In light of recent new recommendations from the CDC, we are reviewing campus COVID-19 safety protocols. If you have specific questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: Aug. 4, 2022
Yes! Before you arrive, please take a COVID-19 test one to two days prior to your departure for campus. You do not need to provide proof of test results. At-home test kits or lab-based tests both fulfill this requirement.
If you test positive prior to departing for campus, please stay home and complete your isolation period. Reach out to email@example.com for specific guidance.
Yes! All campus members should take a pooled-saliva test within five days of arriving on campus, and continue testing once a week for the first two weeks of classes. You should not test if you have had a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days.
- On-campus students: Saliva test kits and instructions will be distributed with residence hall check-in and key pickup. Drop off your completed test kit in the drop box upstairs in Wheelock Student Center, across from Room 208. Students housed in double rooms will be provided with antigen tests to take upon arrival in addition to saliva testing.
- Off-campus students: Please pick up a saliva test kit from the table outside of Wheelock 208. Please complete your test and then drop it off at the drop box.
- Pooled results are available within 24 to 48 hours.
- The goal of saliva testing is to identify positive cases and safely isolate them in order to prevent an outbreak. Isolation space is available on campus to students who test positive.
Masks are not required at baseline or moderate mitigation as long as the campus COVID-19 indicators remain in low and/or medium. The COVID-19 dashboard and accompanying COVID-19 Mitigation Action Plan will be used to determine if/when masking will be required. Masking with a KN95 or N95 is always encouraged in group, indoor, settings.
Students, staff, and faculty can pick up a rapid test from the following locations:
- Second floor of Wheelock Student Center (while supplies last)
- Facilities Services (9 a.m.–3 p.m.)
- Security Services (24/7)
Supplies are limited, so please do not take more test kits than you need.
On campus, please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you test positive on an at-home test. We report our data to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, who reports it to the Washington Department of Health.
If you have family members who test positive on an at-home test, please follow this guidance from the Washington Department of Health: People who purchase over-the-counter test kits and receive a positive result should call the state COVID-19 hotline, 1.800.525.0127, then press # (press 7 for Spanish), as soon as they receive results. The hotline is available Monday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Tuesday to Sunday (and observed holidays), from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Language assistance is available.
If you are having COVID-like symptoms that are not attributed to a known condition, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should quarantine away from others (stay home, wear a mask, and do not attend work or class) until COVID-19 infection has been ruled out. Because breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals can occur, it is important that all campus members, regardless of vaccination status, quarantine upon symptom onset and get tested. See COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing Guidelines Flow Chart for more information.
COVID-like symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Please see the COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing Guidelines flowchart with general information and steps about what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19. The information below contains more specific information for students and staff/faculty.
Students: Even if you are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, please get tested for COVID-19. A PCR test is recommended to rule out COVID-19. Please self-quarantine until you have received a negative result.
If you are having more moderate or severe COVID-19-like symptoms, please call the triage nurse at Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (CHWS) at 253.879.2798, and leave a message Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. The triage nurse will provide guidance and schedule you for an appointment with a health care provider if needed. At your appointment, you may be tested for COVID-19 and other conditions as appropriate. During the summer, or if CHWS is closed, students may utilize the MultiCare Respiratory Clinic to see a provider. Appointments and insurance are required. The clinic may be reached at 253.879.2821 and is located at 3215 N. 13th St. (near the Yellow House).
Students with moderate to severe symptoms should self-quarantine until they have received guidance from the triage nurse or another health care provider, including a negative test result from a PCR/NAAT test. Antigen tests cannot be used to rule out COVID-19 infection in symptomatic individuals. If your symptoms are due to another cause, not COVID-19, the health care provider will determine your next steps.
Faculty and staff members who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should seek out testing with their health care provider or a testing site. The MultiCare Respiratory Clinic on campus is available for COVID-19 testing. Appointments are required. The clinic may be reached at 253.879.2821 and is located at 3215 N. 13th St. (near the Yellow House). Faculty and staff members should self-quarantine until they have received a negative test result from a PCR/NAAT test. If the result is negative, please continue to stay home until symptoms are improved, and you have been fever-free for 24 hours. Please consult with your health care provider if you are unsure if you should return to work.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you must report this to a designated person in your department (supervisor, department chair, etc.) and email@example.com. Antigen tests are not recommended to rule out COVID-19 infection in symptomatic individuals.
I have tested negative for COVID-19 with a PCR/NAAT test. When can I return to in-person activities on campus?
You should work with your health care provider to determine when it is safe to return to in-person activities. In general, if you have no known exposure to COVID-19, you should continue to stay home as long as you feel sick. You may return to in-person activities on campus when you have been symptom- and fever-free for at least 24 hours. Continue to wear a mask and socially distance until your symptoms resolve.
If you have tested negative for COVID-19, but are experiencing symptoms that cannot be attributed to another known condition and have known close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, you are presumed positive for COVID-19. This means you should isolate away from others, regardless of your vaccination status. The campus provides isolation and quarantine space available to all students, regardless of whether you live on or off campus. You should work with your health care provider to determine when you can end isolation and return to in-person activities.
I’m vaccinated against COVID-19, but I had close contact with someone who tested positive. What should I do next? Do I need to quarantine?
Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) and the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (CHWS) contact-tracing team work closely together whenever a positive case of COVID-19 is identified on campus. In the event of multiple cases on campus, TPCHD will evaluate each case, the place of transmission, and make the determination if outbreak status is required.
I'm a faculty/staff member. My child was exposed to COVID-19 at school. They need to quarantine at home. What should I do in this situation? Do I also need to quarantine? Can I go to work in person?
Generally, unless your child tests positive for COVID-19, you are not considered a close contact of a positive case. If your child does test positive during their quarantine (or if your child develops symptoms and is presumed positive), you should follow the guidance for a high-risk close contact. Please see pugetsound.edu/closecontact or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further guidance if your child tests positive.
For inquiries regarding time off and use of sick or personal leave to stay home with your child/family member, please consult human resources.
If someone in my class tests positive for COVID-19, do I need to quarantine? Does the whole class need to quarantine? How does contact tracing work for a classroom exposure?
Whenever there is a positive case on campus, contact tracing is performed through an interview with the positive case.
If the positive case is a student, the contact tracing interview will include questions about participation in each class they attended during their infectious period to determine if any students or the instructor are identified as close contacts.
Once information about each class is collected from the student who tested positive, notifications are sent to professors and any identified close contacts.
It is recommended that professors utilize daily attendance and seating charts for their classes to aid in contact tracing efforts.
If you are identified as a close contact due to classroom exposure, you will receive a notification with instructions about what to do after close contact from contact tracing. If you believe you are a close contact, and have not yet received information from contact tracing, please check your email or email email@example.com. You may also find information about what to do after close contact on our I Am a Close Contact page.
*Per updated CDC guidance as of December 2021, if you are identified as a close contact and are not fully vaccinated with the primary series, or if you have not yet received a booster and are eligible for one, you will be directed to quarantine. If you are vaccinated with the primary series and have received a booster, you will not need to quarantine, but you will need to test, monitor for symptoms, and wear a mask around others.
CHWS provides symptomatic testing only. This means at CHWS you can get a test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 as part of a provider visit. We do not provide proof of a negative test for travel purposes.
Different countries require different types of tests with different timelines. It is recommended that students research the requirements for the country they are traveling to, and then utilize a travel testing clinic.
CHWS can provide a documentation-of-recovery letter for students who have tested positive within the last 90 days and need documentation to travel outside of the United States.
Stay calm and put on a substantial mask (double mask with a medical + cloth mask, a KN95, N95, or KF94). Your symptoms may be due to another condition, but it’s important to rule out COVID-19 as a possible cause. You should get tested as soon as possible. Or, if your symptoms are concerning or worsening, make an appointment to see a provider and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. While you await your appointment and test results, you and your roommate should wear substantial masks while you are in your room to reduce the likelihood of transmission.
If you test positive, you will move to isolation housing on campus, and your roommate will receive instructions from CHWS about what to do next. If you do not test positive, the health care provider at CHWS will give you and your roommate (if needed) information regarding how to proceed.
If you live on campus and need to self-quarantine, please wear a mask and utilize “Grab and Go” options from the The Diner in Wheelock Student Center while you await test results or an appointment, or if a COVID-19 infection has been ruled out.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be moved to isolation housing on campus, and food will be delivered to you.
Yes, it is possible that unvaccinated and vaccinated students may be in the same room or suite, just as they may be in the same classroom, studio, or laboratory.
Pooling—sometimes referred to as pool testing or pooled testing—means combining the same type of specimen from several people and conducting one NAAT laboratory test on the combined pool of specimens to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Pooled tests that return positive results will require each specimen in the pool to be retested individually to determine which individual(s) are positive. (CDC.gov)
The pooled saliva testing is PCR testing, a type of NAAT laboratory test. PCR testing is more sensitive than antigen testing (most at-home tests are antigen tests).
Samples are sent to the lab Monday–Thursday only. Samples must be turned in by 2:30 p.m. each day.
Test kit pickup and drop-off is located in Wheelock Student Center, across from Room 208.
Our pooled testing is managed through an online platform called Meenta. Samples are turned in and scanned into the Meenta platform by a CHWS staff member. This scan associates the person with the barcode on the vial with the saliva sample. The process assigns the sample to a pool, but the sample itself remains anonymous unless a diagnostic result is required.
Samples are sent to the lab daily at 2:30pm. They usually arrive at the lab within less than 24 hours of when they are shipped, unless there is a shipping delay.
When the samples reach the lab, they are processed in pools of 4–8 samples. If an entire pool of 4 or 8 is negative, the samples in that pool are determined to be negative and notifications of the negative pooled result are sent by text message and/or email through the Meenta platform.
If one of the samples in the pool is positive, further processing of the samples is required to determine which sample in the pool is positive. At this point, the individual samples in the positive pool are then re-tested. If, after further processing, a sample is negative, a notification of a negative result will be sent to that individual through a text message or email.
If an individual’s sample’s result is positive or inconclusive, Meenta will notify the individual with the following message:
“Your pooled testing results have indicated that your saliva sample needed diagnostic testing. Please check your email. You should have received an email from the lab that will allow you to view the diagnostic testing results of your individual sample. Right now, you should self-quarantine and avoid close contact with others. During this time, please quarantine in your current living space and wear a mask if you live in a communal space. Do not go to work or class in person. A contact tracer will be calling you as soon as possible. Please answer the phone when they call. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please see: pugetsound.edu/emergency/university-response-covid-19.”
A positive diagnostic result means that COVID-19 was detected in your individual sample.
An inconclusive diagnostic result means that COVID-19 was detected at low levels in your sample, and re-testing 48–72 hours later is recommended to confirm a positive or negative result. If you have an inconclusive result, please self-quarantine until you receive a test.
Saliva samples are shipped to the lab Monday–Thursday at 2:30 p.m. To expedite your results, it’s important to drop off your sample prior to 2:30 p.m. Samples received after 2:30 p.m. will be sent out the next day. Samples received on Thursday after 2:30 p.m. are sent out on Mondays.
After your sample reaches the lab, pooled results are usually available within 12 to 24 hours. The pooled results will be texted and emailed to members of that pool. If you have any further questions about testing or accessing your results, please email email@example.com.
Yes, we are currently running pooled saliva testing, as of Aug. 1.
Evidence is clear that a prior COVID-19 infection does not fully immunize you from contracting the new variants, and that immunity acquired through infection may wane over time. Vaccines provide robust protection against COVID-19, and although they do not offer 100% protection, a high proportion of vaccinated individuals is important to reach herd immunity.
Information about how to request a medical or religious exemption can be found on the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (CHWS) website.
Any individual approved for an exemption will be required to observe CDC and any other guidance implemented on the University of Puget Sound campus.
The CDC says that a booster is not required to be fully vaccinated, why is the university requiring them?
The following guidance is taken directly from the CDC.
The CDC now recommends that adults 18 and older should receive a booster shot. Data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier or who received a J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine two months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against getting infected with COVID-19.
I recently tested positive for COVID-19. Do I still need to get a booster shot? If so, when should I get my shot?
If you have recently tested positive and not yet received a booster shot, you should consult with your primary health care provider to determine when to receive the booster shot. You may still return to campus if you have not received a booster. Please plan on getting your booster as soon as you are eligible after you arrive.
Booster shots are available in Tacoma and the surrounding area. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department hosts vaccine clinics in many locations on a daily basis. View an up-to-date list of vaccine clinic sites.
In addition, the Washington Department of Health provides a tool which includes pharmacies and smaller vaccine providers that have open appointments.
If you are outside of Washington, you can use this website to find a vaccine provider near you.
Those who have already received an approved medical or religious exemption are not required to receive a booster shot. No additional exemption paperwork is necessary.
Students: To receive a medical or religious exemption for the booster shot, please fill out an exemption form located on the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services website.
You may still return to campus if you have not received a booster. Please plan on getting your booster as soon as you are eligible after you arrive.