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Common Questions about Positive COVID-19 Tests

These questions supplement What You Need to Know: Testing, where you can find more information.

Questions will be added and updated throughout the fall. If you can't find the answer to your question, please submit a question or email returntocampus@mail.wvu.edu.

Can I quarantine in my residence hall room?

Yes, if you're asked to quarantine because you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, follow these steps to quarantine in your residence hall.

How will the instructor know if a student tests positive?

It is the student's responsibility to let instructors know they will not be attending class and work with their instructors to develop alternative plans to allow the student to progress in the class until the student can physically return.

If the student has any in-person classes as part of their course schedule, the Office of the Provost will send a notification letter to their instructors informing them there has been a COVID-19 related event (without disclosing whether the student tested positive or is in quarantine).

How will we know how COVID-19 is affecting the University community as the semester progresses?

Our public health partners will work with our Public Health Task Force in identifying the number of positive cases and potential spread of the virus in the community. That information will inform the actions the University must take to keep campus safe.

You can follow WVU's testing results, self-reported positive cases and quarantine and isolation information at COVID-19 testing dashboard. You should remain alert to campus communication with critical information about COVID-19.

I was in close contact with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19. We weren't wearing masks and were within 3 feet of each other for over 15 minutes. What should I do?

You must quarantine if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have had direct contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Until a formal case investigation and contact tracing can be completed, all those who are known or suspected to have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 should undergo a 14-day quarantine/self-monitoring period.

In these situations, close contact includes:

  • Having been within 6 feet of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for a period of at least 15 minutes in any environment, regardless of the use of face coverings or masks; or,
  • Living in the same household as a person with COVID-19
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)

All WVU community members are required to report if they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining due to suspected or known exposure to COVID-19. Students should notify the WVU CARE Team, and employees should notify WVU Medical Management.

I've already had COVID-19 and recovered. Am I now immune to the virus? What if I still test positive or exhibit new symptoms?

At this time, we do not know if someone can be re-infected with COVID-19. Data to date show that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if you have recovered from COVID-19 and are retested within 3 months of initial infection, you may continue to have a positive test result, even though you may not be spreading COVID-19.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

Until we know more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people, whether or not they have had COVID-19, continue to take safety measures to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 such as wearing a mask, washing hands regularly and staying at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, will WVU help move them to Arnold Apartments and then help move the student back to their residence after they test negative?

Yes. WVU will provide moving supplies and transportation to assist all students moving in and out of Arnold Apartments. Students also will be provided with meals, snacks and easy access to healthcare providers during their stay in the apartments. For more about what to expect, see What to Do If: You Test Positive and Live in a Residence Hall.

If I have to be in isolation in Arnold Apartments, what will it be like?

If you live in a Morgantown campus residence hall and test positive, you will be moved to isolation in Arnold Apartments. The rooms in Arnold Apartments are doubles and can house up to two students. The rooms are not equipped with kitchenettes, but they do have micro-fridges. You will be in an efficiency apartment with a bathroom, and you will likely have a roommate assigned during your isolation. Meals, snacks, beverages, linens and WiFi hotspot will be provided. For more about what you can expect, see What to Do If: You Test Positive and Live in a Residence Hall.

If one student in a class tests positive, will all students in the class have to quarantine?

Only those who have been within close contact of a person who tests positive will be asked to quarantine. A close contact includes:

  • Having been within 6 feet of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for a period of at least 15 minutes in any environment, regardless of the use of face coverings or masks; or,
  • Living in the same household as a person with COVID-19
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)

Related questions:

What are the expectations for classroom attendance for students who are isolated due to a positive diagnosis of COVID-19? What guidelines should faculty use for accommodations and leniency?

WVU has amended its attendance policy for University sanctioned absences to reflect the impact of COVID-19 and has instituted a new emergency leave policy that provides guidance if a student should be unable to participate in class for more than a week.

Faculty also should review the COVID-19 Instructor Expectations and Best Practices as they plan their courses and prepare syllabi.

What are the University's overall COVID-19 test results?

We're providing updated WVU System test results every weekday.

What happens if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19?

Students, faculty and staff with a positive test result will be notified by the local health department.

Morgantown students, faculty and staff with a positive test result will also be notified by the Student Health Services clinic. Students can refer to our What to Do If ... pages for more about what to expect. Representatives from the local health department will conduct a case investigation for all positive cases and initiate contact tracing.

The University will assist with contact tracing and also work with local health departments to determine if there is a need to decontaminate a specific facility or implement any additional mitigation measures.

Testing information regarding patients is regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines and will be kept confidential.

What happens when a student tests positive?

We’ve developed a number of guides for students that provide instructions on what to do if you or a roommate tests positive. View these common scenarios.

What if I test positive and isolation isn’t possible (sharing a residence hall room or small apartment where isolation isn’t possible)?

WVU has established newly renovated space in Arnold Apartments for residence hall students to self-isolate. See What to do if: You test positive and live in a residence hall for more. In the event that moving to another location is not possible, arrangements may be made for your roommate(s) to move temporarily or support will be provided for you to self-isolate in your own space as safely as possible.

What is the current rate of hospitalization for students?

Hospitalization rates of our students who have tested positive are low at this time; however, there have been numerous research studies that show there are potential long-term effects — particularly to the heart — for those that have COVID-19. It's also important to note that we are seeing more symptomatic students and some have been evaluated in the emergency room and do have more severe symptoms. It's important, for the safety of our students and community now and in the future, that we take measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 to others. The University continues to have a firm commitment to prevent hospitalizations. We must consider that some of our campus community, including students, may be at higher risk due to pre-existing conditions, as well.

What should employees expect after testing positive for COVID-19?

Employees will be contacted by their local health department and will be instructed to isolate. They will be encouraged to contact their primary care provider for additional care information.

What should students do if faculty require physical attendance as part of the grade?

In some classes, such as labs and clinicals, physical attendance is necessary to achieve the course learning goals. However, if the student qualifies for a University-approved absence, like isolation or quarantine, the instructor cannot lower the student’s grade and must provide alternate means to meet the course learning outcomes. Please review the University attendance policy.

What should students expect after testing positive for COVID-19?

WVU Student Health and Student Life will work with the student to ensure they follow proper isolation protocols. Students living in residence halls who test positive will be moved to newly renovated Arnold Apartments for isolation. Check these step-by-step guides for detailed information about what to do if:

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

The University uses the terms “isolation” and “quarantine” for those who have COVID-19 related matters.

Isolation is avoiding contact with others for at least 10 days after your testing date, as directed by the local health department. You are likely in isolation because you've tested positive for COVID-19, and this isolation period will separate you from others who may not be sick to help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you live in a residence hall, you will move to Arnold Apartments. If living off campus, you stay away from others by using a separate living space. You should not leave this isolation space at all during the 10-day period. You are not allowed on campus for class or work at any point during this period, and you must remain in isolation until you are medically cleared.

Quarantine is avoiding contact with others to the furthest extent possible for the next 14 days, as directed by the local health department. You are likely in quarantine because you’ve been considered a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and this quarantine period separates and restricts the movement of those exposed to COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus. If you live in a residence hall, you will quarantine in your room and may only leave it to use the restroom throughout this time; meals will be provided. If you live off campus, you should stay away from others by using a separate living space. You should not be on campus for class or work at any point during this period. If you begin to feel ill and develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should call your primary care physician or WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200.

Related questions:

Why do I have to quarantine but my roommate does not?

You have been asked to quarantine because you’ve been considered a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This is a precautionary measure to keep you and others who were exposed to COVID-19 as safe as possible. Your roommate may not have had close contact with someone who tested positive, so they do not need to quarantine. At this point, the risk of your roommate contracting COVID-19 is low as long as everyone is following the COVID-19 safety protocols. If you test positive when retested, your roommate would have to quarantine at that point. Also, if you or your roommate feel ill and develop symptoms of COVID-19, your roommate should quarantine and call WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200.

Why doesn't WVU give students the end date for quarantine?

Your quarantine or isolation release date will be provided during a phone call with a WVU Shared Services care agent.

Add WVU Shared Services — 304-293-1003 and 304-293-6006 — to your phone contacts. Care agents will contact you to discuss quarantine protocols, symptoms and testing, which can determine your quarantine release date. It's important to answer or promptly return calls from WVU Shared Services.

Why is a quarantine period longer than an isolation period?

WVU is following the CDC guidelines and timelines for isolation and quarantine. It can take a person anywhere from 2-14 days to experience symptoms or develop the infection, so a person must quarantine for 14 days. It has been found that a positive person is no longer contagious beyond the 10-day period, likely because they had it a few days prior to being symptomatic, so they must only isolate for 10 days.

Will employees be required to use their accrued sick leave if they test positive for COVID-19 or are told to quarantine due to possible exposure?

Unless the employee is ill to the extent that they are unable to perform any remote work duties, most employees should be provided with an alternative remote work assignment while waiting for symptoms to subside or to get a negative test result. If you are ill due to COVID-19 and unable to perform work, you should work with your supervisor to apply for special emergency leave.

Will instructors be notified if a student is isolating or quarantining?

It is the student's responsibility to let instructors know they will not be attending class and work with them to make arrangements to keep up with classwork. If the student has any in-person classes as part of their course schedule, the Office of the Provost will send a notification letter to their instructors informing them there has been a COVID-19 related event.

Will staff supervisors be notified if their employee is isolating or quarantining?

Supervisors will be notified if one of their employees tests positive. Further, employees who may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be notified through the contact tracing process.