Frequently Asked Questions


Are masks required on campus?
  • Face coverings are required in healthcare settings but are optional in all other indoor and outdoor spaces on campus.  
  • We ask that everyone have a mask with them when on campus and respect others' requests for masking. 
  • We strongly encourage high-quality masks (such as N95s, KN95s and KF94s) when indoors in crowded settings to reduce the risk of transmission, especially if local COVID-19 transmission risks are medium or high.  

  • 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.  

Are face coverings required in Worcester?

The City of Worcester is tracking COVID, flu, and an uncharacteristic rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and issued an advisory urging everyone to take precautions, including wearing masks. Masks are required in all healthcare settings. The advisory includes details about free public vaccination clinics as well. 


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 isolate, test themselves with a rapid test, and wear a well fitting KN95, KF94, N95 or surgical mask anytime they must be around others.  See a list of symptoms here. Please review Massachusetts Department of Public Health precautions here.    

Even if you test negative for COVID-19, 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.  

​Can I travel if I test positive for COVID?

Students, faculty, and staff who are traveling domestically or internationally travel (whether personal travel or WPI-sponsored travel) are expected to follow CDC travel guidelines:

  • If you are COVID-positive, do not travel during your 5-day isolation period.
  • After your 5-day isolation period is over, you may travel but must wear a well fitted, high-quality mask when doing so.


Do I need to test when returning to campus after traveling?

We ask that you test twice after traveling: 5 days after travel, and 24 hours before returning to campus.

  • If you test positive, please complete the Positive Case Form and follow the instructions.

We also ask that you wear a well fitted, high-quality mask for 5 days after travel.


When should I test for COVID?

WPI is not currently requiring routine weekly surveillance testing.  Instead, the university can provide four 2-pack test kits (a total of 8 tests) for students and two kits (four tests) for employees per semester. You should test if you: 

Instead, 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.

How do I get a COVID test?

If you have symptoms or you have been a close contact of someone who is positive, you can get a rapid antigen test kit via four new vending machines installed on campus for 24/7 access, once you have filled out your consent form

Machines are located at:

  • Campus Center, in the main lobby
  • Morgan Wedge, near the main entrance
  • Unity Hall, fifth floor across from the elevators
  • South Village Student Center, bottom floor near the elevators

The machines are simple and easy to use:

  • Fill out the consent form before using the machine.
  • Swipe your WPI ID card at the machine. Take one test kit at a time; each test kit contains two tests.
  • Students can get up to five dual-test kits (ten tests total) per semester/A-B Term.
  • Employees can get up to three dual-test kits (six tests total) per semester/A-B Term.

You can also buy tests at area pharmacies or online.

Contact the with questions. 

The iHealth COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit from the vending machine shows an expiration date that has passed. Can I still use it?

Yes. The expiration dates located on the back of the test kits have been extended by the FDA. You can verify the expiration date of your kit here:

The Health Team is carefully tracking our inventory to be sure we are providing accurate and safe care for our community.

What types of COVID testing does WPI offer?  

 WPI provides individual rapid antigen tests for students and employees. Rapid antigen tests are used to detect the presence of a COVID protein in people with and without symptoms. Sampling is done by a nasal swab and results are available within 15 minutes.  

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, which are based on the latest CDC and  Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

  • Report your test: Fill out the Positive Case Form--which replaces the old Symptom Tracker app--right away. You will then be given automated instructions on how to isolate, how to inform close contacts, and how to access support services on campus if needed.  

    • The Public Health Team will initiate outreach to students based on the information provided on the Positive Case Form. 

  • Isolate: See information below. 

NOTE: The old Symptom Tracker app has been discontinued. Use the Positive Case Form instead when you need to report your test. 

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.  

Any time you have a positive test, please fill out the Positive Case Form 


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 isolation requirements for students and employees 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 past 5 days if you have not been fever free for 24 hours or other symptoms have not 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; cloth masks are not allowed on campus unless paired with a surgical mask or KN95) and 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 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. 

Leave Isolation     

Fill out the isolation clearance form

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, faculty, and staff will need to arrange their own isolation and quarantine space. Once you test positive for COVID-19 on or off campus, you need to notify the University using the Positive Case Form and include your plan for isolation. 

Employees should isolate at home. Options for student isolation include: 

  1. Isolate in place (i.e., your room/apartment) on or off campus. This means you may need to isolate with your roommate(s) present.  

  2. Isolate at home or other private off campus space (your permanent residence, or 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 are expected to isolate in their own room. Students may not visit others, spend time in common areas other than bathrooms, or have guests (i.e., you should not be socializing if you are isolating). 

  • Students may leave their room wearing a mask to go to medical appointments or pick up food (see FAQ below about meals). 

  • We realize that you will not always be able to wear a mask or keep physically distanced from your roommate(s) in your bedroom; please do your best to mask and avoid close contact with your roommate(s) to the greatest extent possible. 

  • Students who are isolating are expected to wear a mask in any shared indoor spaces such as a residence hall floor bathroom. Please use common sense; if you need to remove your mask when in a common bathroom (to brush your teeth or shower, for example), do so quickly while staying as distanced from others as possible. 

  • Students with suite bathrooms are encouraged to work directly with their roommates to determine a system of shared use during isolation.

  • COVID-positive students who need a mask can pick up a KN95 or N95 mask at the food pick up locations in the Park Avenue garage or Townhouse during operational hours. 

Students who have significant concerns about your options for isolation or have a roommate with a high-risk medical condition should reach out to the public health team at during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm) to see if there is an option to isolate in our limited isolation space on campus, which is reserved for high-needs students.  

How do I clear isolation and 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; and 

  • You have filled out the isolation clearance form.   

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 KN95, KF94, N95 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 for further instructions.  

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

What about my classes while I’m in isolation?

First, check the syllabus for each course; faculty were asked to include information about how to access courses and material remotely (i.e., via lecture capture, Zoom, etc.) if needed. Contact your faculty members to let them know you are unable to come to class or lab and discuss a plan for keeping up with the work. If you need help, contact Academic Advising or, if you need accommodations, contact the Office of Accessibility Services. Both offices are happy to help.

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, 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 may NOT go to the campus dining locations during their isolation.; Once you complete the Positive Case Form, you will receive an email with information on how to pick-up meals during normal business hours. If you test positive after hours or on a weekend, please arrange for your own meal delivery.

  • If you’re in isolation, use the GET Mobile app to order from a selection of meals for pick up Monday through Friday during the hours below.

    • Download the app from the Apple or Android app store onto your phone.

    • On the app, search for Worcester Polytechnic Institute, (not WPI) and use your WPI log in-in credentials.

    • Order meals between 7 to 10 am or 1 to 3 pm Monday through Friday and select your pick up location. On Fridays, be sure to order enough meals for the weekend as well. 

    • The health team will have your boxed meals available at your pick up location from 11 am to 1 pm and 4 to 5 pm each day. Locations are Townhouse unit 85-8 and inside the Park Avenue garage (see map below). Please wear a mask when picking up meals. 

  • If you are not on a meal plan, you will need to use Goat Bucks to order through the GET app. You can also ask friends and family members to drop off food and supplies, or order food and supplies for delivery to your residence (main lobby, front door, or individual apartment if in a townhouse style apartment) through DoorDash or other services.

  • If you are experiencing any difficulty obtaining meals, please do not hesitate to contact WPI’s public health team ( for help during normal business hours.  

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

We fully expect we’ll have many students unable to attend class due to illness or 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.  

  • Here are some questions you might want to ask faculty and instructors:  

  1. Do they have presentation materials or notes for the classes you will miss that they can share with you?  
  2. Can you set up a time to meet with them virtually to review the material covered in the classes you will miss?  
  3. Do they have a TA or PLA whom you could meet with virtually to review missed class content or assignments?  
  4. If you need to miss a required project, quiz, lab, or exam, is there a way to do a make-up or otherwise complete the assignment?  
  5. Because you cannot be in class, is there a way for you to demonstrate that you have engaged with the assigned material?  
  6. Do they suggest any readings or activities to supplement the learning you would have acquired through class preparation and homework?  

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  

  • The Public Health Team is available to provide COVID-19 support for students and employees on an individual basis if needed. Contact the Public Health Team by emailing or completing the Positive Case Form.   

  • 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 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 (last day you were with your roommate while they were in isolation), Day 1 is the first full day after your last contact. 
  • 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? 

Yes. Vaccination provides the best protection against severe illness from COVID and provides the best chance for our community to participate in the daily activities that are so critical to college life.  

WPI requires all students and employees coming to campus to be up to date (completed the initial one or two shot series plus one booster dose) with COVID vaccines or have an approved Medical or Religious Exemption on File.  


  • All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in on-campus classes and/or conducting research in on-campus labs, whether they live on campus or off, are required to be up to date with their COVID vaccination, including one booster dose.  

  • As with our other vaccination requirements, there is a process for students to submit a request for a medical or religious exemption via the Student Vaccination Exemption form.   

  • WPI will offer support and guidance to our international students who may have difficulty accessing vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. International students can contact Student Health Services for additional support by calling 508-831-5520 during normal business hours.  


  • All WPI employees, including faculty and staff who are classified as fully remote and new hires, are required to be up to date on their COVID vaccination, including a booster dose.  

  • Requests for a disability/medical or a religious accommodation must be submitted through the Division of Talent & Inclusion by completing this form. Requests for disability/medical accommodations require medical documentation.  

Can I request an exemption from WPI’s COVID vaccination requirement?   

WPI is only providing approved disability/medical or religious exemptions to the COVID vaccination requirement. WPI will not grant exemptions or accommodations for philosophical reasons. To receive an exemption, you must share proof that a disability or medical condition prevents you from receiving the COVID vaccine, or demonstration a sincerely held religious objection to the vaccine.

As with our other vaccination requirements, there is a process for students to submit a request for a medical or religious exemption via the Student Vaccination Exemption form. 

Employees can submit a request through the Division of Talent & Inclusion by completing this form. 

Where can I get a COVID vaccine or booster?  

The state’s website provides information on where to get the vaccine 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.

The following local pharmacies have bivalent boosters, seasonal flu shots, and other vaccines and are serviced by the WPI SNAP van. Be sure to bring your insurance card. Most insurance should cover the cost of the booster 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.  
What is the bivalent booster and should I get it?

The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron BA.5 variant. This is called a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine and is designed to give you broad protection against the COVID-19 virus including the most common Omicron variants. 

Immunity to COVID naturally decreases over time, whether from having a past Covid-19 infection or a COVID vaccine. Viruses also change and evolve into variants such as Omicron 4 and 5.  Thus, protection for vaccination or infection wanes over time. Even so, COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to help protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. To increase your protection, we strongly recommend getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster.  

More information on the bivalent vaccines approved in the USA can be found here.   

I heard COVID will be bad this winter. Should I wait to get my booster until COVID cases begin to surge? 

Not necessarily. There are many factors to consider when planning your next COVID-19 booster such as how long it has been since your last COVID vaccine or COVID infection, case rates and projections in your community, upcoming travel plans, etc. It is certainly advisable to get the booster as soon as it is recommended for you (see below).  The CDC has said that it takes two weeks for vaccination to reach its full effect.   

When should I get the bivalent booster? 

Following are two recommendations that can help you decide; please select the one that meets your health needs.   

  • Per CDC guidelines, you can receive the bivalent booster as soon as you recover from the symptoms of a COVID infection and up to three months post infection.  The CDC also recommends waiting two months after you have received your last COVID vaccination.  

  • Other infectious disease experts recommend a more prolonged vaccination schedule, as in the chart below. This recommendation is based on the body’s response to immunization.  If an individual receives a vaccine shortly after infection or vaccination, it is likely that there will be a less vigorous immune response than waiting for natural immunity to begin to wane and then boosting it with a vaccination. 

<2-3 months since infection/vaccination 

Wait to get bivalent booster 

3-4 months since infection/vaccination  

Get bivalent booster if you are in a high-risk population or are attending an event 

4-6 months since infection/vaccination 

Get the bivalent booster 

6+ months since infection/vaccination 

Get the bivalent booster 

Can I get a flu shot at the same time as my COVID booster?  

Yes. You can get the flu vaccine and a coronavirus vaccine or booster at the same time.