Isolation and Quarantine

General Questions

What is quarantine?

Quarantine is for those individuals who are believed to have potentially been exposed to COVID-19, but have not tested positive. (For more information on close contacts, please see our FAQ on contact tracing.) 

A quarantine period is defined as one of these two options:

  • At least 14 days from the date of last exposure; or
  • At least 10 days, provided all of the following are satisfied:
    • You have not had, and do not have symptoms;
    • You are tested on day 8, or later, of your quarantine period using a molecular diagnostic test (ex PCR test) to detect the presence of the virus;
    • You receive a negative test result; and
    • You monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days. If you develop symptoms you should contact your health care provider and be re-tested.

Quarantine means staying in your own living space for the duration of the period and monitoring yourself for any potential signs of infection. Quarantining means that you can’t go out—not to work, school, or public places. While it is vital to keep in touch with friends, significant others, and family via video calls, phone calls, emails, and/or text messages, you should not spend any time with them during the quarantine period.

If you’re quarantining at home, you should also stay away from other members of your household by staying in a separate area, such as a private bedroom with a private bathroom.. If you do have to enter common areas of the home, you and the other household members should wear a mask, maintain physical distance, wash hands frequently, and clean surfaces as they are used.

What is isolation?

Isolation is for those individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation means staying in your own living space for the designated period of time, which is generally 10 days at a minimum. During isolation, you should avoid all others and you cannot go out - not to work, school, or public places. While it is vital to keep in touch with friends, significant others, and family via video calls, phone calls, emails, and/or text messages, you should not spend any time with them while you are in isolation.

If isolating at home, you should also stay away from other members of your household by staying in a separate area, such as a private bedroom with a private bathroom. If you do have to enter common areas of the home, you and the other household members should wear a mask, maintain physical distance, wash hands frequently, and clean surfaces as they are used.
You may not leave isolation and quarantine until cleared to do so by authorized College personnel or a designated third party partner. Isolation discontinuation may be approved after meeting all of the following criteria:

  1. isolating for at least 10 days since your day 0 (the day you test positive or begin to have symptoms)
  2. your symptoms are improving
  3. you have not had a fever in the past 24 hours without the use of medications


Why are the isolation and quarantine times different?

The purpose of isolation and quarantine is to reduce your exposure to others while you are or may be contagious. Generally, the contagion period is approximately fourteen days. Those who have already been confirmed to have the virus are further into their contagious period than those who have only been exposed to COVID-19. Therefore, those who have been exposed need to be quarantined for a longer period of time.

For Residential Students

When will I need to isolate or quarantine?

You will need to isolate in the event of a positive COVID test. You will need to quarantine in the event you are identified as a close contact.

Where will I isolate?

You will isolate in a local hotel room booked by the College, or in designated space provisioned by the College.

Where will I isolate/quarantine?

If you live within 250 miles of campus, you will be required to quarantine at your family home. If you reside beyond 250 miles of campus, you will quarantine in a room reserved by the College at a local hotel, or in designated space provisioned by the College.

What happens if I isolate/quarantine on campus?

When it has been determined that you should isolate/quarantine, you will be transported to our hotel. Your hotel room comes with a bed, desk, chair, television, and micro-fridge. You will be supplied with sheets, towels, cleaning supplies and instructions on who to contact for assistance, how to select meal and snack choices and food delivery. Every day, you will receive the next three meals, snacks, and beverages of your choosing delivered outside of your room’s door.

College isolation and quarantine spaces are provided support and supervision 24/7.

What do I need to bring with me to the isolation/quarantine space? 

  • Cell phone and computer chargers and power cords.
  • Any textbooks or other academic needs.
  • Over the counter and prescription medication to last at least 14 days.
  • Enough clothing to last at least 14 days. Access to laundry may be limited during isolation and quarantine.

What if I need something during isolation/quarantine?

You will be provided with a list of contacts you may use if you need anything, including public safety, facilities, and student support.

When can I leave isolation/quarantine?

You may not leave isolation and quarantine until cleared to do so by authorized College personnel or a designated third party partner.

If I tested positive, will you repeat the test?

No, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, any positive test requires the appropriate isolation period, and repeat testing is not recommended. The PCR testing we are using has a very low risk of a false positive result.

If I am in quarantine, can a negative test result “release” me from quarantine?

If you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must quarantine. A negative test result does not mean you can discontinue quarantine, as there is a potential to develop COVID-19 at any time within the quarantine period.

In some cases, a negative test result after day 8 can allow you to leave quarantine on day 11 instead of day 14. A negative test result earlier in your quarantine does not shorten your quarantine period. You may not leave isolation or quarantine until cleared to do so by authorized College personnel or a designated third party partner.

For Off-Campus Students Approved to Come onto Campus

When will I need to isolate or quarantine?

You will need to isolate in the event of a positive COVID test. You will need to quarantine in the event you are identified as a close contact.

Where will I isolate?

You will isolate in your off-campus housing if you can do so with your own bathroom and isolation space away from others. If you cannot safely isolate, you will be offered space at a local hotel room reserved by the College or designated space provisioned by the College.

Where will I quarantine?

You will quarantine in your off-campus housing. If doing so is not feasible, and you live within 250 miles of campus, you will quarantine at your family home. If quarantining in your off-campus residence is not feasible, and you live outside of 250 miles, you can quarantine in a local hotel room reserved by the College or in designated space provisioned by the College.

How do I isolate/quarantine in my off-campus apartment?

Please see the CDC guidelines for information about isolation or quarantine

What happens if I inadvertently have contact with someone while I am in isolation/quarantine?

If you inadvertently have contact with someone while you are in isolation/quarantine, this person should undergo an evaluation to determine the level of potential exposure. Please ask them to contact our Isolation and Quarantine Coordinators at iqcoordinator@holycross.edu.

When can I leave isolation/quarantine?

You may not leave isolation and quarantine until cleared to do so by authorized College personnel or a designated third party partner.

If I tested positive, will you repeat the test?

No, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, any positive test requires the appropriate isolation period, and repeat testing is not recommended. The PCR testing we are utilizing has a very low risk of a false positive result.

If I am in quarantine, can a negative test result “release” me from quarantine?

No, if you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must quarantine. A negative test result does not mean you can discontinue quarantine, as there is a potential to develop COVID-19 at any time within the quarantine period.

For Employees

When will I need to isolate or quarantine?

You will need to isolate in the event of a positive COVID test. You will need to quarantine in the event you are identified as a close contact.

Where will I isolate/quarantine?

You will isolate/quarantine at your residence of choice, off-campus.

How do I isolate/quarantine?

Please see the CDC guidelines for information about isolation or quarantine

What happens if I inadvertently have contact with someone while I am in isolation/quarantine?

If you inadvertently have contact with someone while you are in isolation/quarantine, this person should undergo an evaluation to determine the level of potential exposure. Please ask them to contact our Isolation and Quarantine Coordinators at iqcoordinator@holycross.edu.

When can I leave isolation/quarantine?

Follow your physician’s advice. If you don’t have a primary care provider, please contact HR to make arrangements for an appointment with Reliant.

If I tested positive, will you repeat the test?

No, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, any positive test requires the appropriate isolation period, and repeat testing is not recommended. The PCR testing we are utilizing has a very low risk of a false positive result.

If I am in quarantine, can a negative test result “release” me from quarantine?

No, if you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must quarantine. A negative test result does not mean you can discontinue quarantine, as there is a potential to develop COVID-19 at any time within quarantine period.

When can I return to campus?

After quarantine or isolation, you should communicate as far in advance as possible with Human Resources about a return-to-work plan. As a general practice, Human Resources will require such employees to obtain return-to-work certifications or other appropriate documentation from their medical provider indicating that they are fully recovered and do not pose a risk of further transmission. If this proves impracticable or impossible, Human Resources may determine, based on available evidence and information, whether and when it is safe for the employee to return to work.

Recovering employees may, in the College’s discretion, be permitted to return to work remotely, where remote working is an option, before they are permitted to return to campus. Additional documentation may be required before an employee can return to campus in these circumstances.