COVID-19 Isolation Guidance

Updated May 10, 2023

Please help limit the spread of COVID-19 by following the guidance in the UW’s COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart, which is described below.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel (including trainees/students) follow UW Medicine protocols. School of Dentistry students and personnel follow School of Dentistry protocols (log-in required).

If you develop any symptoms

  • Stay home and away from others, regardless of your vaccination status. You should only leave home to receive testing or medical care.
  • Get tested immediately and remain at home until you receive your test result. Free testing options are available on UW campuses.
    • Negative Result
      • If you use an at-home rapid antigen test, continue to stay home and test again in 48 hours (or get a PCR test to confirm your results). Take at least two home tests. 
      • If you continue to test negative with a rapid antigen test or test negative via PCR, the public health recommendation is that you remain at home until your symptoms have improved and that you may return to campus after you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication.
      • Individuals with risk factors for flu complications should contact their healthcare provider right away to ask about influenza testing and treatment. Flu treatment is most effective if taken within the first two days of illness. High-risk groups include pregnant individuals, adults with a chronic medical condition such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. 
    • Positive Result
      • Follow guidelines below.
  • Wear a well-fitting, surgical mask or KF94/KN95/N95 respirator while waiting for your test results and while you have symptoms. Masking is recommended when indoors and around others on campus.

If you test positive

  • Stay home and away from others, regardless of vaccination status, for at least 5 days, counting from when symptoms started or from when you tested positive (if you have no symptoms). You should only leave home to receive medical care.
  • Follow the current CDC Isolation Guidance
  • Report your positive test result. The UW COVID Response and Prevention team will provide you with further instructions via email. If you already received the reporting form via email, you do not need to report again. 
  • If you live in a University residence hall, housing personnel will reach out to you as soon as possible with information about on-campus isolation arrangements. While you are awaiting that information, continue following the CDC Isolation Guidance as much as possible.
  • If you are at higher risk of becoming very sick, talk to your healthcare provider right away about treatment options. Some treatments need to be started early to work best. 
  • Complete the End of Isolation Survey emailed to you from the COVID-19 Response & Prevention team before ending isolation. 
  • Refer to the Guidance for Ending Isolation section below to help you determine when it is safe to return to work and/or class. 

If you had close contact with an individual who tested positive

Quarantine after an exposure is no longer required. If you develop symptoms or test positive, follow isolation instructions.

  • Immediately start wearing a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public, and continue masking for at least 10 days after the exposure. Day 1 is the first full day after your exposure
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested immediately. Testing options are available on UW campuses. Stay home until you know the results. 
  • If you do not develop symptoms, get tested 5 days after your close contact exposure. If you have tested positive in the past 90 days, testing is not recommended unless you develop symptoms. 
    • If the result is negative, you do not need to isolate or quarantine. Continue wearing your mask for a full 10 days.
    • If your result is positive, refer to the guidance above.
  • Notify if your exposure was potentially related to workplace or campus activities and you have not already been contacted by the University.

Guidance for ending isolation after having COVID-19

Regardless of current test results, isolation may end when all of the following are true

  • At least 5 days have passed since you developed symptoms or tested positive (if no symptoms); and 
  • You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication; and 
  • Your symptoms have improved (if you had symptoms).

Day 0 is the first day you experienced symptoms or tested positive. People with certain medical conditions might need to stay home longer than 5 days. Email if you are advised to isolate longer than 5 days. Loss of smell and taste can take longer to resolve than other symptoms and does not indicate that isolation is still needed. 

  • If you continue to have a fever, or other symptoms have not improved after your initial isolation period, continue isolating until meeting the criteria listed above. If your COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart your isolation at day 0.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation. Individuals with weakened immune systems and those who have moderate or severe illness should talk with their healthcare provider before ending isolation.
  • Email if you have questions or need updated notifications sent to your supervisor and/or instructors. 
  • Students in University residence halls should await direction from housing personnel before exiting their isolation space. 

Wear a well-fitting surgical mask or KF94/KN95/N95 respirator when around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (through day 10). If you choose to re-test at the end of day 5 (voluntarily), and for conditions for removing your mask prior to day 10, follow CDC guidance.

After your required masking period ends, follow the UW Face Covering Policy while on campus and at UW events. Follow CDC guidelines on removing your mask after ending isolation.  


    Contact the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at or 206.616.3344.

    UW medical center personnel may contact their employee health services.