Protocol for Positive Case(s) on Campus & Contact Tracing

Protocol for Exposures, Symptomatic Individuals & Positive Cases

If you test positive, you must complete the Health Screening form:

Complete the Health Screening


Overview of TC’s Protocol and Procedure

The Teachers College Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Team has been trained by John Hopkins University and maintains compliance with New York City, New York State, and CDC requirements and guidelines.

Steps You Need to Take


If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you must follow these guidelines in order to continue accessing campus:

  • Be symptom-free.
  • Get a rapid/PCR test 5 days after exposure.
  • Wear a high-quality mask around others for at least 10 days after exposure.
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get a rapid/PCR test 3-5 days after symptom onset.

Symptomatic Individuals

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during the year, DO NOT COME TO CAMPUS.

  • Stay home and get tested 3-5 days after symptom onset.
  • If you test negative and your symptoms resolve, you may return to campus.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, please see “Positive Cases”

Positive Cases

If you test positive for COVID-19, please complete the health screening form and follow the guidance which is listed below under “Returning to Campus After Testing Positive for COVID-19”, and set forth in the “Do Not Proceed to Campus” email that you will receive.

Testing Options

For you convenience, here are some testing options:

  • The federal government is providing every household with four free at-home tests. Order here.
  • These NYC Health+Hospital testing sites offer pick-up for free at-home tests (one test kit per person is recommended).
  • TC insurance providers—including Aetna, Emblem and CU Health—will reimburse individuals for a certain number of at-home tests purchased at pharmacies if the purpose of the test is to confirm diagnosis of COVID-19. If you use one of these insurance providers, contact them for more information about how to apply for reimbursement. 

Please note: All individuals are expected to comply with any COVID-19 policies and procedures that apply to them. Individuals who do not comply may be subject to disciplinary action, including being restricted from campus.

A Note on Positive Test Results

According to the CDC, after a COVID-19 infection, you may continue to test positive for some time. You may continue to test positive on antigen tests for a few weeks after your initial positive test result. You may also continue to test positive on NAATs for up to 90 days. Reinfections can occur within 90 days, which can make it hard to know if a positive test indicates a new infection. Consider consulting a healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your individual circumstances.

Based on this guidance, employees that test positive for COVID within 90 days of first testing positive, for their second or subsequent infections occurring within 90 days of one another, are required to follow up with their healthcare provider, within 48 hrs of reporting a positive test result, to confirm the result or determine if the employee is ill due to some other reason. Keeping in mind becoming COVID positive within the 90 days post infections is not common due to antibodies from the prior infection.

Return to Campus After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Any employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 5 full days. Day 0 is calculated based on when symptoms begin or the first positive test date, whichever happens first. As long as they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication, they can end isolation on day 6 with mask use until the end of day 10.

Updated CDC Guidance on Respiratory Viruses

On March 1, 2024, the CDC released updated Respiratory Virus Guidance in response to the decreasing risk that COVID-19 poses to the population. This updated Guidance includes strategies to protect people at the highest risk of getting seriously ill and provides actionable recommendations for people with common viral respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV.

Protect Yourself from Getting Sick

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19, flu, and RSV is to stay up to date on your recommended vaccines. Even when vaccines don’t prevent infection, they often tame these viruses, reducing severity, and preventing their worst outcomes, like hospitalization and death. Along with staying up-to-date on your vaccines, practicing good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces can help. Also, taking steps for cleaner air can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. This can mean bringing in fresh outside air by opening a window, purifying indoor air, or having outdoor social activities.

If You Get Sick

Even if you practice these core prevention strategies, you may still catch a virus and develop respiratory symptoms. If that happens, the updated Guidance recommends two actions:

Step 1: Stay at home. As much as possible, you should stay home and away from others until at least 24 hours after both:

    1. Your symptoms are getting better overall, and
    2.  You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).

This advice is similar to what has been recommended for flu for decades and will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses during the most contagious period after infection. Not all respiratory virus infections result in a fever, so paying attention to other symptoms (cough, muscle aches, etc.) is important as you determine when you are well enough to leave home. If your symptoms are getting better, and stay better for 24 hours, you are less likely to pass your infection to others and you can start getting back to your daily routine and move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Resume normal activities, and use added prevention strategies over the next five days, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing your hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses. People can choose to use these prevention strategies at any time. Since some people remain contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period, taking added precautions can lower the chance of spreading respiratory viruses to others.

People who are at higher risk for severe illness who start to feel sick should seek health care right away so that they can access testing and/or treatment. Early treatment for COVID-19 or flu may prevent severe disease in people at higher risk, even if they are up to date with their vaccines.

For additional information on this updated Guidance please visit the CDC's website. 

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