Quarantine and Isolation

Page updated August 10, 2020.

Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease by separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others to reduce the potential risk of transmission.

Quarantine is different than isolation, which is used when someone has actually tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation is used to keep someone known to be contagious away from others.

When to quarantine

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign requires students, faculty and staff to quarantine in specific situations:

Close contact with a positive case

When a public health department determines that an individual has come into close contact/exposure with a positive case, they will place the close contact into quarantine for 14 calendar days from the last date of close contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

International Travel and Arrival from Abroad

The University instructs all students, faculty, and staff who have traveled internationally to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) guidelines for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. If you enter the United States from another country, the CDC requires that you self-quarantine for 14 days following these CDC guidelines and the university recommends you monitor your health using this handout. The requirement to self-quarantine applies to anyone who has traveled outside the U.S. and has nothing to do with the reason for travel or who has traveled.

Note About Domestic Travel
The State of Illinois is not currently requiring self-quarantining following domestic travel, although this may change and all students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to check the latest guidance before travel.

Guidance for quarantine

If you need to quarantine, you must restrict activities and limit all movements that may put you in contact with others during the quarantine period. Individuals who need to quarantine should adhere to the following guidance from public health officials:

Stay Home

Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.

Do not go to work, school or public areas. Do not use public transportation, ride shares or taxis.

Monitor your health and symptoms

Monitor your body temperature and record the results and time taken.

IMMEDIATELY seek medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Separate yourself

If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. Do not allow visitors into your home.

Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. It is very important to stay away from people who are at higher risk of serious illness. This includes people who are age 65 years and older, pregnant or have a health problem such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic disease or a weak immune system. Consider different living arrangements for these high-risk people if possible.

Use a separate bathroom. If not possible, clean after use.

Wear a cloth face covering if you must go around others in the home. Try to stay at least six feet away from others, and avoid caring for children if possible.

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. 

Regularly clean and disinfect

Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces every day. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tables, and bedside tables. Also, clean and disinfect any surfaces that may have body fluids on them. Follow label instructions for household cleaning and disinfectant sprays or wipes used to ensure effectiveness.

Do not share household items

Do not prepare or serve food to others.

Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.

After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. 

Wear a face covering

Do not go out in public unless there is an emergency or you are seeking medical care. If you have to leave, wear a face covering. 

Cover coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Have food/groceries delivered

There are a number of services that offer food or grocery delivery. Please note for the driver to leave the food outside of your door.

Employee Obligations During Quarantine

Faculty and staff who are required to quarantine and who can work remotely are expected to continue to work since they are not ill, just potentially exposed to the virus. Faculty and staff who are required to quarantine must do the following:

  1. Notify the university that you are required to quarantine and when your quarantine period ends. You must also notify your supervisor that you are required to remain in quarantine and when your quarantine period ends. Additionally, discuss with your supervisor how you can receive any needed equipment to facilitate remote work. Delivery of this must happen in a way in which there is no contact with you.
  2. Be compliant with quarantine restrictions to stay at home. Do not come to campus. Do not go out in the community unless seeking medical treatment. Have groceries or food delivered to your home in a manner that avoids contact with the delivery person.
  3. Monitor your health daily and consult with your medical provider if you develop symptoms.
  4. Continue to work remotely, if your job duties allow. Keep your supervisor informed about work assignments and other routine matters. 
  5. If you should become ill prior to the end of your quarantine period, you should also inform your supervisor of that change. If you are too ill to work remotely (if your duties allow for remote work), you will then need to utilize your available sick leave benefits.

Guidance for isolation

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to isolate. Individuals who need to isolate must adhere to the following guidelines from public health officials:

Monitor your symptoms

Seek medical attention if your illness is worsening. Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a face covering before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.

If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek immediate medical care:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

If you need immediate medical attention

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or may have COVID-19. If possible, put on a face covering before emergency medical services arrive.

Manage your symptoms

Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. You can take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen to help you feel better.

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available. Additional guidance for persons who are helping to take care of you at home is available.

Animals: Do not handle pets or other animals while sick or if you have tested positive for COVID-19. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a face covering and social distance

You should wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth if you are not able to physically separate yourself from other people and pets. Stay at least six feet away from others as much as possible.

Clean your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product. See Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who will coordinate contact tracing efforts for students, faculty and staff in Champaign County?

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District coordinates contact tracing efforts within Champaign County. All students, faculty and staff who are contacted by CUPHD are expected to cooperate with their efforts. For contact tracing, CUPHD will contact individuals by phone from their official number, 312-777-1999.

Do I have to quarantine if I fly through O’Hare International Airport?

The university does not have any quarantine requirements for individuals traveling here from within the United States. If the state or federal government establishes any new quarantine requirements for domestic travelers that information will be updated on this website. According to the Chicago order FAQ found online: “The Order does not apply to individuals changing planes at a Chicago airport, changing trains at a Chicago station, or traveling directly to a suburban municipality or otherwise out of the city limits. However, all individuals are expected to follow the latest public health guidance for Chicago while in the city, including in the airport terminals and railroad stations. This includes the mandate that individuals over the age of 2 wear masks or face coverings at all times.”

How are work and pay handled during the quarantine period?

Faculty and staff who are required to quarantine and who can work remotely are expected to continue to work since they are not ill, just potentially exposed to the virus. 

Units should consider whether there is online training or other work employees can complete for those whose regular work duties cannot be performed remotely. 

I am student arriving from abroad. Where will I self-quarantine?

Students living in University Housing will have access quarantining accommodation from early August. All others should contact their specific housing location and CUPHD.

University Housing website has specific information for students living in the residence halls or university owned apartment. If your arrival date is prior to August 16, you will coordinate early arrive with University Housing in advance. If you are arriving on or after August 16, residents can indicate at check in that you have travel from outside the US in the past 14 days. Check in detailed information has been sent to your @illinois.edu email address.

Do I need to arrive early to self-quarantine?

We recommend that you are able to complete your 14-day self-quarantine before the start of any in-person classes you may have. If you will not be able to, you should communicate with your individual professors that you will not be able to attend in person until you have completed your self-quarantine.

What COVID-19 testing will occur during the self-quarantine?

Free On-Campus COVID-19 testing is available to all students, faculty, and staff, but an iCard is required. For students in self-quarantine, you are expected to test as soon as you arrive on campus and continue testing on a regular basis as indicated by the university. Students will go to a testing location with their mask on and maintaining social distance from other people. Students can also access medical services and should contact McKinley Health Center (217-333-2700) for details.


Additional Resources


Quarantine updates