As we enter into Fall 2023 semester, the University has moved to a COVID-19 endemic approach. As an endemic virus, COVID-19 is expected to follow a regularly occurring pattern with transmission spikes in the colder months of fall and winter. Endemic viruses, though predictable, can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe, hospitalization and even mortality. It is important to know your level of risk and take personal protection and precautions against severe disease.
We encourage all members of the university community to be cognizant of COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary depending upon the current circulating variant and some people may have no symptoms. Everyone should familiarize themselves with COVID-19 symptoms which can be found on the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
COVID-19 Testing and When to Test
If you develop symptoms of COVID, get tested as soon as possible. Most often, COVID-19 presents with upper and/or lower respiratory symptoms. For those who develop a fever, it is often difficult to distinguish between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. Testing can determine which is the causative virus and the best treatment approach.
During this endemic phase, most people now have a history of repeated COVID infections and/or a history of vaccinations. It may take up to 3 days for a symptomatic person to test positive due to a certain amount of “viral load” needed to test positive with rapid antigen testing. Do not assume you are COVID-free if you test negative on the first day of symptoms. Remember to test again for the next few days.
Rapid antigen testing is available at no cost at the on-campus Health Center. Antigen tests are also widely available for purchase at local pharmacies.
If You Have a Direct Exposure to a COVID-19 Positive Person
If you are a direct contact of a COVID-positive case, test yourself 3-5 days post exposure or earlier if you develop symptoms. Testing earlier than days 3-5, may produce a premature negative test result. You do not have to quarantine if exposed but you should test yourself during the recommended time frame.
If You Test Positive for COVID-19
- If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home or if on campus, stay in your room. Report your positive test result to Health Services (732-571-3464) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of your positive test and the date you tested positive. Reporting should be done in a timely manner, during your absence period.
- DO NOT attend in-person classes, clinicals, practice, work, internships or social events during this period.
- Wear a mask when accessing food or moving through public/common areas. Do not eat in public/common places.
- Date of your positive test is day 0. Stay home or in your room for 5 days. You may return to school or work on day 6. The CDC recommends you be masked for days 6-10, especially if you still have symptoms. You may unmask during days 6-10 if you test negative with a rapid antigen test.
- You are responsible for notifying professors or place of work that you are out sick and your anticipated date of return.
- Medical Excuse Notes: If you tested positive for COVID-19 at the Health Center, we will provide you with a medical excuse note outlining the days you will be out due to illness.
- If you tested positive at home and notified Health Services via phone/email during your absence period, you will be sent an email that can be used as documentation of a reported, positive COVID test.
- If you tested positive at an off-campus medical facility/provider, you will need to obtain an absence notification from that facility/provider.
COVID Vaccination is highly recommended but not required. COVID vaccination remains one of the health “tools” to protect yourself against severe disease and hospitalization. Know your health risk and vaccination recommendations. Current recommendation is for adults to receive a bivalent COVID vaccination. Most likely, COVID-19 immunization will become an annual vaccine recommendation, along with seasonal influenza.