Quarantine and Isolation

CDC Revises COVID-19 Guidance as Illness Wanes

A positive test for COVID-19 no longer means a five-day isolation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On March 1, the CDC changed its guidance. The agency now says that individuals with COVID can return to regular activities if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms improve. Under the new guidelines, the CDC advises individuals who opt to end their isolation to use enhanced hygiene practices, wear masks, and, whenever possible, maintain social distancing, while also avoiding contact with individuals aged 65 or older.

CDC officials indicate that this change is possible due to the reduced likelihood of severe illness caused by the current virus, thanks to widespread immunity attained through vaccination, prior exposure, or both. The CDC recommends that individuals stay up to date with COVID, flu, and RSV vaccines.


The Grand Valley CARE team has compiled a broad collection of resources for students affected by COVID-19. Students who have concerns about their own or another student's resource needs should file a CARE report.

More information and details on the various resources and support available to the campus community can be found in the questions below. If you have questions about isolation and quarantine, contact your healthcare provider, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health: 616-396-5266 or [email protected] or the Kent County Health Department at 888-535-6136.

Current Guidance

CDC Current Guidance for the general population.

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Key Terms

COVID-19 is short for Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Close contacts: a close contact is someone who was exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and was within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period, regardless of whether the exposed person was wearing a mask.

Isolation is when someone who tested positive with COVID-19 is separated from others. This means having a separate bedroom and bathroom, and staying in place. This is done to prevent or limit the transmission of the virus. You must complete isolation regardless of your vaccination status or whether you have symptoms. You must isolate according to CDC guidelines found using the Isolation Calculator.

Quarantine is when someone has been exposed to COVID-19 and is separated from others and limits interactions. This means staying home and away from others as much as possible to prevent or limit the transmission of the virus. A person is required to quarantine when they are not up-to-date and have had unmasked contact within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more (over 24 hours) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You may be notified by the positive person. You must quarantine according to CDC guidelines using this Quarantine calculator

Release is the formal discontinuation of isolation or quarantine. You may be released from isolation when you have completed your isolation period AND your symptoms have improved (or you have none). You may be released from quarantine when your quarantine period is completed and you have no symptoms.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include but are not limited to: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. 

Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT): COVID-19 tests that detect the presence of specific nucleic acid materials (e.g., RNA) in the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This test is typically used as a confirmatory testing method due to its higher sensitivity levels compared to an antigen test. These tests can be positive for up to three months after the initial infection.   

Antigen Test: COVID-19 tests that detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by looking for structural components of the virus itself. Depending on the levels of COVID-19 in the community, the accuracy of this type of test can vary but usually indicates whether the case is infective or not.  

Fully Vaccinated:  A person is “fully vaccinated” when they have received all doses of the primary series of vaccines. 

Up-To-Date: A person is “up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccinations when they have received all primary doses and all boosters that are recommended. A person may also be up to date with their vaccinations if they have completed the primary series but are not yet due for a booster; have received one booster and are not yet due for a second booster; or have received one booster and are not recommended to get a second booster by a health care provider. 

Page last modified March 22, 2024