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College of Medicine COVID-19 exposure protocols

Penn State College of Medicine students, postdoctoral fellows and employees (faculty and staff) who think they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or who have symptoms themselves, should not come on campus.

Instead, follow the appropriate protocol below.

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COM COVID-19 Exposure Protocols: Students

Students with COVID-19 signs or syptoms, or contact with a COVID-positive individual Expand answer

The following process should be followed by students who develop any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or who were in contact with a COVID-positive individual.

Contact Student Health

Contact Student Health immediately to be assessed by calling 717-531-5998, as everyone’s health is our top priority.

What to do

The below outlines the steps students should take if they start developing symptoms or were exposed to a laboratory-confirmed positive family member, roommate or friend.

Download a one-page printable flowchart of this guidance from Box (Penn State Access ID login required)

Any student who is having symptoms should:

  • Leave clinical, classroom or lab environment right away.
  • Separate from others by at least 6 feet.
  • Wear ear loop mask.
  • Perform hand hygiene.
  • Call Student Health at 717-531-5998 for screening between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Leave a message and the call will be returned. Outside of business hours, call 717-531-8521 and ask the operator for the Family Medicine attending on call.

Any student who is concerned they have been exposed to COVID should:

  • Call Student Health at 717-531-5998 for screening between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Leave a message and the call will be returned. Outside of business hours, call 717-531-8521 and ask the operator for the Family Medicine attending on call.

In either situation, the screening process will determine whether the student is a suspected COVID-19 case.

  • If not, students may return to the learning environment when feeling well and should call Student Health for any new or developing symptoms.
  • Any student who is suspected to have COVID-19 is now categorized as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).

For PUI students:

  • During business hours: Student Health will schedule the student an OnDemand appointment for evaluation, order COVID testing and provide directions on how to obtain a Quest test kit and instructions from Student Health.
  • After hours or weekends: When the provider on call determines testing is needed, they contact the Student Health staff on call. Student Health will contact the student to confirm a pickup time at the Student Health office parking lot between 10 and 11 a.m. on weekends or holidays. Once testing is completed, the student is to return the testing kit back to the Student Health office. Students will be instructed to contact the office or on-call Student Health staff to determine drop-off times.
  • Notifications: Any PUI student must notify the appropriate person:
  • When calling the appropriate person, the PUI student must confirm they have spoken with Student Health and provide the estimated time of their quarantine. The PUI must contact housing to determine alternate living accommodations for the duration of quarantine/isolation. The PUI must also notify housemate(s) of illness and encourage them to contact Student Health for further instructions. Housemates will remain in their living accommodations and contact Student Affairs/Graduate Studies/Nursing to report absence from classes or clinical rotations. PUI and housemate(s) are to call Student Health with any health-related concerns.
  • Housemate(s): Housemate(s) must quarantine, as directed, and self-monitor for symptoms. Housemates should contact Student Health immediately if any symptoms develop.
  • Negative result: If a negative result is returned, the PUI must contact Student Health for assessment and clearance from quarantine. Student Health will forward a letter of release from quarantine to Student Affairs/Graduate Studies/College of Nursing personnel. Student Health will also assess housemates for clearance and forward letters of release to Student Affairs/Graduate Studies/College of Nursing personnel. Once cleared, the PUI and housemate(s) may return to learning activities, and should call Student Health for new or developing symptoms.
  • Positive result: If a positive result is returned, the COVID-19-positive student should inform their housemate(s) of test results. The student should remain in isolation, in temporary housing, until all of the following conditions are met:
    • At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms
    • At least 24 hours without fever (100.4 degrees F) without the use of antipyretics
    • There is improvement in symptoms.
  • Students who meet these criteria should contact Student Health to get a clearance letter, permitting them to return to class or clinical rotations.
  • For students who are immunocompromised, additional requirements may apply; please contact Student Health.
  • MD, PA and graduate housemates remain on quarantine until nine days after last contact with the COVID-19-positive individual. Nursing housemates will be placed on a 14-day quarantine from last date of contact.

With questions

Students with questions or concerns, or who need more information, should contact their coordinating office:

Students with COVID-19 exposure in the clinical environment Expand answer

Students who are notified of a COVID exposure through their clinical environment, such as Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, outpatient Penn State Health clinics or any affiliated sites should follow this process.

Contact Student Health

Contact Student Health immediately to be assessed by calling 717-531-5998, as everyone’s health is our top priority.

What to do

Download a one-page printable flowchart of this guidance from Box (Penn State Access ID login required)

Any student who is concerned that they may have been exposed to COVID in a clinical environment should:

  • Leave clinical environment right away.
  • Separate from others by at least 6 feet.
  • Wear ear loop mask.
  • Perform hand hygiene.
  • Call Student Health at 717-531-5998 for screening between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Leave a message and the call will be returned. Outside of business hours, call 717-531-8521 and ask the operator for the Family Medicine attending on call.

In either situation, the screening process will determine whether the student is a suspected COVID-19 case.

  • If not, students may return to the learning environment when feeling well and should call Student Health for any new or developing symptoms.
  • Any student who is suspected to have COVID-19 is now categorized as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).

Student Health will determine the type of site (affiliated/community or academic clinical):

  • Affiliated/community site exposures: A Student Health nurse will screen the student to determine risk level.
  • Academic site exposures: Student Health will transfer the student to Infection Prevention at 717-531-4641. The student will provide Infection Prevention with their name, contact information and COVID-positive patient information. Infection Prevention will assess the student’s exposure risk level.

Risk assessment will determine whether the student is considered high or medium risk.

  • If no, the student may return to the learning/clinical environment, and should call Student Health for new or developing symptoms.
  • If yes, the student becomes a Person Under Investigation (PUI).

For PUI students:

  • In cases of academic site exposure, the PUI must contact Student Health to relay IP’s risk assessment/quarantine determination.
  • Notifications: Any PUI student must notify the appropriate person:
  • When calling the appropriate person, the PUI student must confirm they have spoken with Student Health and provide the estimated time of their quarantine. The PUI must contact housing to determine alternate living accommodations for the duration of quarantine/isolation.
  • If symptoms develop:
    • During business hours: The student should call Student Health, which will schedule the student an OnDemand appointment for evaluation, order COVID testing and provide directions on how to obtain a Quest test kit and instructions from Student Health.
    • After hours or weekends: The student should call 717-531-8521 and ask the operator for the “Family Medicine Attending on call.” When the provider on call determines testing is needed, they contact the Student Health staff on call. Student Health will contact the student to confirm a pickup time at the Student Health office parking lot between 10 and 11 a.m. on weekends or holidays. Once testing is completed, the student is to return the testing kit back to the Student Health office. Students will be instructed to contact the office or on-call Student Health staff to determine drop-off times.
    • Housemate(s): Housemate(s) must quarantine, as directed, and self-monitor for symptoms. Housemates should contact Student Health immediately if any symptoms develop.
    • Negative result: If a negative result is returned, the PUI must contact Student Health for assessment and clearance from quarantine. Student Health will forward a letter of release from quarantine to Student Affairs/Graduate Studies/College of Nursing personnel. Student Health will also assess housemates for clearance and forward letters of release to Student Affairs/Graduate Studies/College of Nursing personnel. Once cleared, the PUI and housemate(s) may return to learning activities, and should call Student Health for new or developing symptoms.
    • Positive result: If a positive result is returned, the COVID-19-positive student should inform their housemate(s) of test results. The student should remain in isolation, in temporary housing, until all of the following conditions are met:
      • At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms
      • At least 24 hours without fever (100.4 degrees F) without the use of antipyretics
      • There is improvement in symptoms.
    • Students who meet these criteria should contact Student Health to get a clearance letter, permitting them to return to class or clinical rotations.
    • For students who are immunocompromised, additional requirements may apply; please contact Student Health.
    • MD, PA and graduate housemates remain on quarantine until nine days after last contact with the COVID-19-positive individual. Nursing housemates will be placed on a 14-day quarantine from last date of contact.

With questions

Students with questions or concerns, or who need more information, should contact their coordinating office:

COM COVID-19 Exposure Protocols: Faculty, Staff and Postdocs

The following information applies to all employees of Penn State College of Medicine, including faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows, who are not involved with direct patient care, and who are working on-site in Hershey.

  • COM employees involved with patient care, and all Penn State Health employees, should follow health system guidelines.
  • Students should follow the student guidelines listed elsewhere on this page.
  • Employees currently working remotely should use their best judgement regarding exposure to others and taking time off for illness.

Examples outlined on this page may require a return to work release.

Employees with symptoms of COVID-19 Expand answer

If you:

  • have any of these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Diarrhea
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell

Follow these instructions

  • Stay home.
  • Call your primary care physician.
  • Contact Occupational Medicine at psuoccmed@psu.edu or 814-863-8492.
  • Occupational Medicine will determine if you have had close contact with other employees and will refer you for contact tracing.
  • If necessary, Occupational Medicine will notify your supervisor and Absence Management on your behalf.
Employees in contact with someone with COVID-19 or COVID symptoms Expand answer

If you:

  • have had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has COVID-19 symptoms

Follow these instructions

  • Contact Occupational Medicine at psuoccmed@psu.edu or 814-863-8492.
  • If necessary, Occupational Medicine will notify your supervisor and Absence Management on your behalf.
Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 Expand answer

If you…

  • have tested positive for COVID-19

Follow these instructions

  • Contact Occupational Medicine at psuoccmed@psu.edu or 814-863-8492.
  • Occupational Medicine will determine if you have had close contact with other employees and will refer you for contact tracing.
  • If necessary, Occupational Medicine will notify your supervisor and Absence Management on your behalf.
Employees who have traveled outside of Pennsylvania Expand answer

If you…

  • have traveled outside of Pennsylvania

Follow these instructions

Employees ordered testing who test negative for COVID-19 Expand answer

If you…

  • had a test ordered by Occupational Medicine based on your symptoms or close contacts, and tested negative for COVID-19

Follow these instructions

  • Occupational Medicine will advise you based on the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health advice, guidelines and orders.
  • Employees who had symptoms themselves will be off work for 10 days or until symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Those who were another employee’s close contact will be off work for 14 days.

  • With any questions, contact Occupational Medicine at psuoccmed@psu.edu or 814-863-8492.

Information for Managers

Managers of College of Medicine employees should also consult the COVID-19 Assessment/Reporting Instructions for Supervisors (available in Box; Penn State Access ID login required).

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email the Penn State College of Medicine web department.