COVID-19 Exposure & Isolation Guidance for Residents

To ensure the health and safety of our campus community, University Housing has developed the following protocols in conjunction with university leadership, the University Health Center and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

Please note that protocols are subject to change as new health directives and guidelines are provided by local, state, and/or federal resources.

How to determine if you've been exposed to COVID-19:
  • Were you within 6-feet of a person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes?
  • Were both of you not wearing face coverings during this time?
  • Was this interaction within a period that started 48 hours prior to when they got tested or their first symptom started up to the time the person finished isolation?

According to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD), if you answered yes to all of the questions above, you should consider yourself as exposed to COVID-19.

You also may be identified as having been exposed by the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team or a contact tracer from the LLCHD. If you’re uncertain if you’ve been exposed, it’s best to assume that you have, especially if the person who tested positive lives in the same room/household with you.

Exposure Guidance

First, determine if you've been exposed using the Exposure Guidance webpage. If you have been exposed, follow these steps:

  • Diligently wear a face covering when around anyone for 10 days.
    During this period, do not remove your face covering in the presence of others. This includes gyms. Do not eat meals in the presence of others.
  • Get a UNL saliva test 5 days after exposure or if you develop symptoms during the 10 days.
    • If you’ve tested positive in the last 90 days, do not test. Consult a medical professional if you develop symptoms.
    • If your test is negative, continue to wear a face covering when around anyone for the full 10 days.
    • If your test is positive, immediate begin to follow isolation guidance.

If a student experiences COVID-19 symptoms (fever/chills, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting, shortness of breath, fatigue, new loss of sense of smell, or body ache), they should isolate and get tested for COVID-19. They may also want to consult a medical provider. The University Health Center can be reached at (402) 472-5000. If a COVID-19 test comes back positive, they'll need to follow isolation guidance.


Isolation is a public health strategy to separate sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Students are not encouraged to isolate at home with family or caregivers. Instead, students should have an isolation plan arranged with their roommate(s).

Who Should Isolate
  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they should isolate.
  • If a student is directed to isolate by a medical provider, regardless of testing status, they should follow this instruction.
  • If student is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should immediately test and isolate unless the result is negative.
How to Isolate
  • Students who need to isolate should inform their roommate and follow their personal isolation plan. When necessary, the assigned residence hall room may be used for isolation.
  • As part of the isolation plan, students should consider how they'll prepare or order food during isolation. Meals should be prepared in the living environment or taken to go. In all instances, individuals should eat alone where they're isolating. If a student needs to pick up food to-go, a mask must be worn when outside the room.
  • In cases where a student does not have a safe isolation location, they should contact the Isolation Hotline at (402) 472-1717. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing should email There is no additional cost to students for isolation housing.
  • Students following their personal isolation plan should follow isolation guidance.
  • Any student whose roommate has tested positive for COVID-19 should follow the exposure guidance.

Health & Support

Emergency Care

Any student displaying emergency warning signs (difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to rouse, bluish lips or face) should call 911.

Academic Accommodations

All students quarantining or isolating, regardless of symptoms being present, are expected to participate in classes, recitations, and labs remotely when the option is provided by the instructor. Once the quarantine or isolation period has ended, students may resume in-person instruction.

Students should contact instructors regarding their absence. In cases where students need assistance, they can contact Student Advocacy and Support.

Mental Health Support

Big Red Resilience & Well-being offers a variety of support options for students including well-being coaching, financial well-being sessions and on-demand online resources. Students are encouraged to explore these resources to help improve their personal well-being.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers counseling at no cost to students. They also offer self-guided mental health resources. If students need additional support, they may schedule an appointment with a counselor by calling (402) 472-7450.