On this page:
- What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
- Mandatory isolation guidelines
- Communicating with professors and keeping up with coursework
- Caring for symptoms
- What to do if your symptoms are severe
- What to do if you need to extend your isolation period
- Guidance for roommates of COVID-positive individuals
When you report your result, you will receive 5-day isolation instructions and academic accommodations. Reporting your test result also helps Cornell track the prevalence of the virus on campus.
The isolation guidelines you receive are also detailed below. Isolation after after a positive test result is mandatory to help prevent exposing others to COVID.
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”). Use the CDC's Isolation & Exposure Calculator to figure out when your 5 days start.
- 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.)
When you self-report your positive test result, you will receive an email from Student Disability Services (SDS) that includes a five-day temporary academic accommodation letter. (If you need to stay in isolation beyond five days, see what to do if you need to extend your isolation period.)
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.
Most COVID symptoms can be self-managed using non-prescription cough, cold, and/or fever medication. Be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to assist in your recovery.
For students with specific chronic health conditions, medical treatments are available that may reduce the likelihood of significant complications related to COVID-19 infection. If you have health concerns or questions about possible treatment, please call Cornell Health during business hours (607-255-5155) to consult with a medical provider.
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 to stay in isolation beyond five days because you still have a fever or your symptoms have not yet improved, please call Cornell Health during business hours (607-255-5155) and ask to have your isolation period extended. You will receive a second academic accommodation letter from SDS that you can provide to instructors.
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
Please refer to these resources for support options.