Answering students’ questions about close contacts, quarantine, and isolation at UNC


We know pandemic protocols have become complicated, and we also know y’all have a lot of questions. Here’s an overview of the Contact Tracing process, guidelines for close contacts, and links to the quarantine and isolation guidance.

Contact Tracing Process

  1. POSITIVE TEST: It all starts when someone tests positive for COVID-19.
  2. CONTACT TRACING INITIAL CONVERSATION: Contact tracers reach out to the person who tested positive to determine who in their circle was a potential close contact. The positive person’s name and information remains confidential.
    • WHO COUNTS AS A CLOSE CONTACT? A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes cumulative time, regardless of whether a face mask was worn by either party. If you are not contacted or if a positive case is not in your household, then you are not identified as a close contact. For example, people who are at least six feet apart in a classroom or group setting will typically not be considered a close contact. 
  3. OUTREACH TO CLOSE CONTACTS: The contact tracing team will reach out to individuals who are potential close contacts and advise on next steps based on that individual’s specific situation.

Next steps: General Guidelines for Close Contacts

Remember, contact tracers will advise on next steps based on that individual’s specific situation. Here is general guidance:

Aysmptomatic close contacts can be tested at the Carolina Together Testing Program based on the timing in the chart above.

Any symptomatic close contacts should be tested at Campus Health as soon as symptoms arise.

If you test positive, notify Campus Health and follow isolation instructions.

As a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community, you are required to comply with the COVID-19 Community Standards which include reporting a positive test, participating in COVID-19 contact tracing, and taking appropriate follow-up steps as directed by health officials such as entering quarantine or isolation or taking a COVID-19 test.

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