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College of Medicine COVID-19 testing guidance for students after infection and exposure

College of Medicine senior leadership has been working with Student Health and our Penn State Health infectious disease experts to develop new test guidelines based on new Centers for Disease Control recommendations and the availability of rapid antigen tests. The new guidelines are designed to minimize isolation and quarantine periods, where possible, so as to return learners to the educational environment as soon as is safely possible.

As new information becomes available and guidance changes to continue to keep our students and campus safe for learning, we will continue to update you. Thank you for your continued diligence in following these safety precautions so we can avoid any unplanned learning disruptions.

All medical, physician assistant, RN and graduate students located at the College of Medicine/Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the University Park Regional Campus who have a high-risk exposure, have symptoms, or test positive for COVID-19 should contact the Office of Student Health at 717-531-5998 or via email at immediately.

If symptomatic or positive, isolate immediately and do not attend classes until cleared by Student Health.

Students may leave a voice message or email after hours, over the weekend, and on holidays on the day of the exposure, symptoms or positive test. Student Health will respond when they return to the office.

This guidance does not apply to students who were severely or critically ill, immunosuppressed, or on rotations caring for immunosuppressed patients. They must be advised on a one-to-one basis by Student Health, Dr. Beth Wallen or Dr. Emmanuelle Williams.

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Exposed Students

  • A non-high-risk exposure does not require a student to quarantine. Mask appropriately for activity and location for 10 days.
  • If a student experienced a higher risk exposure, i.e., prolonged time period, not wearing all recommended PPE or no PPE, or close household exposure, testing is recommended as follows:
    • Rapid test on day 1, no sooner than 24 hours after the exposure. If positive, follow guidance below. If negative, no restrictions on activities, follow strict masking and retest day 3.
    • Rapid test day 3. If positive, follow guidelines. If negative, no activity restrictions, strict masking testing.
    • Rapid test day 5. If positive, follow guidance below. If negative, no activity restrictions.

Symptomatic Students

  • If a student is experiencing mild symptoms and NO fever, perform a rapid test and contact Student Health. If the rapid test is negative, continue with activities with masking, retest in 24 hours and contact Student Health.
    • If test is negative, continue normal activities; if test is positive, immediately isolate as per isolation guidance and contact Student Health.
  • No student with a fever and more intensive symptoms should attend class.

Positive Students

If a student has a rapid positive test, day of symptoms is day 0. Isolate, contact Student Health, and test on day 5 with a rapid test.

  • Negative test on day 5: return to activity on day 6 after notifying Student Health with a photo of a negative test result and asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic and no fever for 24 hours without fever reducing drugs. Wear a mask and distance as much as possible through day 10.
  • Positive test on day 5, notify Student Health. Test on day 7 and if negative return to activities on Day 7. If positive, return to activity day 11 without testing if improved symptoms and fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing drugs and email Student Health.

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