Students: What to do if you test positive

This information is primarily intended to answer some frequent questions and topics related to COVID-19 from students.

Last updated 9/7/23.


What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 share some of the same symptoms as colds, mono, flu, and seasonal allergies. Some people have very mild symptoms or none at all. Symptoms can start 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and might include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever (100.4 °F or higher)
  • Chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you develop any symptoms that could be due to COVID-19, wear a mask, stay out of public spaces as much as possible and take a COVID test.  

Most symptoms of COVID-19 can be managed with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), rest, and fluids, but some people experience severe symptoms. If you or someone you are supporting is experiencing severe symptoms (for instance trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale/gray/blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone), call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.



How do I get tested if I have symptoms?

Take an at-home COVID-19 test (also called a rapid test or antigen test). There are some available at the front desk in the Student Health Services clinic, while supplies last.

Please remember to stay home and away from others until you get definitive test results. If you must be around others, wear a well-fitting mask until you get your results.


Most at-home tests are rapid antigen tests that detect current infection by checking for a protein produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Rapid tests are available online or in pharmacies and retail stores. While supplies last, these tests are available at the front desk of Student Health Services. Remember that different tests have different directions, so make sure you read and follow the directions that come with your test. 


Positive Test Results and Isolation

What should I do if my test is positive?

Isolate as soon as you receive your positive test result even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations or never have symptoms. Stay home and away from others. Wear a mask at all times when you are around others and stay at least 6 feet from others as much as you possibly can.

Inform Student Health Services. Use the following form to report your positive test results.

If you are a Larner College of Medicine student please make sure you are logged into your account to complete the form. 

Report positive test results here

  • Since you cannot attend in-person classes during isolation, Student Health will notify your dean’s office and your professors will be informed of your need for academic flexibility for attending in-person classes.

Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, call 911 or seek emergency care immediately.

Let people with whom you have been in close contact know you have COVID so they can monitor themselves for symptoms.

Contact Student Health Services as soon as possible if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You are more likely to get more severe symptoms due to an underlying medical condition. Possible treatment may be available for you.
  • You have questions about your isolation.

What should I do if my COVID-19 home antigen test is negative but I have symptoms?

Initial rapid antigen tests can come back negative even though you have COVID-19. If you know you have been exposed or are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please wear a mask, take car of yourself and test for COVID-19 every 48 hours. Once 3 tests have been negative, you most likely did not have COVID-19 and more likely had a cold.

Do I need to isolate if I test positive and am fully vaccinated? What does this look like and how long does it last?

Yes. Even if you are fully vaccinated, if you test positive for COVID-19 you must isolate. Isolation means staying out of public and away from other people as much as possible. This means you cannot attend in-person classes, labs, or work. 

If you live on campus and your permanent residence is within driving distance and no one there is at risk of severe COVID, we strongly encourage you to go to your permanent residence to isolate.

If you test positive you must isolate for at least 5 days from the date of your positive test or the start of your symptoms, whichever is earlier. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can end your isolation but you must wear a well-fitted mask for an additional 5 days whenever you are in public or around others.

If you continue to have significant or worsening symptoms beyond 5 days, continue to isolate until your symptoms are improving and you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.

If you had moderate illness, meaning you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing, or severe illness and were hospitalized due to COVID-19 or you have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10. Please contact Student Health Services for additional support.

If you have questions regarding your isolation timeline or are a healthcare worker, please contact Student Health Services.

What are the requirements for isolating if I live off campus?

  • If you live with roommates you should only leave your room for food, to use the bathroom or to go to medical appointments.
  • You must wear a well-fitting mask whenever you leave your apartment or room.
  • If you live with any roommates, we encourage you and your roommates to wear masks while awake and stay physically distant as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces as much as possible.
  • Do not share household items.

What should I do if I live on campus, tested positive for COVID-19, and need to recover in my room?

Omicron’s increased transmissibility and decreased severity among those who are vaccinated and boosted have rendered separate isolation housing an ineffective strategy for dealing with COVID-19 on campus. In response, UVM and many other universities and colleges have implemented an in-room recovery protocol for residential students who test positive for COVID-19. In-room recovery means:

  • Only leave your room to pick up food (please eat in your room), to use the bathroom or to go to medical appointments.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask whenever you leave your room. If you have a roommate, wear a mask at all times while you are awake, unless you are eating or engaging in another activity that requires your face to be uncovered. If you and your roommates both test positive for COVID-19, you can go unmasked in your room but must still wear a well-fitting mask anytime you leave your room.
  • Stay physically distanced from your roommates as much as possible.
  • Pick up meals to go or have a friend pick up meals for you. Meals should be taken back to your room to be eaten. Do not eat in the dining hall or any other public area.
  • You can go outside to get fresh air or go for a walk as long as you remain physically distanced from others and wear a mask.
  • Do not do laundry yourself. If you need laundry done ask a friend to do it for you.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.
  • Do not share household items.

How do I access meals if I am recovering in my room?

You may pick up a meal to go from retail or traditional dining hall using EcoWare to bring back to your room or to eat outside. Well-fitting mask must be worn at all times while inside.

If you are too sick to go to a dining facility you can authorize a friend to use your meal plan to pick up a meal for you by completing the meal plan access authorization form. Meals can be picked up from Central Campus Dining Hall, Harris Millis Dining Hall, Redstone Dining, Northside Dining, The Marketplace, and the University Marche. Your meal plan will be charged accordingly. The meal plan access authorization form can also be used to take disposable to-go meals from the dining hall if you do not have EcoWare.



What do I do if my roommate/housemate tested positive?

  • Wear a high-quality mask for ten days after exposure and get tested five days after exposure. If you live on campus, wear a well-fitting mask at all times while awake and whenever you are in the same space as the roommate who has COVID-19. If you live off campus, wear a mask whenever you are in the same space as the person who tested positive.
  • Stay physically distanced from the roommate who has COVID-19 as much as possible.
  • As long as you do not develop symptoms, you can go about your daily life as normal. It is fine to go to class, work, and eat in the dining halls but please wear a mask in public.

What if I am exposed?

You do not need to quarantine but do need to do a few things for the 10 days following your exposure:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from exposure to reduce the chance of spreading virus. 
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested.
  • Test 5 full days after exposure with an at-home antigen test. If you receive a negative result, test again 48 hours later, then 48 hours after the second negative test, for a total of 3 tests. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Student Health Services.



High-quality masks are available online or in pharmacies and retail stores. Students and employees may pick up a pack of two KN-95 masks at the Davis Center information desk while supplies last.