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Isolation, Quarantine & Contact Tracing

What Happens If You Test Positive

If you receive a positive test result, isolate and submit the Self-Reporting Form immediately. Other details differ, depending on whether you tested through AU or off-campus, or live on-campus or off-campus. Here's what to know:

If you tested positive through AU

You'll learn your positive result on your phone (Shield T3 app). You'll also receive a message in your AU inbox from covidnotification@american.edu with information on next steps.

  • Self-isolate immediately. 
  • Fill out and submit the Self-Reporting Form. Even though you tested at AU, which notifies the university of your positive status, you need to report your symptom onset and AU close contacts for contact tracing purposes. The Self-Reporting Form is located on the AU Forward Portal (and linked from the bar at top of this page.)
  • Residential students, you will be contacted by a Case Coordinator about Isolation Housing.

If you tested positive off-campus

  • Self-isolate immediately.
  • Use the Self-Reporting Form to report your positive results and contact tracing information to AU. 
  • Monitor your AU email; you will be contacted shortly with next steps. Messages come from covidnotification@american.edu.

Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate for the required period and must not come to work or classes. Isolation keeps someone who tested positive for COVID-19, with or without symptoms, away from others. 

Day Zero is the date the positive test was administered. If you were asymptomatic on the day you took the positive test, but develop symptoms after your positive test, the clock restarts to Day Zero of your symptom onset.

Residential Students: Isolation Housing

Note: During Summer 2022, on-campus isolation housing will be provided for summer on-campus residential students who test positive.

All Others (Off-Campus Students, Faculty, and Staff): Self-Isolation

You must self-isolate at home for the required period of time. Follow instructions in the email from AU's Affiliate Notification Team (covidnotification@american.edu.)

Students, your faculty will be informed that your absence is approved, and will be flexible with assignments during this time.

Faculty and staff, Employee Relations may consult with you regarding available leave; coordinate with your supervisor, Dean, or department chair; and facilitate your return to work.

DC Government Dept. of Health has extensive information in Guidance for Isolation: People who Test Positive for COVID-19 and Their Household Members (Jan. 31, 2022).

Contact Tracing

Steps in the Process

As soon as AU is aware that you have a positive Covid test, the following steps will be followed to trace contacts so they can test or quarantine if needed:

  • You will receive an email through your AU email account from AU's Affilliate Notification Team (covidnotification@american.edu). The email will contain information, resources, and the link to the Self-Reporting form so that your close contacts can be notified.
  • A case coordinator will review your self-report close contacts. They will contact you if they have any questions. 
  • Notification to AU-affiliated contacts. A case coordinator will email any close contacts identified during the tracing phase and provide them with guidance. Your close contacts will be notified of the date of potential exposure, but identifying information about you will not be shared.
  • You will hear from DC Health. AU's Affilliate Notification Team coordinates with DC Health. Select information gathered by your case coordinator will be shared with DC Health to assist their contact tracing efforts. You should expect DC Health to contact to identify additional contacts and to provide guidance on when you may end isolation.

Questions? If you have questions regarding the Affiliate Notification Team, please email CovidNotification@american.edu, or reach out to the team at 202-885-7950.

Close Contacts

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset (or for asymptomatic infected people, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the infected person is isolated. 

In the indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were 3–6 feet away from an infected fellow student where both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks AND other layered prevention strategies were in place (such as universal mask wearing regardless of vaccination status).

If you are identified as a close contact, you will receive an email from AU's Affilliate Notification Team, covidnotification@american.edu, to let you know when to test, whether you need to quarantine, and provide other information. 

If you believe you are a close contact or feel you meet the threshold of a close contact but were not notified by AU, take a Covid-19 test 5-7 days after your suspected exposure date.

Those who do not meet the threshold of a close contact will not be notified. 

Who Needs to Quarantine?

All close contacts will need to test, but not all will need to quarantine.

Quarantine is used in specific circumstances to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and may develop illness away from other people.

It is different from isolation, which separates people who have tested positive for COVID-19 from people who are not sick to minimize the spread of the virus. (A person in quarantine is not known to be sick; they quarantine because of the risk of spreading the virus before they know they have it.)

Vaccinated close contacts: No quarantine

  • You will not need to quarantine. 
  • Test during the designated time after exposure. The email will give you specific dates (based on likely exposure).
  • Asymptomatic close contacts who are fully vaccinated are expected to continue going to class, as long as you feel healthy.
  • Follow all other instructions, including self-monitoring for symptoms.

Unvaccinated close contacts: Quarantine

  • If you are unvaccinated, you must quarantine for the designated time and take Covid tests on the dates you're given. You will be contacted with detailed information.
  • Do not go to class or work. Inform your faculty, the Dean of Students office (if you are a student), or supervisors as needed.
  • Residential students must stay in your room as much as possible, except to pick up food, use community restrooms, and test.

Contact Information

More questions? For specific issues not addressed on this page, please email: covidhealth@american.edu