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What You Need to Know and Do Now:

This webpage provides details, for both students and employees, about isolating while positive, alerting close contacts, managing symptoms, and returning to work or class. It also provides information for quarantining if you're a close contact. Please read it carefully.

Details are in the dropdowns below, but here’s a checklist to help:

  • Isolate yourself—stay home!
  • If you have COVID-related symptoms and have not yet tested positive (or you got a positive test outside of WPI’s testing program), fill out the Symptom Tracker right away. You'll get information on specific steps to take.
  • Tell your close contacts (and remind them to fill out the Symptom Tracker for instructions, too).
  • Make plans for food during isolation.
  • Make academic and/or work arrangements. 
  • Monitor your symptoms.

If at any time you are experiencing concerning symptoms, seek emergency care immediately by calling 911 or, if you are on campus, WPI Campus Police at 508-831-5555

  • 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

Contact Information

Student Health Services: 508-831-5520 
On-call doctor (after hours): 508-334-8830 (tell them you are a WPI student, follow the prompts, a doctor will call you back)
Campus Police: 508-831-5555
On-call public health team: 774-366-6845
Isolation and close contact questions – or

If you tested positive for COVID-19

  • What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

    Students and employees will need to return immediately to their residence and follow all WPI isolation protocols outlined below, which are based on the latest CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance.

    • If you tested in WPI’s on-campus testing system, you will receive an email from asking you to complete the COVID-19 Positive Case Form which asks certain questions to help triage your needs while you start your self-care. 
    • If you tested outside of WPI’s testing system (at home or at a local clinic/pharmacy), you should notify the Health Team via the Symptom Tracker.

    WPI isolation requirements for students and employees include:

    • Isolating for at least 5 full days from your positive result depending on fever and symptom resolution
    • Continuing to isolate past 5 days if you still have symptoms on day 6 or later. (See "How do I clear isolation" below.)
    • Continuing to wear a snug-fitting surgical or KN95 mask for an additional 5 days whenever you are outside of your room or home around others in all settings.

    See additional details in the section below on isolation.

    NOTE: You will be exempt from COVID-19 PCR surveillance testing for 90 days from the date of your positive test. You will need to complete a rapid antigen test if you develop COVID-like symptoms within that 90-day period.

  • What if I have symptoms?

    Most COVID-19 infections are mild in vaccinated individuals, feel similar to typical cold symptoms, and can be managed at home with over-the-counter medications. 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 of 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:

    • 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 telehealth medical care (evenings and weekends) call WPI’s physician line 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 doctor 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 or 911. 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.  

  • What will my test results show and what do I do next?

    Your test results will come via email from Please review the emails carefully and follow instructions provided. You can also log in to directly to check on results.

    Right now the Broad Institute is experiencing very heavy volume, and it is taking longer than usual to get results. It may take 24 to 72 hours. Please be patient.

  • What if I can't get the booster because I tested positive and will miss the January 18 deadline?

    WPI is requiring all students and employees to be fully vaccinated (including with a booster) and upload their documentation by January 18, 2022, or within 30 days of being eligible. Details are here. 

    We know that if you have not yet gotten the booster and you test positive for COVID-19, you will miss the deadline. Fill out the Symptom Tracker when you test positive; this alerts the compliance coordinator about your status.

    You will be required to get the booster when you are eligible; consult your health care provider for advice. In general, most people should wait 10 days or more after having a positive test and symptoms have resolved. 

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.

  • Students: What if my roommate (not I) tested positive?

    If your roommate tests positive and you are currently negative for COVID, follow these steps:

    • If you have no symptoms, test at Harrington Auditorium on your normal schedule, and make sure to test 5 days after your exposure to the person who tested positive. You are welcome to test at Harrington more frequently if you want to.
    • Monitor your symptoms. If you develop symptoms, make an appointment at the rapid test center (in the Hackfeld Parking Lot) for rapid testing and then start isolating until you get a negative result.
    • Avoid large crowds
    • Wear a snug-fitting surgical or KN95 mask anywhere outside of your bedroom
    • Contact Health Services at 508-831-5520 if you or your roommate are immunocompromised or have a high-risk health condition.
  • What if I am a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

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

    If you are vaccinated and boosted, or are vaccinated but not yet eligible for a booster:

    • Wear a snug-fitting surgical or KN95 mask around others for 10 days
    • Test on day 5 after the exposure (or on your regular WPI testing cadence)
    • Students may attend classes and activities during this time, and employees may report to work if on-site work is required
    • Continue to monitor for symptoms and, if symptoms develop, get tested immediately by making an appointment at the testing trailer at the Hackfeld Lot; click here to schedule.  

    If you are unvaccinated, or are eligible for a booster but have not yet gotten one:

    • You must quarantine at home for 5 full days
    • Test on day 5 after your last exposure as a close contact
    • Wear a snug-fitting mask around others for 10 days
    • Continue to monitor for symptoms and if symptoms develop, get tested by making an appointment at the rapid testing trailer in the Hackfeld Lot 
  • How do I notify my close contacts after I test positive?

    Given the expected volume of cases and the speed at which the virus spreads, it is not feasible for the Health Team to manage outreach to close contacts in a reasonable timeframe—and we know from past experience that most close contacts had already been alerted by friends and colleagues before the Health Team called. 

    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.


  • How do I isolate?

    You'll isolate for 5 to 10 days, depending on your symptoms and follow-up testing. All COVID-19 positive on-campus students will isolate in the WPI Townhouses or your private residence except to use the bathroom, pick up food, or go to a medical appointment or COVID test. You may go outside for fresh air as long as you are wearing a snug-fitting mask and keeping physically distanced from others.

    • Wear a high-quality mask (a surgical mask or a KN95; cloth masks are no longer allowed on campus unless paired with a surgical mask or KN95) and keep physically distanced from others whenever you leave your room. Wear a surgical or KN95 mask in any shared spaces in your private residence (such as a shared bathroom).
    • Wash your hands frequently and wipe down shared bathroom and other common surfaces after use.
    • If your bathroom has a fan, turn it on for at least 30 minutes after you use the bathroom.
    • Do not have any friends or family visit you during isolation.
  • Where do I isolate?
    • Employees will isolate in their homes.
    • All COVID-19 positive on-campus students will isolate in the WPI Townhouses.
      • Students who test positive should complete the My Case Form, which will inform further instructions and type of outreach from the Health Team.
    • Students who live within driving distance of campus and who can go home for the isolation period (without putting anyone at home at undue risk) are encouraged to go home to isolate. Please note this on your COVID-19 Positive Case Form so WPI is aware if you leave campus to isolate at home.
  • How do I clear isolation and return to normal activities?

    WPI is following the current CDC guidance regarding a full 5-day isolation period for all students and employees. (Depending on your symptoms and the specifics of your case, isolation could last up to 10 days or longer.) In general, you can clear isolation after 5 full days if you meet all of the following criteria:

    1. You are asymptomatic or your symptoms are much improved; and
    2. You have been fever-free for 24 hours without any fever reducing medication; and 
    3. You complete a COVID-19 Isolation Clearance Form in the My Case platform in the Hub.

    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 surgical or KN95 mask when outside your room and around others
    • Continue to eat your on-campus meals as grab-and-go

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



  • What is the difference between a PCR COVID test and a Rapid Antigen COVID Test?

    PCR (molecular) tests look for genetic material from the virus and are generally more accurate and mostly processed in a laboratory, which takes longer. WPI’s PCR tests are processed by The Broad Institute and the turn around time is anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. Right now the Broad Institute is experiencing very heavy volume, and tests are taking longer. Please be patient. It may take up to 72 hours to get your results.

    PCR tests are very effective at detecting low levels of a virus. Importantly, the threshold at which PCR tests can detect virus is below the level of contagiousness. This means that you may test positive even if you're no longer infectious to other people; this is why you would be exempt from PCR surveillance testing for 90 days after your positive test. 

    Rapid antigen tests look for pieces of viral protein and will test positive only if you have a relatively high viral load. These tests are particularly good at detecting if you have a high enough viral load to infect other people; results are available in about 15 minutes, These tests will not detect low levels of virus the way PCR tests do, but they are pretty good at indicating whether someone is contagious. Once you are no longer infectious, you'll stop testing positive with a rapid antigen test pretty quickly, which is why rapid antigen tests can still be used within 90 days of your positive PCR test.


  • How do I pick up meals during isolation?

    Students on meal plans who are isolating may NOT go to the dining locations; meals will be delivered daily to students staying in the Townhouses, provided by WPI's dining and catering services and public health delivery staff.

    If you are not on a meal plan and you are isolating, first 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).

    If you are experiencing any difficulty obtaining meals, please do not hesitate to contact the Dean of Students Office for help.


  • 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:
    • Do they have presentation materials or notes for the classes you will miss that they can share with you?
    • Can you set up a time to meet with them virtually to review the material covered in the classes you will miss?
    • Do they have a TA or PLA whom you could meet with virtually to review missed class content or assignments?
    • 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?
    • Because you cannot be in class, is there a way for you to demonstrate that you have engaged with the assigned material?
    • 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 Who Are Isolating