Isolation Guidance for Students

For Students Who Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 

Only the Colonial Health Center (CHC) can place students 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 isolation 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, it will very 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 professors and/or supervisors that you will not be reporting to class/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 the Colonial Health Center if you need medical assistance, 202-994-5300.
  5. Be prepared for CCST/CHC/Local Health Department follow-up within the next 10 days. 
  6. If you are in need of mental health or counseling services please call 202-994-5300. 


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 Colonial Health Center. 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: 

  • For residential (on-campus) students, a member of the Campus Living and Residential Education (CLRE) team will assess your living situation and provide a recommendation about the best campus location to isolate.  
  • Off-campus students should stay in your room/home for the entire isolation period except for medical emergencies. If you live with other people, stay in a specific room and away from other people and use a separate bathroom, if available. More guidelines for isolating in your home or where you live with others can be found here: Living in Shared Housing 
  • Restrict contact with pets and other animals unless they are for emotional support or trained service animals.
  • Avoid contact with others and prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in your residence hall/home. 
  • Wear a facemask 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 with you. 
  • Clean your hands often: wash with soap and water, at least 20 seconds, or (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 Professors and/or Supervisors 

Notify your professors and/or supervisors 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. While in isolation, please work with your professors to access any information you may have missed. 
The Campus Living and Residential Education team (CLRE) will support and respond to students in isolation. A member of CLRE will reach out to you to provide support with basic needs such as grocery and essential package delivery and communicating with professors should you run into issues.


Step 3: Monitor Yourself for Symptoms 

The Colonial Health Center should have given you instructions on how to care for yourself at home. They should have also reviewed instructions on when to seek medical care immediately. 

  • Symptoms may include the following: 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. 
  • You may need a prescription for anti-nausea medication or an inhaler. Call 202-994-5300 to discuss with a clinician whether a prescription is appropriate in your circumstances. 


Step 4: Contact the Colonial Health Center If You Need Medical Assistance

You may reach the Colonial Health Center (CHC) at 202-994-5300. Medical care will be provided via telehealth (phone and Zoom), and follow up care or further testing will also be provided if needed. COVID-19 medical care will be provided free of charge via tele-health and free follow up care or further testing will also be provided if needed for the following 10 days. You may choose to seek care from your personal physician; however, you must still wait to be cleared by CHC before you can end your isolation and return to campus. You will have a telehealth visit with the CHC on the final day of your isolation. 
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 the GW Colonial Health Center

If you tested positive but never had any symptoms, then you must wait until at least 10 days have passed since you were tested. 
* 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, CHC, and Local Health Department Follow-up 

A member of the 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. 


Step 6: If Needed, Access Mental Health and Counseling Services 

Telehealth services (via phone and zoom) are available with CHC providers for: 

  • Medical services 
  • Counseling
  • Psychological services 
  • Psychiatry services 

Contact Information: 

Additional Resources: 

You may request medications from any pharmacy, and some may provide delivery service. 

Whole Foods Foggy Bottom offers grocery delivery services to both residential and off-campus students.  The Campus Living and Residential Education team (CLRE) can help residential students with grocery deliveries or you can have food delivered to your residence hall