Contact Tracing and Quarantine in Campus Housing

Page last updated Aug. 20, 2021


Along with vaccination and testing, contact tracing and quarantine are key tools to limit the spread of COVID-19. On this page, you’ll find details on what to expect from these processes as a resident of campus housing.

Residents are required to adhere to these measures in order to comply with City of Berkeley public health orders, the Student Code of Conduct and your housing contract.

Contact Tracing

  • If you test positive, a member of the University Health Services (UHS) COVID-19 Response Team will call youPlease take the call. (Be aware that the phone number may be unlisted. Text messaging is not available.) If you (or a family member, if living in University Village family student housing) test positive at a test site other than UHS, please notify UHS of your diagnosis as soon as possible.

  • The UHS team member will alert you to your positive diagnosis, provide you with direction and support on isolation/quarantine, provide consultation and appointments for ongoing medical care, and gather information about your recent close contacts, in order to notify others that may have been exposed.

  • The information you provide is confidential, and will only be used for contact tracing purposes. Your name and COVID-19 status will not be shared with close contacts, nor will it be used for disciplinary purposes.

  • Contact tracers will then follow up with your close contacts to provide them with guidance on testing and care.

  • A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, whether indoor or outdoor. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. A person is still considered a close contact even if they were wearing a mask while they were around someone with COVID-19.

  • If you live in campus housing, your roommate(s) or apartment-mates would be considered close contacts. Other close contacts may be identified during the interview with the contact tracer.

Next Steps After Contact Tracing

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, the UHS COVID Response Team will contact you and ask you to move to UC Berkeley’s dedicated isolation housing space, regardless of your vaccination status (see below for more information on this housing space).

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19:

    • Please contact the UHS COVID Response Team by either calling (510) 642-2000, option 1 or send a message through eTang to the COVID Response Team so that they can assess your risk and guide next steps.

    • You should get tested ASAP: self-schedule a symptomatic test on eTang reporting symptoms and let the staff at the UHS testing site know that you live in campus housing when you arrive. If you live in University Village family student housing, if a family member has symptoms, please have them get tested at either UHS (which offers free symptomatic testing for UVA residents) or contact your medical provider as soon as possible; please also contact the UHS COVID Response Team at (510) 642-2000, option 1.

    • You will be instructed to isolate until test results become available: if not the same day, you may be asked to move to our dedicated isolation space. In most cases, you will be released from isolation after a negative PCR test result. 

  • Close contacts:

    • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are vaccinated with no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine. You will be asked to wear face coverings in all settings, self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and get tested 3-5 days after exposure.

    • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are unvaccinated, you will be asked to move to our dedicated quarantine housing space. You will also be tested 3-5 days after exposure.

Dedicated Isolation/Quarantine Space

UC Berkeley operates a dedicated housing area just for residents of campus housing who require isolation (because they have tested positive for COVID-19) or quarantine (because they may possibly have COVID-19). If you test positive for COVID-19, if you have symptoms, or if you have been flagged as a close contact, we strongly recommend against returning to your family/home, where you could risk spreading infection to others. 

If you stay in our dedicated isolation and quarantine housing, Isolation Coordinators will provide you with support, arrange for you to get meals and assist with your health and wellness needs.  UC Berkeley will coordinate move-in, move-out, transportation, cleaning, food service, and other logistics for you during this time. Medical and mental health support are available as needed 7 days per week through UHS, both by telephone/Zoom and in-person. 

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (both those who are sick with COVID-19 and those without symptoms) from people who are not infected.  Isolation for COVID-19 generally lasts for no more than 10 days, requiring in addition that you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and have improvement in any symptoms. Exceptions may apply when someone is seriously ill or has serious underlying medical conditions. The UHS COVID-19 Response Team will inform you when you can return to your campus housing.

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been infected with COVID-19 away from others. As noted above, if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are vaccinated with no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine. However, if you are unvaccinated and are a close contact, you will be asked to move to our dedicated isolation/quarantine housing space -- regardless of whether you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Quarantine for COVID-19 generally lasts for 14 days from your last contact with the person with COVID-19, independent of test results — in other words, you still have to quarantine even if you test negative. Although a negative test result can provide some reassurance, current evidence shows that you need to wait the full two weeks before you can consider yourself “in the clear.” The UHS COVID-19 Response Team will inform you when you no longer need to be in quarantine.

For University Village residents: You will have the option to isolate/quarantine in your own apartment, or in one of our isolation/quarantine spaces. 

Where to go for information and help

  • Call the 24/7 UHS Advice Line at (510) 643-7197 if you are ill and are unsure if you need to be seen.

  • Please see UHS testing information. If you can’t find what you need, please email telltang@berkeley.edu

  • If you haven’t done so already, please activate exposure notifications on your phone using CA Notify. It’s available for both iOS and Android and is built with the highest degrees of privacy in mind. 

We are all in this together

Please know that our dedicated staff from UHS, Cal Housing, Cal Dining, and Residential Life are here to support you. You are not alone. If you need to move to isolation or quarantine housing, our team will be there to support you every step of the way. By participating in contact tracing, and moving to quarantine or isolation housing if directed to do so, you are protecting your fellow students and our community, and caring for one another.