Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience: Office of Student Life

Quarantine and Isolation FAQs

August 23, 2020

Information as of November 10, 2020. Please check back regularly for updates as information is subject to change. 

Quarantine and Isolation Overview

Quarantine (as defined by the CDC) is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

At Ohio State, students will required to quarantine for specific reasons, including:

  • Quarantine due to coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Quarantine due to travel (Ex: They are traveling to Ohio from a state reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19.)

Isolation (as defined by the CDC) keeps people who are sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others.

Quarantine and isolation housing will be provided for students with Ohio State housing contracts as an option if students do not elect to or cannot return home to their permanent residence. Students will be moved to living spaces specifically for quarantine or isolation, respectively. Students will be moved for the safety of themselves and others to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Quarantine FAQs

Why do I have to quarantine or isolation?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 and may develop the disease away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. Students who have been knowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19 and identified by public health officials as needing a quarantine period are required to quarantine for up to 14 days. Quarantine can occur at home, at an off-campus location or on-campus as provided by the university.

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.  People who are in isolation have tested positive for COVID-19 and should stay in their assigned isolation space until its safe for them to be around others. 

 Do I have a contact for questions or other concerns if I’m in on-campus quarantine or isolation housing?

In case of an emergency, call 911 or University Police at 614-292-2121 (nonemergency).    

For non-health related concerns, please contact the front desk number you were provided or via email at SL-ResidenceLifeAssistance@osu.edu. A member of Student Life / Residence Life Staff will be able to assist you. The email is regularly checked.  The Lawrence Tower Desk is staffed 24 hours per day 7 days per week during your staff.  You can call the desk at any time for questions at 614-688-7744.    

For health-related concerns, call your primary care physician or Student Health Services at 614-292-4321, Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For after-hours care, visit the SHS website

To reach Student Health Services, you can send a secure message via My BuckMD (select "questions for COVID-19" from the dropdown menu); call 614-292-4321 (option 1 to leave a voicemail); or email sl-covid19.shs@osu.edu. If you are reporting personal health information, you should not email the information, but instead, use My BuckMD

For questions related to contact tracing, you can reach out to us by email at ContactTracing@osu.edu or by phone at 614-688-CASE (614-688-2273).

Am I allowed to leave my room while in quarantine or isolation?

No. Only in cases of emergency should students leave their rooms while in quarantine or isolation. As students are knowingly exposed or positive, limiting movement to your room reduces the likelihood of further community spread. Students are able to leave their room for testing (quarantine only) and they can sign up for outdoor time 30 minutes each day. Students should remain in their rooms all other times.

Am I able to go home to quarantine or isolate? 

Yes. Students can travel home to be with friends or family to complete isolation or quarantine if desired. Students should follow CDC guidance for travel if they plan to completed quarantine or isolation at home. The university will work with students on how best to support the timeline for pick-up from campus (for students with university housing contracts).  We advise students and families to follow guidance from public health officials on how to quarantine or isolation at home. 

Will I have a roommate in quarantine or isolation housing if I’m an on-campus student?

Students in isolation could have a roommate if you have an on-campus housing contract. Students in isolation are all knowingly positive and having a roommate does not impact spread. If a student is in quarantine due to exposure, you will not have a roommate (though your room may be set-up as a double).

Am I allowed to have visitors?

No. The university is not allowing guests across residential spaces in which someone does not live. Being in quarantine means that you may have a higher risk for having been exposed to the disease. No visitors will be allowed.

How will I get my personal items?

You will be able to pack-up needed items from your room before moving to quarantine housing. You will be provided a suggested packing list and additional guidance on moving to your quarantine location. Items already provided in your quarantine space:

  • Bedding, towels, disinfectant cleaner and instructions, paper towels, a thermometer, hand sanitizer, a basic first aid kit, disposable face masks, toilet paper, facial tissue, trash bags, a laundry bag, a starter-supply of feminine hygiene products and basic toiletries.
  • Rooms will also include air cleaners, microfridges, trash cans and standard residence hall room furniture (bed, desk, desk chair, wardrobe/closet, etc.).
  • Each room has a private bath within the space.

What do I do if I run out of a personal item or supply that I need while in university supplied quarantine and isolation housing?

Please contact the front desk number provided to you at check-in or email SL-ResidenceLifeAssistance@osu.edu. A member of the Student Life / Residence Life Staff will be able to assist you. The desk will be regularly staffed 7 days per week and the email is regularly checked.  

How do I get food and drinks?

Dining Services will contact you directly and share detailed information about food delivery to your room, as well as discuss any specific dietary needs. Dining Services will also provide a specific contact number for any questions or concerns. We will routinely stay in touch with you and coordinate all food delivery details.

How do I dispose of my trash?

Please use the garbage bags provided to empty your trash daily. Students in quarantine or isolations should place the tied-up bag outside your door every morning before noon. Environmental Services will collect your trash for disposal, so you do not have to leave your room.

What guidance is provided to those in quarantine or isolation?

The CDC recommends the following for those in quarantine to monitor your health and practice physical distancing:

  1. Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
  2. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (temperature above 100.4). Also watch for cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  3. If possible, stay away others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19

Other guidance will be provided by public health officials.  

Who can I talk to about the financial impacts of quarantine or isolation?

Student Advocacy can assist you with any concerns regarding potential impacts. They can be reached at 614-292-1111 or advocacy@osu.edu. Students can apply for the Together As Buckeyes emergency grants program. Learn more 

Am I allowed to have my Emotional Support Animal with me?

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are allowed at this facility. Please let housing staff know of your emotional support animal and refer to the guidelines e-mailed to regarding the care and feeding of your ESA. We will need to discuss arrangements for your ESA. The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center can provide more information about COVID-19 and animals. Please wash your hands after contact with your animal.

How do I request an ADA accommodation for my housing needs? 

If you require accommodations, please work with Student Life Disability Services (SLDS) at 614-292-3307. 

Who should I call if I need medical attention or I start to have symptoms?

Call your primary care physician or Student Health Services at 614-292-4321, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For after-hours care, visit the SHS website. If you are experiencing severe coronavirus symptoms or experiencing a medical emergency, call 911. Please let them know you have been exposed to COVID-19.

What if there’s a fire and I need to evacuate?

If you hear the fire alarm system sound, please evacuate the building immediately, wear a mask properly and be sure to maintain appropriate physical distancing in the emergency assembly point noted on the evacuation plans. 

How do I report a maintenance or housekeeping issue?

Please go to s2f.osu.edu to report these issues. If you have a problem or issue that requires immediate attention, please call 614-292-4357.    

Will you enter my room for cleaning or to clean my restroom?

Though maintenance and housekeeping can enter your space to address critical work orders, you will be responsible for the cleaning of your own living space, including the restroom.  

What mental health resources are available to me while I’m in quarantine or isolation?

The Counseling and Consultation Service Office is offering teletherapy and other remote opportunities for engaging in conversations. Please go to ccs.osu.edu or call 614-292-5766.

The Buckeye Peer Access Line (PAL) is a non-emergency talk line that provides a space for students to engage in brief phone conversations in order to gain support and learn about campus resources. Student volunteers are available to provide peer-to-peer assistance that promotes and enhances student development and wellbeing.  Buckeye PAL operates Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight when classes are in session during fall and spring semesters. 

When am I done with my quarantine or isolation?

Student Life Student Health Services will work with the Wexner Medical Center and public health officials to follow guidelines as it relates to quarantine and isolation. Generally, the quarantine period lasts 14 days and the isolation period lasts 10 days but you will be notified by Case Investigation and Contract Tracing Team (CICTT) as you near your completion of quarantine or isolation. CITCC will provide you with documentation that you have been cleared to resume in-person activities. Masks should still be worn in all settings.

Where do I go when I’m done with quarantine or isolation?

You can return to your permanent campus assignment once you’ve been notified by Student Health Services that you have been cleared from quarantine and isolation. Please contact University Housing at 614-292-8266 or housing@osu.edu if you have housing assignment related questions. 

Once I have finished my quarantine or isolation, what do I need to do?

Representatives from the Office of Student Life will contact you regarding your move out process. Please pack up all personal belongings and remove trash from your room.   You will be provided additional instructions on room key and key card return as well.    

I’m concerned about my privacy, who will know I’m in quarantine and isolation?

Student information is protected by FERPA and medical information is protected by HIPAA. However, during a public health emergency, information may be shared with public health agencies on a need-to-know basis only.

Does a negative test mean I can leave quarantine sooner?

No. At this time, students are required to complete the 14-day quarantine period.

If I need accommodations while I’m in quarantine or isolation, what should I do?

Students should complete the accommodation request form for any needs while in quarantine or isolation housing. Additional information can be found on the SLDS website.

What happens to my mail? What if I need a package?

A student’s mail will be held at their permanent residence hall. Packages, that are critical to your stay in quarantine or isolation can be retrieved from your residence hall for you in limited circumstances.

Where is isolation and quarantine housing located?

The university will designate specific assignments for quarantine and isolation housing. Students will be given their assignment when contacted regarding the need to quarantine or isolate.

Quarantine Due to Travel Overview

Based upon guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a travel advisory from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, The Ohio State University will require students traveling to Ohio from impacted locations to quarantine for 14 days in their residence hall room upon arrival to campus. This includes students traveling to campus from an international departure and those entering Ohio after travel to states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19. For more information on the State of Ohio’s travel advisory, please visit the Ohio Department of Health website. For more information on the CDC guidance on international travel, please visit the CDC website.  

The list of states is updated every week on Wednesday with changes based on a seven-day rolling average of positivity rates. Impacted states are likely to change before move-in. To best manage the evolving list and to promote a safe and healthy living environment, students will be allowed to move into and quarantine in their permanent residence hall assignment.  

Students from these states are encouraged to arrive early if possible, beginning August 8, to complete their quarantine prior to the beginning of the autumn semester. If it is not possible to arrive early, students may request accommodations on the Student Life Disability Services website for their courses while completing quarantine.  

If your state is on the list at the time of your move-in or you are traveling from any international location, you will be asked to quarantine in your room and restrict your movements at the time of your arrival.  

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at housing@osu.edu or 614-292-8266.

Quarantine Due to Travel FAQs

What does quarantine in my permanent assignment mean? 

Students who need to quarantine for travel will be allowed to arrive and check into their permanent (their autumn and spring 2020) housing assignment. This will allow you to get settled into your room before classes begin. You will be asked to observe measures for health and safety and those will be provided to housing students.   

I cannot arrive early and my quarantine period will conflict with classes. What do I do about classes?

You will still need to quarantine upon your arrival for 14-days. We encourage you to work in advance with your instructors to arrange accommodations. If you need COVID-19 related accommodations related, please fill out the form on the SLDS website

If you need assistance with working with instructors, please contact the Student Advocacy Center at advocacy@osu.edu

Can I quarantine with friends, family or in a hotel in Ohio rather than in residence halls? 

Yes. You are able to quarantine at your own expense at another location within the state of Ohio for 14-days prior to moving into residence halls. 

Can I quarantine with friends or family in a state not on the advisory list rather than in residence halls? 

Yes. You are able to quarantine for 14 days with friends or family in a state that is not on the State of Ohio advisory list prior to moving to Ohio. If you are not quarantining in the state of Ohio, please pay attention to the list of states on Ohio’s travel advisory and ensure your state is not recommended for quarantine. 

What data are used to determine a state’s positivity rate?  

Data are from the Ohio Department of Public Health. For more information, please visit the Ohio Department of Public Health website.

What if my state is added to the list or removed from the list after I arrive?  Do I still need to quarantine? 

The requirement to quarantine due to travel is applicable to the time you arrive on campus.  If your state is part of the travel advisory at the time of your arrival on campus, you will need to quarantine in your room.  Even if your state is removed from the advisory at a time after your arrival, you will need to complete your quarantine period.   

Am I able to change my move-in time if my state is added to the travel advisory after I sign-up for a move-in time? 

Yes. Students are able to go into the move-in time scheduler and change their times.   

I am coming from a city/area or country with low COVID-19 rates. Do I still have to quarantine? 

Yes. The State of Ohio advisory applies to the entire state. At this time, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone arriving at Ohio State from an international location is required to quarantine for 14-days. 

I am just driving through or have a layover in a state on the advisory list on the way to Ohio. Do I still have to quarantine? 

According to the State of Ohio, travel to another state occurs any time a person crosses into a state via air travel, public transit, personal vehicle, or rideshares/taxis and interacts with individuals in that state. Making stops along the way for gas, food or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces. When determining whether you should quarantine, consider the activities engaged in while you were traveling to or through listed states: 

  • Did you physically distance, wear a mask, and wash or sanitize your hands often?  
  • Did you have prolonged, sustained contact with others? For example, stopping for fuel or traveling to an office where physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand hygiene are practiced regularly are less risky than going to a restaurant or gathering that does not enforce mask-wearing or physically distancing.  

For more info, please see the Ohio Department of Public Health website.

Can I provide a negative COVID-19 test or an antibody test rather than quarantine?  

No. At this time, guidance from the Ohio Department of Health specifically mentions that a negative test result or an antibody test in lieu of quarantine is not acceptable. According to guidance from the state of Ohio, it could take days before an infection shows up on a lab test. So, even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should quarantine for the full 14 days. 

I previously had COVID-19. Do I still have to quarantine? 

Yes. Guidance from the state of Ohio states “because COVID-19 is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, it is unknown whether a person can be re-infected; therefore, it is recommended that you quarantine after returning from travel to one of the listed states.” 

Can I leave quarantine for any reason? 

Guidance from the state of Ohio recommends that individuals in quarantine remain at home and avoid all in-person activities, including work, grocery stores, public events and public places. It is only recommended that an individual leaves their residence for medical care.  

Students in quarantine for travel purposes are asked to remain in their residence halls. You may leave your room to use the restroom, do laundry, get packages from the desk, pick up food from the lobby or other essential tasks. Students should remain in their rooms and follow health and safety procedures (physical distancing, handwashing, wearing a mask, etc.) as much as possible.   

For more information, please see the Ohio Department of Public Health website.

How will I get meals? 

Upon check-in, you will be asked to complete a quick online form that will notify our Dining Services staff that you are in need of meals because of quarantine due to travel. Dining Services will be in contact via your cell phone to discuss any dietary restrictions. Please be patient as we are managing many requests for quarantine due to travel meals. Meals will be delivered in a grocery type fashion with a combination of fresh items and items that may need to be reheated. Meal delivery will occur every 2-3 days to restock your supply of food. Enough food will be provided to account for several different meals over the course of a few days. Meals will be delivered to each residence hall for students to pick-up from a designated location. If you have not been contacted by Dining Services within a few hours after your arrival, please call your front desk or send an email to Dining Services via dining@osu.edu.    

Will I be tested for COVID-19 during the quarantine period? 

Testing for travel quarantine purposes is not required. Students who develop symptoms can arrange for their own testing via the Student Health Services or their primary care physician. Students should contact Student Health Services or their primary care physician regarding symptoms. 

How am I supposed to get books and supplies? 

If you arrive in time to quarantine before the first day of classes, you will be able to secure your books and supplies prior to classes start. If you arrive after that, several books or supplies are available online for order. If you require additional support with getting books and supplies, please reach out to your instructor or connect with the Student Advocacy Center at advocacy@osu.edu

I am not in quarantine due to travel, but my roommate is. What should I do? 

Students in quarantine due to travel have not been knowingly exposed to COVID-19.  Quarantine due to travel is based upon a positivity rate for a given state that is encompassing of composite data from the entire state and may not be indicative of someone's actual location within that state. Therefore, students are permitted to quarantine in their permanent assignment but cannot leave their residence halls. We encourage residents to wear masks in public spaces and your room. You should observe hand-washing and physical distancing recommendations while also regularly cleaning surfaces. Cleaning supplies are available at each residence hall front desk.     

What if I don’t feel comfortable with my living accommodations due to COVID-19? 

Students who do not feel comfortable due to COVID-19 concerns should contact their Residence Life staff or University Housing for next steps.     

If someone is knowingly exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will they also be allowed to quarantine in their permanent assignment? 

No. Students who need to be in isolation due to a positive test and students who need to be in quarantine due to knowing exposure to someone who is positive will be moved to a different location on campus to complete their quarantine period.   

Can I still cancel my housing contract? 

If you are uncomfortable with your living situations for reasons related to COVID-19, please contact University Housing - housing@osu.edu

I cannot financially afford to quarantine on campus or at my home residence. Are there funds I can apply for?

Yes. Students can apply for the Together As Buckeyes emergency grants program. Learn more