Quarantine and Isolation

UC Santa Cruz students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 on a laboratory test or home test, and those who are close contacts to cases (within 6’ for at least 15 minutes) will follow the isolation and quarantine instructions below. These instructions are consistent with the current California Department of Public Health and Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency guidance.

Testing information is available on the Student Health Center website for students and for employees.

Do not wait to be contacted by the Student Health Center to begin isolation or quarantine. Depending on the daily case and close contact volume, you may not be contacted.

Isolation and Quarantine Definitions

  • Isolation: separates people infected with a contagious disease from those who are not infected.
  • Quarantine: restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease in case they become infected.

Isolation and quarantine are proven public health interventions fundamental to reducing COVID-19 transmission. Isolation and quarantine processes are in place to slow the spread of the virus.

Release from Isolation or Quarantine

Employees and off-campus students who have met the criteria to be released from isolation or quarantine may self-clear. You do not need to send in proof of a negative test, and you do not need to wait to be contacted by the Student Health Center for release or to return to campus.

Residential students in campus-provided isolation or quarantine housing will be notified by the Quarantine Coordinator when they can end their time in isolation.

Isolation Instructions (I am COVID-19 positive, what do I do?)

If you test positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination or symptom status), isolate for at least 5-10 days. To calculate your 5-10 day isolation period, day 0 is the day your positive test was taken. You can leave isolation on day 6 if:

  1. Symptoms are not present or are resolving and a diagnostic test (rapid antigen test) collected on day 5 or later tests negative. If the test results positive on day 5 or later, complete the full 10 days of isolation.
  2. If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present or are resolving, isolation can end on day 11.
  3. You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).
  4. You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for a total of 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.

Notification of Close Contacts That They Were Exposed to COVID-19

Inform others who you have been around in the two days before your symptoms started - or two days from before your positive test result if you have no symptoms - that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those who are UCSC students or employees should follow exposure instructions below.

Quarantine Instructions (I was exposed to someone with COVID-19, what do I do)

If you are boosted OR vaccinated, but not yet booster eligible*:

  • You do not need to quarantine.
  • Test on day 5.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days, especially while in indoor settings.
  • If testing positive, follow isolation recommendations above.
  • If symptoms develop, test and stay home.

If you are unvaccinated OR vaccinated and booster eligible* but have not yet received your booster dose OR you previously had COVID-19 within the past 90 days

  • Stay home for at least 5 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Test on day 5.
  • Quarantine can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present and you have a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test collected on day 5 or later. PCR or antigen testing is recommended for this clearance testing.
  • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for a total of 10 days, especially while in indoor settings.
  • If testing positive, follow isolation recommendations above.
  • If symptoms develop, test and stay home.

*Booster eligible: You are considered booster eligible if:

  • It has been five months since your second dose of Moderna.
  • It has been five months since your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • It has been two months after your single dose of Johnson and Johnson.
  • For students who have received a WHO approved vaccine, contact the Student Health Services COVID team by logging into Health e-Messenger –> Messages –> New Message –> COVID-19 Questions.
  • It has been five months after getting all recommended doses of a mix-and-match series of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO emergency use listing COVID-19 vaccine.

Household Rule: if you are an asymptomatic close contact and live with a COVID positive person and are sharing a bathroom, kitchen or other living space with them, your date of last exposure is the last day of the positive case’s isolation period.