual at all times, except when sleeping.
- Limit time at home / in your room: consider studying in the library, community center, or residential lounge, and gathering with friends outside of residential rooms.
- Take extra precautions, such as washing your hands often and cleaning shared, high-touch surfaces. If able, keep windows open to facilitate air circulation.
- Get tested, even if you don't have symptoms, and self-monitor for the possible development of symptoms (you can develop COVID up to 10 days after you have been exposed).
Students in university housing who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (as defined by the CDC) and have a COVID-positive roommate should contact Student Disability Services to discuss a temporary housing accommodation.
If you need support
Contact or submit a ticket to the Cornell Campus Public Health Support Team for support related to the Daily Check, excuse letters for professors, isolation, housing, or meals.
Refer to these resources for more support options.