Information Center

Isolation and Quarantine Protocol

Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2022 at 10:16 am

This protocol provides general information regarding isolation and quarantine. Any directives provided by the Health and Wellness Center and relocation teams supersede what appears here.


For Positive COVID-19 Cases 

Isolation is the separation of someone who is ill and is awaiting a test result or has tested positive for COVID-19 from people who are not sick.  One can test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can test positive, which is why it is important that individuals who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms get tested, regardless of vaccination status. 

We have updated our isolation and quarantine protocol to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s updated guidance that provides for shortened isolation periods in some cases. 

Please be aware of the shift in our isolation and quarantine protocols for the Spring 2022 semester



For Exposure to COVID-19, Close Contacts

Quarantine is the separation of someone exposed to a COVID-19-positive individual from others to monitor the exposed person for signs of illness. We have updated our isolation and quarantine protocol to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s updated guidanceLehigh students, faculty and staff should follow the guidance provided by the Health and Wellness Center (for students) and Lehigh’s occupational health nurse from LVHN (for faculty and staff).

Fully vaccinated and boosted students who come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID are not required to quarantine. Please be aware of the shift in our isolation and quarantine protocols for the Spring 2022 semester

Additional Resources

Go Kit

It is recommended that all students assemble a “Go Kit” to have available should you need it.  

Supplies you may want to include in your Go Kit:

  • Academic Materials: All class materials, including academic books, notebooks, laptop and other necessary supplies.
  • Personal Medications: Prescribed medications you need for at least 10 days (the duration of the infective period).
  • Hygiene Supplies: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.
  • Technology Supplies: Phone charger, laptop charger and a back-up battery.
  • Comfort Food: Consider packing your favorite comfort snacks and drinks as well as a reusable water bottle. The university will be providing bagged/pre-prepared meals for you throughout your stay, but you may wish to bring along your own favorite snacks.
  • Self-Care Items to support your well-being: Art supplies, puzzles, crafts, playing cards, books
  • Blanket

CDC Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions marked with a bell emoji have been added recently.

No. Once the isolation period has been completed and an individual is cleared to return to work or school, evidence of a negative test is not required. When in doubt about when you are able to end isolation, always follow the guidance provided by the HWC (for students) or Lehigh’s LVHN occupational health nurse (for faculty and staff). For surveillance testing (a PCR test), you will not be tested again for 90 days from the date symptoms started or the date of the positive test.

Students may need to provide a copy of messages they are sent from the Health and Wellness Center, which includes confirmation of their isolation/quarantine start and end dates, to their faculty and instructors. Some instructors may require this information to excuse a student from class.

Over the last two years, we have gained a better understanding of COVID and its impact on our community. Vaccines, as well as new testing and treatment options, also have allowed us to adjust our response to the disease. COVID cases among students on our campus have typically been mild. Vaccination and boosters continue to reduce the severity of COVID, especially for those without other risk factors.  

As we begin this semester, we are preparing for the likelihood that because of the highly contagious Omicron variant, and given our extensive testing of students as they arrive on campus, record numbers of students will test positive. Many campuses across the country are seeing 10-12% positivity rates for returning students. At Lehigh, this would translate to more than 700 positive cases, including more than 250 cases among students in the residence halls. Fortunately, we anticipate that in the vast majority of these cases, fully vaccinated and boosted students will experience mild to moderate symptoms. With this context, our focus this semester will shift towards mitigation efforts that are focused on protecting the most vulnerable from serious illness.  

Therefore, as the semester starts, we plan to use student isolation housing principally for COVID-positive residential students who have COVID-negative roommates who are immunocompromised or who have other factors that place them at high risk for serious complications because of a COVID infection. In these cases, residential students who have tested positive will be moved to isolation housing (away from their COVID-negative high-risk roommate).

Roommates with the below bulleted medical conditions as outlined by the CDC are considered a circumstance where a positive student should relocate to isolation housing to mitigate the risk of exposing their roommate. Highly symptomatic studentsas determined by Health and Wellness Center professionalsmay be required to isolate away from their residence hall and for longer than five days. 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Mental health conditions
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
  • Substance use disorders
  • Tuberculosis

Students testing positive who require separate isolation housing due to their roommates being at high risk should contact the Relocation Team at to be relocated to isolation housing.

Students will be offered options for meals to include a Zelle reimbursement in exchange for meal swipes. With this option, students may order meals/groceries from food delivery services OR they may have living mates take their ID to the dining hall and pick up a to-go meal to bring back to the residence hall. Further details will be provided in the communication to the students who test positive.

Students isolating in their residence will be required to follow  CDC guidelines and rules that reduce their exposure to their roommates and others. This includes wearing a high-quality and well-fitted mask (such as KN-95 or similar, or a surgical mask covered by a cloth mask). Students in isolation must remain in their room, except to go to the bathroom and for other critical needs such as visiting the Health and Wellness Center (masks should be worn at all times). Students in isolation should not gather in groups either indoors or outdoors. Students are required to wear a mask for an additional five days following their initial five days of isolation. In the initial five days after a positive test students are NOT permitted to attend class, go to the gym, go to the library, go to the dining hall, or be indoors in any campus indoor space except their room or the spaces needed to travel to and from the bathroom in their residence hall.


Students violating these rules will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and subject to cancellation of their housing contract.

After isolating for 5 days, if the student’s symptoms have resolved or are resolving and they do not have a fever, they can end isolation and must wear a mask for an additional 5 days whenever around others. Some symptoms, such as a cough, may linger but are not cause for continued isolation (per CDC guidelines). Students with a positive test result not administered by Lehigh must upload information about their positive test to their Health and Wellness Center patient portal as soon as possible after testing positive. This ensures you receive important communications related to your isolation and that are not selected for additional COVID testing within 90 days.


As in previous semesters, students who are required to isolate or quarantine must not go to class in person. They should inform their professors and instructors of their need to isolate/quarantine and work with them to keep up with their coursework. Faculty and instructors were encouraged by the Provost to provide guidance and flexibility for students who require isolation or quarantine. 


  • If you are vaccinated and boosted and are not exhibiting any COVID symptoms, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five following exposure. Sign up for an appointment here: LU - Schedule Your COVID-19 CLOSE CONTACT Test. If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 (via separate testing) and isolate using the isolation instructions. 
  • COVID-positive and close contact residential unvaccinated students or students eligible for a booster who have not yet received a booster should follow the instructions provided by the Relocation teams and Health and Wellness Center. (During the vaccine exemption approval process, students were notified of the possibility of identifying alternative housing for isolation/quarantine.) If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870; otherwise, sign up for an appointment to get tested on day five following exposure. 

Given that the transmission of Omicron is highly efficient and rapid, we are changing our contact tracing protocols by providing guidance directly to students and instructing them how to notify close contacts as soon as possible. If students have questions about their health and/or development of symptoms, they can reach out to the Health & Wellness Center (HWC) via secure message through the Patient Portal

We acknowledge that with rapid transmission, which we've seen with Omicron, timeliness is important. By sharing with students how they can notify close contacts, this process can occur immediately after students learn they are positive. Roommates of the first identified case will also automatically be notified. The instructions for residential students can be found here



  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Read more from the CDC about how to "Isolate If You Are Sick," including information about how long you should isolate. 
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 

Read Lehigh's isolation and quarantine policy. Lehigh students, faculty and staff should follow the guidance provided by the Health and Wellness Center (for students) and Lehigh’s occupational health nurse from LVHN (for faculty and staff).

Read Lehigh’s updated isolation and quarantine policy for the Spring 2022 semester here.

Refer to our isolation and quarantining protocol for what to expect if you live on or off campus. 

Unfortunately, Lehigh's Health & Wellness Center (HWC) is only able to recognize positive self-reports with proper documentation. Since you do not have proper documentation on file with the HWC, if you test positive, you will be required to follow Lehigh's isolation and testing protocols.

If you have any questions regarding your housing or dining needs during your isolation or quarantine, email or call 610-758-3500.

If you have questions related to specific medical concerns or symptoms, call the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 or contact us through the HWC secure message portal.

For questions about surveillance testing, contact

Visit the isolation and quarantine section of the FAQ for additional answers to questions specific to isolation and quarantining. Consult our COVID-19 Contacts page for contact information not found here.

A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within 2 days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine but at this time may still be referred to be tested. If not fully vaccinated and required to quarantine, demonstrating a negative COVID-19 test does not eliminate the need to quarantine.