Frequently Asked Questions

Updated August 15, 2023


Are masks required on campus?
  • Masks are not required on campus. 
  • If you have health concerns, we encourage you to wear a mask when around others, especially indoors and if local COVID-19 transmission risks are elevated. High-quality masks (such as N95s, KN95s, and KF94s) can reduce the risk of transmission.  
  • High-quality masks worn correctly will significantly reduce the risk of transmission even if others around you are not masked. 
  • WPI has a limited supply of masks available in the Campus Center mailroom during normal business hours. You can also purchase a supply online or at local pharmacies and other stores.  
What should I do if I think I have COVID symptoms?

If you are experiencing severe symptoms or a medical emergency while on campus, call 508-831-5555 for WPI Police, or call 911.   

Anyone with COVID-19–like symptoms should immediately wear a mask and test themselves with a rapid test (see Testing, below). See a list of symptoms here. 

Even if you test negative, if you are feeling symptoms—of COVID-19, colds or flu, or any other transmittable illness—you should stay home from classes and work and wear a mask until your symptoms improve.  


When should I test for COVID?

You should test if you: 

  • Have COVID-like symptoms. If you test negative initially and your symptoms are ongoing, test again 3 to 4 days after your symptoms started. Many people will not produce enough virus to test positive until they have been symptomatic for several days.  
  • Have been exposed to someone with COVID. We advise that you test 5 days after your last contact with a COVID-positive individual or as soon as you develop symptoms.
  • Have traveled or been off campus for break; test 24 hours before returning and 5 days after traveling.
Where can I get a COVID test?

Rapid antigen test kits are widely available at local pharmacies or online. Students who have symptoms can contact Student Health Services at 508-831-5520 to schedule an appointment to be seen and tested. 

My test kit shows an expiration date that has passed. Can I still use it?

The FDA has extended the expiration dates of the test kits. You can verify the expiration date of your test kit by looking up the brand and lot # of your test here: 

The health Team is carefully tracking our inventory to be make sure that our test kits have not expired. we are providing accurate and safe care for our community. 

What should I do if I test positive for COVID?  
  • Go home: You should return immediately to your residence and follow all WPI isolation protocols outlined below.
What should I do if my test is negative but I still have COVID symptoms?

If you have symptoms that could be COVID (allergy, cold or flu-like symptoms), you should wear a well-fitting mask until your symptoms improve, and you should use the following testing strategy to confirm that it is not COVID:     

  • The day symptoms develop, take a test. (Day 1)  
  • If the test is negative and symptoms persist, take another test 48 hours later (Day 3)   
  • If the test is still negative and symptoms persist, take another test 48 hours later (Day 5). If this test is negative, your symptoms are likely to be caused by another condition.  


How do I isolate?  

Depending on your symptoms and the specifics of your case, isolation could last from 5 days up to 10 days or longer. See the table below. WPI is following the CDC isolation requirements for students and employees, which include:  

  • Isolating for at least 5 full days following your positive result. (Day 0 is the day of your positive test result, day 1 is the first full day after you test positive.) 
  • Continuing to isolate until you are fever free for 24 hours or other symptoms have significantly improved.  (See "How do I clear isolation" below.)  
  • During isolation and for 5 days afterwards, wear a high-quality mask (a KN95, N95, or KF94 when outside your room; keep physically distanced from others whenever you leave your room. Wear a high-quality mask in any shared spaces in your private residence (such as a shared bathroom).  
  • Wash your hands frequently and wipe down surfaces in shared bathrooms and other common areas after use.  
  • If your bathroom has a fan, turn it on for at least 30 minutes after you use the bathroom.  
  • Do not visit with anyone, including friends or family, during isolation.  

Note: WPI is following the CDC’s current guidelines for isolation; guidelines may change, so check back for updates.  

The table below shows the typical isolation schedule: 

Day 0     Date of your positive COVID test    
Day 1     Day after Day 0    
Day 6     Leave isolation if you are fever-free and your symptoms have improved    
     If you have a fever, stay in isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication    
  Optional test – if you test positive, remain in isolation and re-test in 48 hours. 
Day 6 through Day 10    Wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask (KN-95, N-95 or KN-94) whenever you are around people   
Day 11     You are no longer required to wear a mask  
Where do I isolate?  

Students will need to arrange their own isolation and quarantine space; options include: 

  • Isolate in place (i.e., your room/apartment) on or off campus. This means you may need to isolate with your roommate(s) present.  
  • Isolate at home or other private off-campus space (your permanent residence, a separate room at a friend or family member's house, or a hotel) if you are able to travel in a private vehicle, without using public transportation or rideshare.  

General guidelines and expectations for students:

  • Students with suite bathrooms are encouraged to work directly with their roommates to determine a system of shared use during isolation.
  • It's important to stay in your room except to use the restroom, pick up meals, go to medical appointment, or to go outside for fresh air while wearing a mask. 
  • If you have to leave your room, wear an N95, KN95 or KN94 mask in shared spaces and maintain at least six feet of distance from others; avoid exposing others to the virus.
  • Do your best to avoid contact with roommates, housemates, and others. Use common sense: if you need to remove your mask in common areas (to brush your teeth, for example) do so quickly while maintaining a distance.
  • Wipe down high-touch surfaces (door knobs, etc.) after contact.
  • Open windows as often as possible to allow fresh air to dilute floating viral particles.
  • Do not have visitors until your isolation period is over.
  • Tie up all trash, including cleaning supplies, tissues, masks, etc.



What do I do if my roommate has health conditions or I can't stay in my room to isolate?

Call the Housing & Residential Experience Center at 508-831-5645, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 4 pm to discuss any special housing needs. If it's outside of normal office hours, email and someone will respond when the office reopens. Moving to isolation housing will not be possible outside of normal office hours.

How and when can I return to normal activities?  

Per CDC guidance, depending on your symptoms and the specifics of your case, isolation could last from 5 days up to 10 days or longer. In general, most people can clear isolation after 5 full days if all of the following criteria are met:   

  • You are asymptomatic or your symptoms are much improved; and   

  • You have been fever-free for 24 hours without any fever-reducing medication

If you choose to take a rapid antigen test after isolating for 5 days and it is positive, continue to isolate and test again in 48 hours.   

It is very important to continue to take the following precautions for 5 full days after you have cleared isolation, totaling 10 full days following the start of your infection:   

  • Wear a well-fitting N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical mask when outside your room and around others   

  • Continue to eat your on-campus meals as grab-and-go   

If you continue to have concerning symptoms after isolating for 5 days, you may still be contagious. If you are a student, contact Health Services at (508) 831-5520 for further instructions. If you are an employee, contact your primary care provider.  


How do I manage mild symptoms?

Mild COVID-19 symptoms include:  

  • nasal congestion and runny nose   
  • sneezing  
  • sore throat   
  • headache  
  • fatigue   
  • low-grade fever   
  • cough   
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea   
  • loss of taste or smell  

You can treat mild symptoms on your own, as you would a typical cold or flu. It’s important to:   

  • get plenty of rest  
  • stay hydrated: frequently take small sips of water, broth, juice, sports drinks, etc., even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid caffeinated beverages.  
  • use over-the-counter medication for fever, sore throat, and general discomfort.  
What if I have more severe symptoms?  

Occasionally, COVID-19 will cause more severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention such as:  

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing  
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest  
  • Feeling confused   
  • Inability to wake or stay awake  
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone  
  • High fevers (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)  

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or, if you’re on campus, call WPI Campus Police at 508-831-5555.  

Students:  If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms, call WPI Student Health Services at 508-831-5520 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm, to make an appointment or speak with a triage nurse.  

For after-hours student telehealth medical care (evenings and weekends) contact WPI’s on-call healthcare provider at UMass Hahnemann Family Health Center of Worcester at 508-334-8830. Identify yourself as a WPI student and follow the prompts to leave a message; the healthcare provider on call will respond as soon as possible.  

If you would like to be seen for an in-person appointment after hours or on a weekend, there are several urgent care options in the area, including ReadyMed Plus Urgent Care, Carewell Urgent Care, and the CVS Minute Clinic. Check your local listings for a clinic.  

For any emergencies that require immediate medical attention, please call Campus Police at 508-831-5555, 911 or go to a nearby emergency room. Following is a list of Worcester-area emergency departments:  

  • UMass Memorial Medical Center    
  • Memorial Campus Emergency Department, 119 Belmont Street, 508-334-6481  
  • University Campus Emergency and Trauma Center, 55 Lake Avenue North, 508-421-1750  
  • Saint Vincent Hospital Emergency Room, 123 Summer Street, 508-363-5000  

Employees: Please reach out to your primary care provider, local urgent care or emergency room if you have any non-urgent or urgent medical concerns related to COVID-19.    

I'm a student; how do I pick up meals during isolation?  

Students who are positive for COVID may go to the dining halls for meal pick-up but must wear an N95, KN95, KN94, or surgical mask. Do NOT eat in dining halls if you are COVID positive.

You can also use food ordering apps or order from campus dining for delivery to your residence hall or apartment via Starship robot (download the app). Ask friends to help with pick up, too.

If you're having trouble obtaining meals, call the Housing & Residential Experience Center at 508-831-5645 (or email Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm for assistance.

Academics: How do students access classes and labs during isolation?  

Please don’t worry—faculty are being flexible, and we are all here to help. Here’s what you should do:  

  • Check your course Canvas site and syllabus for any content or assignments you may miss. Many faculty will have posted instructions about what to do when you need to miss class.  
  • Contact each of your professors for additional instructions on accessing classes and labs remotely during your isolation period. Faculty will be flexible and will provide various online and make-up options for students who need to miss class.  
  • Email your Academic Support Advisor in the Office of Academic Advising to let them know your situation. They can help if you have trouble contacting your professors. If you are not sure who to email, call the Office of Academic Advising at 508-831-5381.  
  • Consider asking classmates to take especially good notes to share with you and review the notes together virtually. If you don’t know a classmate to contact, ask your professor to help you identify someone.  

If you need disability accommodations, please contact the Office of Accessibility Services at 508-831-4908.  

Additional Resources for Students and Employees During Isolating  

COVID Support  

  • Students can reach out to Student Health Services at 508-831-5520 during normal business hours with questions related to COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Employees should reach out to their health care provider with questions related to COVID-19 symptoms.    

Mental Health Support  

It’s important to take good care of your mental health while you’re in your isolation period. Even if you're alone in your space, you're among many, many people going through a similar experience. Connect virtually with friends and family, go outside (masked) for fresh air, and reach out to WPI services as needed. Check the Be Well Together page for ideas, and remember the Student Development & Counseling Center is always available to help.    

Local Pharmacies  

There are several local pharmacies that can deliver medications and other health supplies, including:  

Close Contact Information

What is a close contact? 

The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 2 days before they have any symptoms or test positive.  

What do I do if I’m a close contact? 

Students and employees who are a close contact will need to follow WPI’s protocols, which are based on the latest CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance.  

Regardless of vaccination status:  

  • Students should contact Student Health Services at 508-831-5520 if you or your roommate are immunocompromised or have a high-risk health condition.  
  • Wear a snug-fitting KN95, KF94, N95 or surgical mask anywhere outside of your room for 10 days after last contact with the COVID positive individual. (Day 0 is the day of your last contact, day 1 is the first full day after your last contact.)  
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you develop symptoms test as soon as possible after symptom onset. 
  • If you have no symptoms, test 5 days after your last exposure to the person who tested positive.   
  • Avoid large crowds  
  • Students may attend classes and activities during this time, and employees may report to work if on-site work is required as long as you wear a mask.  


What should I do if my roommate tests positive for COVID?  
  • Wear a mask as soon as you discover that you were exposed to Covid.  You must wear a mask and take extra precautions around people who may get very sick from COVID for a full 10 days.  You may go to class and participate in other activities as long as you wear a mask. For more information, go to the CDC website
  • If you develop symptoms, test as soon as possible. Testing information is above.
  • If you have no symptoms and are at elevated risk because you have a roommate with COVID, you should test immediately (Day 0). If your test is negative and you remain asymptomatic, test 5 days after your last exposure and wear a mask for 10 days post-exposure.    
  • If you test negative, you may attend classes and activities during this time
  • Do not invite any visitors to your room/suite if your roommate has COVID and is in isolation.
  • Avoid eating in your room as you will need to remove your mask.   
  • Do not share personal items with your infected roommate
  • Regularly disinfect laptops, cell phones, door handles, counters, bathrooms, and any of the common spaces.
  • Wash your hands regularly using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Keep your personal toiletries in safe, clean spaces.   
  • Wash your bedding and towels. 
How do I notify my close contacts after I test positive?  

Students, faculty, and staff are expected to notify their close contacts after they test positive. Notifying others of their potential exposure helps them keep themselves and their loved ones safe. While it might be awkward to make that phone call or send that text, it is the right thing to do and helps protect your friends, colleagues, and their families.  

Think about where you’ve been and who might have been exposed to your germs. Notify anyone you’ve spent time with where you were less than 6 feet apart for 15 minutes or more, going back at least two days before you got tested or started having symptoms through the time you started to isolate.


Does WPI require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID? 

WPI does not require COVID vaccination for students or employees. 

However, we strongly recommend that all community members continue to follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines including booster doses. Vaccination has proven highly effective in lessening the severity of illness, which is extremely important in a community that includes adults of all ages, including faculty and staff with small children and elderly family members at home.   

Where can I get a COVID vaccine or booster if I choose?  

The state’s website provides information on where to get vaccines and boosters, including numerous pharmacies, community health centers, and health care providers in the area; you can search by zip code for locations. You can also check the City of Worcester site for nearby locations.

WPI is hosting our first two on-campus clinics September 5 and 6 from 9 am to 4 pm in the Campus Center Odeum; sign up for an appointment time here 

Three other vaccine clinics will be held October 4, 5, and 6 from 9 am to 4 pm in the Harrington Auditorium Balcony. The new COVID-19 booster is not available yet but we are hoping it will be ready in time for our October vaccine clinics. 

The following local pharmacies usually have vaccines and boosters and are serviced by the WPI SNAP van. Be sure to bring your insurance card. Most insurance should cover the cost of vaccines and boosters but call ahead if you’re not sure. 

  • CVS stores on 400 Park Ave and 44 West Boylston Str., Worcester.  Information is here.  
  • Walgreens at 320 Park Ave, Worcester. Information is here.  
  • Shaws/OSCO Pharmacy at 14 West Boylston Street, Worcester. Information is here.