Quarantine and isolation requirements are based on scientific literature, guidance from the CDC and St. Louis County Department of Public Health, and internal data from BJC HealthCare and the university. Requirements are reassessed periodically.

Quarantine vs. Isolation: What’s the difference?

  • Quarantine (as defined by the CDC) is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick, particularly if they are infected without feeling symptoms. While in quarantine, you should stay home, separate yourself from others, monitor your health, and follow directions from your state or local health department/Occupational Health.
  • Isolation (as defined by the CDC) keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others. The process of isolating is identical to quarantine: Stay home, separate yourself from others, monitor your health, and follow directions from your state or local health department/Occupational Health.


The duration of your quarantine or isolation depends on many factors. Follow the guidance you receive from university authorities. Learn more:

How to quarantine or isolate

Although the purposes of quarantine and isolation differ, the process is the same: Stay home, separate yourself from others, monitor your health, and follow directions from your state or local health department/Occupational Health.

During quarantine/isolation

  • Stay at home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. Keep yourself isolated to one room in your home, preferably with a bathroom that only you will be using for the duration of your self-isolation.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If you use hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not share personal household items such as towels, bedding, pillows, or eating and drinking utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, countertops, etc., daily using a regular household detergent and water.
  • Have food brought and left at your closed door on paper plates and disposal silverware. Have a trash can and garbage bag outside of your door for easy disposal.
  • Use your phone to call or text your family to bring items you need to your door. Use your phone to video chat with children who may not understand why you are isolated.
  • If your family has to have contact with you, make sure that both of you are wearing a mask, covering the nose and mouth.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you notice a worsening of symptoms such as worsening fever, increased cough, or shortness of breath, please notify Occupational/Student Health. If your symptoms become unmanageable or severe, please go to your nearest emergency department. Call the emergency department before you go to let them know you have tested positive for COVID-19 so they can prepare for your arrival. If you must call an ambulance, please inform them of your COVID-19 results.
  • If you are admitted to the hospital, please contact Occupational/Student Health as soon as possible.

Prepare ahead of time:

The prospect of isolating from your family may seem a little daunting but there are preparations you can make ahead of time to make the experience easier.

  • Identify a place — a separate bedroom and bathroom — you can isolate in. If you do not have a spare bedroom and bathroom, it’s important for you to stay quarantined in a designated spot for the duration of the illness. Everyone else in the family should avoid the area at all times.Think about what your family would need in terms of food and medication to quarantine for 10 days.
  • Unless the other members of your household fall under an agreement between their employer and the health department (i.e. health-care workers) your family may be required to quarantine for 10 days at home, due to their exposure to you.
    • Brainstorm activities for your children to do while under quarantine, they will need plenty of items to keep them busy!
    • Find out your school’s policy to see if they can quickly transition your child into virtual learning, if not look up online resources to help a supplement their curriculum, to set the atmosphere, keep some school supplies at home. Ask your child’s teacher to email or send screenshots of what they are working on so others can emulate at home.
    • If you normally care for elderly parents or neighbors, develop a network now, so someone to cover for you.
    • You may have friends or clergy that want to help delivery items to you. Let them! Just make sure that they understand they have to leave items at your door and that you cannot have contact.
  • If you think you may need mental health support, please seek help. The university offers resources for all employees, and also provides special resources for health care personnel.