Isolation Guidance for Faculty and Staff

For Faculty and Staff Who Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 

Only Occupational Health can place faculty and staff in, and release them from, isolation.


Your COVID-19 test is positive, which means you have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. You must self-isolate immediately, regardless of your vaccination status. If you are fully vaccinated, it is important that you follow these instructions because you could still spread the virus to others. We understand this may be unsettling news but the university has your safety and care as a top priority and has developed the necessary measures to help you recover as quickly as possible. If the GW Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST) hasn’t already contacted you, a member of the team will be contact you soon to discuss your COVID-19 test result. There are several important steps you must take now: 

  1. Begin self-isolation at home. 
  2. Notify your supervisor that you are sick and will not be reporting to work. You do not need to tell them your COVID-19 test was positive. 
  3. Monitor your symptoms and seek medical care immediately for any serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or feeling faint. 
  4. Contact GW Occupational Health if you need medical assistance at (202) 677-6230 or [email protected].
  5. Be prepared for the CCST, Occupational Health, and your local health department to follow-up. 


Step 1: Begin Self-Isolation at Home 

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 from people who are not infected. The total length of time you are in self-isolation will depend on how long you experience symptoms (symptomatic) and is determined by a medical provider at GW Occupational Health. Some people who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic and do not have any symptoms. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals need to self-isolate. You will be in self isolation for at least 10 days, perhaps longer if you are first asymptomatic and later develop symptoms or your symptoms continue. While you are in isolation, a hold will be placed on your GWorld card restricting your access to campus spaces. 

Self-Isolation Instructions 

  • Stay in your home for the entire isolation period except for medical emergencies (i.e., need to see a medical provider in person as a result of serious symptoms). 
  • If you live alone, many grocery stores and pharmacies offer delivery. A friend or relative may also bring you the supplies you need, however they should not spend significant time in your home. 
  • Avoid contact with others and prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in your home. 
  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people who live in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available. Restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick. More guidelines for isolating in your home where you live with others can be found here: Living in Shared Housing 
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets, and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are short of breath when wearing a mask, then people who live with you should wear a face covering if they are in the same room as you. 
  • Clean your hands often: wash with soap and water, at least 20 seconds, or although less preferable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. 
  • Wash your hands especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can and clean your hands immediately. 
  • Clean and disinfect your space, especially any shared areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. More details can be found here: Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Home. 
  • For additional isolation guidance, please see DC Health’s, Virginia DOH’s, or Maryland DOH’s isolation instructions. If you have household members or intimate partners, please share CDC’s guidelines for household members. 


Step 2: Notify Your Supervisor 

Notify your supervisor that you are sick and will not be reporting to work. You do not need to tell them that your COVID-19 test was positive. Additionally, CCST will contact you to discuss your COVID-19 test result, review the isolation instructions, and facilitate communication with Faculty Affairs/Human Resources. If you have any questions about your leave from work, please contact your Human Resources Business partner. 


Step 3: Monitor Yourself for Symptoms 

GW Occupational Health should give you instructions on how to care for yourself at home. They also should review instructions on when to seek medical care immediately. 

  • Symptoms may include: fever (subjective or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or otherwise feeling unwell. 
  • If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek immediate medical care: difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. 

Treat your symptoms: 

  • There is no known cure for COVID-19 infection. Treatment is supportive. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids/water. 
  • Control your fever. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Rest. 
  • Stay well nourished. 


Step 4: Contact GW Occupational Health If You Need Medical Assistance

GW Occupational Health can be reached 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. GW Occupational Health is the only unit authorized to medically clear you from isolation in order to return to campus. When you call, a screening will be conducted for COVID-19 symptoms. Medical care will be provided free of charge via tele-health and follow up care or further testing will also be provided if needed. There will be no charge for your first tele-health visit, but any follow up testing or healthcare services will be billed to your insurance. You may choose to seek care from your personal physician; however, you must wait until GW Occupational Health clears you to return to campus. 

You are to remain in isolation until: 

  • At least 10 days* have passed since your symptoms first started or 10 days from your positive result if you are asymptomatic; AND
  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever without taking fever-reducing medication; AND
  • Your symptoms have markedly improved; AND
  • You are cleared by GW Occupational Health. 

If you tested positive but never had any symptoms, then you must wait until at least 10 days have passed since you were tested. GW Occupational Health will provide you with a note for your supervisor to return to work. 
* Persons who experienced severe illness should consult with their providers, as they may have to isolate until 20 days have passed since symptoms first started. 


Step 5: Be Prepared for CCST, Occupational Health, and a Local Health Department Follow-up 

A member of the GW CCST and someone from your local health department will reach out to conduct follow-up interviews. These interviews will include collecting information on the following: 

  • Symptoms 
  • Clinical history 
  • Information about your activities and close contacts starting 48 hours before your COVID-19 symptoms appeared or your positive test result 
    • Your information will remain confidential and is collected only to inform public health action such as contacting those who need to be quarantined to prevent further spread. 
    • For additional information on this process, please see the CDC’s contact tracing fact sheet

Contact Information: