Do I have to report my positive COVID test to my school?

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

With most universities returning to full operating capacity this fall, students have a lot of questions about the continuation of COVID-19 policies from last year.

One of the most common questions we get from DC-area students is, “What happens if I get COVID while on campus? Do I have to report it to someone?”

The answer is almost certainly yes. While different universities may have different policies about testing and self-reporting, almost every university is strictly keeping track of all COVID cases on their campus.

So if you test positive for COVID-19, you’ll need to report it to your school, and then isolate until you get better.

At DC Student Defense, we make it our job to help you understand all of your school’s conduct policies. Read on for more information about self-reporting a positive COVID test on a DC college campus.

Testing and quarantine policies


The DC Health Department requires all DC-area colleges and universities to appoint a Point of Contact (POC) for students, faculty, and staff to report their cases. This POC will then work with the Health Department to keep track of all COVID cases on DC college campuses.

While it’s worth doing research into the specifics of your school’s policies and procedures, it’s almost a given that your school will have strict requirements for frequent testing and reporting the results.

Most schools will at least have implemented the following procedures:

  • A vaccine mandate, or strongly encouraging students to get vaccinated
  • Testing upon arrival to campus and regular testing throughout the year
  • More frequent testing and symptom monitoring for unvaccinated students
  • Quarantine for students exposed to a known COVID case
  • Isolation for known COVID cases

Check out our recent blog post for more information on which schools are requiring students to get vaccinated for the fall.

DC universities’ reporting requirements


In order to find out your school’s specific policies around reporting positive tests, and the procedures for testing and reporting, you’re going to have to do a little research.

For reference, here are the requirements for a few prominent DC-area universities:

  • Fully-vaccinated students at Georgetown University are only required to get tested upon arrival, but do have to report all off-campus test results to the university throughout the year.
  • Fully-vaccinated students at George Washington University are required to get tested once a month, and report any exposure or off-campus positive test result to the university.
  • Students at American University are also required to report any symptoms, exposure, or positive test result to the university throughout the year.

If you can’t find the information on your school’s website, try contacting your school’s health or medical department, or your academic advisor.

Consequences of not reporting your COVID case


Violating your school’s COVID -19 policies can lead to serious academic consequences, for example:

  • Removal from certain classes
  • Isolation requirements
  • Loss of scholarship
  • Temporary suspension
  • Expulsion

Failing to report a positive COVID test will almost certainly land you in hot water with your school’s administration. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow your school’s COVID policies to the letter.

However, if you are accused of violating your school’s COVID policies, you’ll need an experienced student defense attorney to help prepare your defense.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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