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COVID Exposure and Symptomatic Testing

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Here you can review guidance on COVID exposure testing timelines and testing when you develop symptoms.

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COVID Exposure Guidance

If you are exposed to COVID, review the chart below for guidance based on your vaccination status and the type of exposure. Tested positive? Here's detailed guidance on what to do next:

Type of COVID Exposure

Unmasked prolonged face-to-face, high-risk exposure (for example, shared bedrooms, partners, and family, or prolonged face to face exposures)

Other unmasked, lower-risk exposure

Masked exposure

Completed 2 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or other WHO-approved vaccines or one dose of J&J
Boosted (or not yet booster eligible)*

Quarantine and test Day 5 post-exposure, before returning to normal activities.

No period of quarantine. Test immediately and on Day 5 post-exposure.


No period of quarantine. Test if symptoms develop.

Has not completed second does of vaccination
Booster eligible and not yet completed*

Quarantine and test Day 7 post-exposure, before returning to normal activities.

Quarantine and test Day 7 post-exposure, before returning to normal activities.

No period of quarantine.
Test if symptoms develop. 

Infected with COVID in the last 90 days

No period of quarantine. 
Test if symptoms develop.

No period of quarantine. 
Test if symptoms develop.


No period of quarantine. Test if symptoms develop.


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*You are booster eligible: 5 months after the second dose of Pfizer, Moderna, or other WHO-approved vaccines or 2 months after J&J. (If you have recently been infected with COVID, you are eligible for a booster once you have recovered.)

More information on COVID booster shots, here

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Quarantine is used when you have not yet been diagnosed with COVID by a confirmatory test, but have been exposed or have symptoms and we want to prevent exposing others. (Students should quarantine in-place and do not need to request isolation spaces.) 

While quarantining, do not eat inside dining halls, go to class, or to other communal indoor spaces on campus. 

When indoors, you should avoid any unmasked contact with others. 

When outdoors, maintain proper physical distance when unmasked.

Dining Halls
You may go to the dining hall, mask up (KN95 mask preferred), select your meal, and then take your plate outdoors or to your room to eat physically distanced from others. Please return your plate.

If you are severely symptomatic, don’t feel well enough to leave your room, and test negative for COVID-19, reach out to a Resident Director or Graduate Life Office Dean for assistance with meals.

When In Doubt, Get Tested
Note: View high resolution PDF by tapping on graphic. To access an HTML version of this graphic, you may do so here.


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What if I Develop Symptoms?

COVID symptoms most commonly appear within 2-5 days after exposure to the virus. In general, symptoms tend to be less severe in those who have recently received a booster.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Headache 
  • Coughing/chest congestion

If you have symptoms: 

  • Take a COVID test immediately.
    • Rapid antigen tests, self-administered home tests with immediate results, can be very effective in diagnosing COVID in people with symptoms, and a positive rapid test should be treated as a true positive. 
    •  A single negative rapid test does not completely rule out COVID, as it can be a less sensitive test early in the course of infection. That noted, a negative rapid test is reassuring about your chance of being a meaningful infectious risk to others at the time of your test.
    • If you have ongoing symptoms but test negative on a rapid test, you should submit a Color test and if symptoms persist, repeat a second rapid test in 24 hours.

While waiting for your test results

  • Call Vaden Medical Services at 650.498.2336 if you need urgent medical advice.
  • Keep away from others, and wear a mask around roommates, apartment-mates, and family members.
  • Do not go into the dining hall, classes, and indoor gatherings until you meet the criteria below for resuming normal activity.
    • You can still receive grab-and-go meals at the dining halls. 
  • Rest in your room.
  • Request academic support if needed via your Undergraduate Advising Director or, for graduate and professional students, your program's student services staff person, faculty advisor, or director of graduate studies

Please note: You have an increased risk of testing positive for COVID-19 if you have:

  • traveled in the past 10 days. 
  • attended a wedding or other social event. 
  • been to a bar, concert, or other off-campus gatherings. 
  • had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • are NOT boosted.
  • are NOT vaccinated.

You can resume normal activities when: 

  1. You have not had a fever for 48 hours without fever-reducing medication 
  2. AND your symptoms are improving 
  3. AND you have received COVID-negative test results after the onset of symptoms. (Color or rapid antigen tests)
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You can find general advice on managing symptoms here.