Physical Well-Being


People with COVID-19 demonstrate a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. The CDC has identified categories of vulnerable populations that are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.

1.  Develop and implement flexible policies for students, faculty and staff who are encouraged to take extra precautions.

  1. Institutions should develop a system for students, faculty and staff to report their status as a member of a vulnerable population. This system should be designed to adhere to health information privacy and student data privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  2. Campus leaders should discuss health concerns with individuals identified as members of a vulnerable population and develop suitable accommodations that would reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. Such accommodations may include teleworking for staff, online or virtual classes for faculty and digital course schedules for students.

2.  Develop protocols for testing, triage and contact tracing of potential COVID-19 patients.

a.   Coordinate with state and local health authorities to create a list of testing options for persons under investigation.

  1. Develop a list of local testing sites and communicate these locations frequently to the campus community through multiple platforms.
  2. Refer to current CDC guidelines for “Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI)” at
  3. Review CDC considerations for Institutions of Higher Education as well as guidelines from state and local health organizations.

Questions to consider while creating your health screening protocols:​

1.  Will students, faculty, staff, and visitors be screened as they enter campus facilities? If so, which areas or entry points can be used for health screenings?

2.  What will the health screening process entail?

3.  Will students, faculty, staff and visitors be asked to answer a series of survey questions about their potential exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19?

4.  Will students, faculty or staff be required to have their temperature taken onsite? What types of thermometers will be used? Who will take the temperatures? How will they be cleaned after each use? 

5.  How will health screenings be built into daily routines? 

6.  How will health screenings adhere to health information privacy and student data privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)? The Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published guidance on HIPAA and COVID-19 for health care providers, community-based testing sites, businesses, first responders, telehealth providers and others. If campus leaders are unsure of these regulations in the context of COVID-19, they should consult their general counsel.

7.  Who will manage and conduct health screenings for faculty and staff? For students? Will special staff be hired to conduct these screenings?

8.  What information will students, faculty and staff need to make health screenings safe and effective?

9.  For residential campuses, how frequently would health screenings be conducted for student residents?

10.  What resources will be needed for screenings? Examples include no-contact thermometers, masks, gloves, and dividers, barriers or partitions to separate screeners from those being screened.

11.  How will health screening areas be configured to promote social distancing and protect the health of the individuals conducting the screenings?

12.  What documentation needs to be provided to students, faculty, and staff? Examples include written explanations of health screening protocols, district policies on privacy and protected health information, and screening results.

b.   Include guidelines for self-isolation for suspected cases of COVID-19.

  1. Determine and communicate when self-isolation will be required: for example, after recent travel to a COVID-19 “hotspot” or a Level 3 Travel Warning country, or when presenting with a fever of 100.4 or greater, or any of the other COVID-19 symptoms listed by the CDC.
  2. Determine the parameters of proper self-isolation, including the required duration and the limitation on contact with others, especially for on-campus residents.
  3. Provide support to students, faculty and staff who are self-isolating, including mental health support, tutoring, online instruction/meeting options, modified absenteeism policies, etc.

3.  Partner with local health departments, hospitals and laboratories to assist and support your state’s testing and contact tracing efforts.

  1. Assign one or multiple individuals as the point of contact for your institution to communicate with health departments, hospitals, and laboratories.
    1. Make these individuals’ contact information widely available across campus.
  2. Create a procedure for alerting health departments of potential COVID-19 cases on campus.
    1. Consider creating, at the state or system level, a set of documents, PowerPoint decks, social media posts, website articles or other resources containing information and guidance on health screenings and contact tracing that institutions can customize to reflect their needs and share with the community.
  3. Create a procedure for alerting the campus community of a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus while maintaining the confidentiality of the patient. Encourage students, faculty and staff to self-monitor for any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 as identified by the CDC.
  4. Establish the responsibilities for institutions and local health resources when a COVID-19 case is suspected or confirmed. For instance, determine whether the institution or health department will be responsible for contact tracing, monitoring isolation compliance, conducting temperature checks, etc.

4.  Prepare a facility for triage and isolation of patients potentially infected with COVID-19.

  1. The campus student health center (if one exists) should be prepared to rapidly respond to the arrival of a potentially infected patient. 
  2. Share how and when to alert the student health center or local health department of possible infection within the campus community using the institution’s website, posters, newsletters, mailings and social media.
  3. Identify rooms to be designated as isolation areas.
    1. Consult with local or state health officials to identify areas that meet medical and public health requirements.
    2. Create a new visitors’ policy for entering areas with potentially infected patients.
  4. Develop a surge care plan if COVID-19 becomes widespread on campus.
    1. Consider suspending routine care to focus on caring for COVID-19 patients and emergency cases. 
    2. Explore transferring all routine care to telehealth services or transferring COVID-19 cases to another facility.

5.  Stock personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  1. If a student health center exists on campus, staff who may be treating or caring for potential COVID-19 patients must have access to appropriate PPE as described by CDC guidelines.
  2. Choose a dedicated area for storing and distributing PPE. Larger institutions will likely need to identify multiple places. For smaller institutions, this area may be located at a local health facility.
  3. Determine what equipment is needed and create a plan for storing and maintaining PPE for clinical and non-clinical staff. Consider including:
    1. N95 respirators (with appropriate medical clearance and fit-testing of clinical staff)
    2. Long-sleeved isolation gowns
    3. Gloves
    4. Disposable face shields or goggles
  4. Determine how PPEs will be issued if a case of COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed.
    1. Place face masks, tissues, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers at clinic or health services entrances and other strategic places.
    2. Ask patients presenting with respiratory symptoms to wear a face mask as soon as they enter the facility and educate them on triage procedures.