Symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, headache, body aches, loss of smell/taste, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, and skin changes.
Anyone can become infected with COVID-19. If you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or have recently traveled to an area of widespread community transmission, you may be at an increased risk.
- Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
- Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Wear a mask while in crowded environments.
- Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist if receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is right for you.
These are important terms and concepts used by medical professionals:
- Close contact means being within six feet of someone for at least 15 minutes OR having direct contact with infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on).
- Physical distancing (social distancing) is for everyone. It means keeping people farther apart to prevent the virus from spreading in communities.
- Isolation is for people who have the virus. It means keeping them separated from people who don’t have it.
Students testing positive for COVID-19 should isolate at their primary place of residence and fill out the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form.
If you are in isolation, you should not attend classes in person and should limit exposure to others outside of isolation. Fill out the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form and contact your professors to find out how they want you to keep up with your coursework.
If you test positive for COVID-19, apply a mask and fill out the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form. Notify any potential people that you may exposed for two days prior to becoming symptomatic/testing positive.
On-campus residents should isolate in their primary residence off-campus. If unable to return to your primary residence, you should isolate in place. Isolating in place means remaining in your room and limiting exposure to others when using the bathroom, seeking medical care, retrieving food on campus, or in the event of an emergency. Anytime you need to leave your room, a well-fitted mask (N95 or KN95) should be worn, including going to the bathroom (masks can be removed while showering and brushing teeth). Disinfectant wipes should be used to wipe down common high touch surfaces in your room and after using the bathroom to maintain a clean community environment.
While isolating in place, you should not participate in any activities outside of your isolation, including visiting others rooms.
According to the CDC you no longer need to quarantine for exposure to COVID-19. However, wear a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95) as soon as you find out you were exposed starting from day 1. Day 1 is the first full day after exposure through day 10. Test at least 5 full days after your last exposure.
The reason to test for COVID is to determine if you are positive (and therefore infectious to others) while remaining without symptoms. Students who would like to be tested for COVID-19 can test using an at-home test or scheduling an appointment with Student Health Center at 610-436-2509. A limited number of free at-home tests are available across campus.
At-home COVID-19 tests can be purchased at local retail stores or pharmacies.
NOTE: The best time to get tested for COVID-19 is 4-7 days after the exposure occurred. It is important to know that a negative test cannot tell you for certain if you are or will become infected. A negative test DOES NOT mean you will not develop infection and become positive following exposure. If you are were exposed, wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days.
There are vaccines available to help build immunity and prevent serious illness. The FDA has authorized antiviral medication to help treat and reduce symptoms of COVID-19 in people that are more likely to be hospitalized. Student Health Services does not stock antiviral medications for COVID-19, but they are available from local pharmacies with a prescription for at-risk individuals.
At this time, students should assume that some restrictions may be in place. Students living on campus will receive an email communication if, at any point, additional safety protocols are necessary, based on CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines.
On-campus residents are should isolate in their primary residence off-campus. If unable to return to your primary residence, you must isolate in place. All positive students should fill out the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form.
Apply a well-fitted mask, preferably KN-95 or N-95. Test 5 days after your roommate tested positive. Day 0 is the day you were exposed. Day 1 is the first full day after exposure. Continue to wear a well-fitted mask through 10 days after being exposed.
Try to limit time in room while your positive roommate is in isolation. Utilize other public spaces like common rooms, Library, etc more frequently while wearing your mask. While in room, all roommates should be wearing a well-fitted mask. If possible, create additional distance between roommates (i.e., sleep in opposite directions (head to toe), have COVID-19 positive roommate sleep on bottom bunk).
Masks should be worn as soon as a roommate tests positive for COVID-19.
An individual with COVID-19 is spreading the virus up to 2 days prior to becoming symptomatic and testing positive. Continue to use good hand hygiene and limit time in room while roommate is isolating in place. Perform hand hygiene and disinfect high touch surfaces more frequently. Try to limit the amount of time spent in the room while your roommate is isolating. Masks are to be worn in the classroom and in common areas. Test for COVID-19 on Day 5 after being exposed. Day 0 is the day you were exposed. Day 1 is the first full day after exposure. Continue wearing a mask through Day 10.
If you are feeling well enough to pick up food, you may retrieve food and bring back to your room. Food can be removed from the dining hall with a container. Reminder that you should be wearing a well-fitted mask and cleaning your hands prior to touching any multi-use utensils. If you are not feeling well enough, designate a person to pick up and drop off food to you. Grub Hub is available for online ordering at applicable locations.
If you are within the 10-day window of testing positive, or have been exposed, you should wear a well-fitted mask. Masking is also recommended when you or your roommate is isolating in place.
Masking is required when visiting Student Health Services if you are sick or have respiratory symptoms.
When meeting with a professor or staff in their office, the professor or staff member may at their discretion require you to wear a mask.
Beyond these exceptions, there is no mask requirement for the general WCU population. The University will communicate changes to the masking guidelines, which all students agreed to follow in the Student Community Agreement.
Dispensers with surgical masks can be found across campus.
In the case of an outbreak, we will work with the PA Department of Health and Chester County Health Department to implement response protocols as required.
Students who would like to be tested for COVID-19 can test using an at-home test or scheduling an appointment with Student Health Center at 610-436-2509.
At-home COVID-19 tests can be purchased at local retail stores or pharmacies.
NOTE: The best timing to get tested for COVID-19 is 4-7 days after the exposure occurred. It is important to know that a negative test cannot tell you for certain if you are or will become infected. A negative test DOES NOT mean you will not develop infection and become positive following exposure. If you have been exposed, wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days.
If you receive a positive test result, you should isolate yourself from others. The University recommends that you also submit the positive test results using the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form. Submit a picture of your at-home test with your WCU ID Number and date written next to the test. If you have been seen by a medical provider, submit documentation of your diagnosis. You will receive confirmation after your request has been processed and validated. This may take a few days for a response. This does not take the place of your notifying your professors of your absence.
Asymptomatic (no symptoms) & Positive Antigen
- Asymptomatic students with positive results on antigen (rapid) tests and no known exposure should isolate.
- Fill out the Student Assistance Request Instructor Notification for Absences Form A Health and Wellness team member will respond regarding your next steps.
- Students who receive a negative PCR confirmatory test no longer need to isolate.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not required, but highly recommended. Students are encouraged to consult Student Health Services, their private medical provider, or local department of health when making decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. The State System of universities do not have the legal authority to mandate COVID vaccines for students.
Individuals interested in receiving the vaccine or boosters may use Vaccines.gov to find a location near them.
Questions for Student Health Services
After consultation with the Chester County Health Department, WCU transitioned to Isolation in Place for on-campus residents that test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to return to their primary residence starting Spring 2023 semester. This is a practice that is frequently in place on college campuses and other communal living environments, including schools in the PASSHE system.
Planning for the possible scenario of getting COVID-19 will help reduce any feelings of panic if it occurs. It can feel helpful to have specific information and items prepared in advance – just in case.
Information to have ready:
- Create a physical and virtual emergency contact list for each person in your living space. Include the names and contact information of important people, such as family members and friends.
- Create a physical and virtual list of your healthcare facilities and providers so you have a plan of who to contact and where you can go to seek help. Know where the closest hospital is and make a plan for how you will get there.
Write down the phone number and digital contact information for Student Health Services and/or your local primary care provider. Also keep this information in a digital space that’s easy to access, such as your phone.
- If you live off-campus, create a plan with those you live with about how you will use your space if someone is sick and in isolation. Consider deciding on a room or space that can be used for isolation, designating a separate bathroom (if available), and making these spaces comfortable. Also, talk about how those who are not in isolation will continue everyday preventive actions, including cleaning shared surfaces.
Items to have ready:
- Make a ready-to-go healthcare kit in case you need to quickly seek emergency medical care. Your kit should include a physical list of the “Information to have ready,” important identification and health insurance cards, any health-related notes (e.g., allergies, prescription medications), in addition to a few essentials (e.g., a toothbrush, tissues, hand sanitizer, masks, water bottle, phone charger, and snacks).
- Aim to have several weeks of any prescription medication.
- Plan to have several weeks of medication to help relieve COVID-19 symptoms, including cough medicine and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Also have a thermometer to help monitor your symptoms.
- Consider having a few extra non-perishable food items and hygiene supplies in case you cannot go to the store.
- Have at-home COVID-19 tests available.
- Additionally, you can request to receive free COVID-19 test at COVID.gov/tests. These are shipped via USPS and can take several weeks to receive. Private commercial insurance may cover or reimburse for the purchase of at-home tests to have on hand.