Quarantine & Isolation FAQs

Cornell's COVID-19 website

  • Refer to Cornell’s COVID-19 website as the main source for campus-wide updates and information. 
  • Contact the university's COVID-19 Support Center for questions related to the Daily Check, surveillance & supplemental testing, and university policies.  

Cornell Health works with the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) and other Cornell departments and staff members to provide guidance and care for students in quarantine and isolation.

What is quarantine?

The purpose of quarantine is to separate a healthy person from others while they are monitored for the possible development of COVID-19. 

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID, or have been identified as a "close contact" of someone who has tested positive ...

  • Fully vaccinated and boosted students (and those not yet eligible for a booster) do NOT need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Students should wear a mask around others for 10 days after the last day of exposure, and get a COVID test on day 5.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students should quarantine at home for 5 days from last exposure, get a COVID test on day 5, and wear a well-fitting mask for 5 additional days.

See quarantine guidance from the TCHD

What is isolation?

The purpose of isolation is to separate a person with COVID-19 from others to contain the spread of the virus.

All students who test positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status or whether you experience symptoms. The length of time is determined by the TCHD, and is typically 5-10 days from the onset of symptoms or test date. 

See isolation guidance from the TCHD

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive at Cornell, or at any Cayuga Health / Cayuga Medical Center site, your positive test will automatically be uploaded to your Daily Check status.

If you test positive at another testing site, or with an at-home antigen test, you should self-report your COVID test through the Daily Check. You will receive a response with isolation instructions. Your positive test result also helps Cornell monitor rates of transmission on campus, and may exempt you from surveillance testing.

All students who test positive for COVID-19 are required self-isolate following the isolation guidance from the TCHD, regardless of vaccination status or whether you experience symptoms. You should also notify close contacts that they may have been exposed, should monitor themselves for symptoms, and follow the quarantine guidance above.

What do I do if I have symptoms – or have been exposed – to COVID-19?

Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 can call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155 (24/7). A medical provider will help assess your symptoms and advise you on next steps, which may include diagnostic COVID-19 testing at Cornell Health.

If you believe you were exposed to COVID, follow the quarantine guidance above while you self-monitor for symptoms.

Where do students quarantine or isolate?

Most students will be expected to quarantine or self-isolate in their residence, following the quarantine guidance from the TCHD and the isolation guidance from the TCHD.

Students who are not able to safely quarantine / isolate in their residence may be provided with quarantine / isolation housing and meals, typically in a nearby hotel. 

If you have questions, please contact the Cornell COVID Concierge Team (607-254-5600 or quarantinehelp@cornell.edu).

How do I monitor my health while in quarantine / isolation?

It is important to take your temperature daily and closely monitor your health.

  • COVID-positive students in isolation who develop concerning symptoms should call Cornell Health 24/7 at 607-255-5155
  • Students in quarantine who develop symptoms consistent with COVID can call Cornell Health to consult with a nurse and discuss the need for diagnostic testing: 607-255-5155

How do I let my professors know I'm in quarantine / isolation and can’t go to classes?

Student Disability Services can send notification to your instructors regarding your need to have academic flexibility if you are ill and/or in quarantine or isolation. Visit their COVID-Related Accommodation Requests page for details.

How do I take care of my mental health while in quarantine / isolation?