Contact Tracing process for Princeton University community members who are tested for COVID-19

Notifying UHS about a positive COVID Test

All Princeton University employees and students who have been tested for COVID-19 outside of the University and who have tested positive (regardless of the reason [e.g., prior to a medical procedure]), should notify UHS via email: communityhealth@princeton.edu. If appropriate, this notification may begin the contact tracing process. 

Community members tested through the Asymptomatic Testing Program, and students with symptoms tested at McCosh Health Center/UHS do not need to send a notification as this notification happens through internal processes at UHS. 

Contact Tracing Process:  

Following guidance from the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health, UHS is prioritizing contact tracing among populations that are at the highest risk of transmission on campus: graduate and undergraduate students and service personnel. 

If you have tested positive, contact tracers from UHS may follow up with you to begin the contact tracing process specifically among members of the Princeton University community. 

For the purposes of contact tracing, make sure your contact information is up-to-date and accurate in HR Self-Service (for employees) and TigerHub (for students).

Information learned through the process of contact tracing is confidential and will not be used for any disciplinary purposes for either students or employees. 

If you are an individual who receives a phone call about contact tracing, contacts who are outside of the University’s jurisdiction will be called by the respective Department of Health (DOH), based on your residential address [i.e., your county]. The ‘home’ DOH will then follow up with you to identify close contacts that are not University-affiliated.

1. Acting on behalf of Princeton’s Department of Health, UHS will conduct contact tracing with prioritized populations to determine close contacts from the campus community. A member of the contact tracing team will discuss the following information with you, as indicated:

  • Onset of your symptoms (or when symptoms began)
  • Date and location of your test
  • Last day you were at work/on campus
  • Location where you are isolating (current address)
  • Possible travel or exposure in the two weeks prior to symptom development or the positive test
  • Names of your close contacts
    • Close contacts are those individuals who have been within 6 feet of you (the potentially ill person) for at least 15 minutes, cumulatively within a 24-hour period.
      • For asymptomatic individuals, the close contact must be within 48 hours of the date you were tested until you entered isolation. 
      • For symptomatic individuals, the close contact must be within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms until you entered isolation.
    • If someone does not meet this definition, they are not considered a close contact and it is not necessary for them to be part of the contact tracing process.

2. Close contacts who are Princeton University community members, depending on risk and prioritization, may then contacted by UHS and informed that they have been exposed to a community member who has tested positive for COVID-19. All the personal information about the person who is positive for COVID-19 (i.e., your name, location of potential exposure) will be kept confidential. Individuals who are not contacted do not need to self-quarantine because they do not meet the criteria for close contacts.

3. Close contacts are informed and reminded that they need to:

    • Monitor themselves closely for symptoms that may be related to COVID
    • Notify communityhealth@princeton.edu if they have been tested and received a positive result OR if they have symptoms and are awaiting the results of a test, regardless of vaccination status
    • Complete the Daily Symptom Check either on the web or through the TigerSafe app for the monitoring period shared with them by the contact tracers
    • Quarantine if they are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines1 at the time of exposure. Information about what quarantine entails for employees or students can be found here.
      • Quarantine is not required for those who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. 
    • If up to date with COVID-19 vaccines at the time of exposure, submit an additional saliva sample through the on-campus asymptomatic testing program, so that they are submitting two tests that week for the designated monitoring period
    • If up to date with COVID-19 vaccines at the time of exposure, continue to take part in in-person campus activities, including classes or meetings, during the monitoring period

    Quarantine Determination

    Close contacts of positive individuals who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines must quarantine for a duration of 10 days from the date of exposure to the positive individual. Close contacts who are quarantining due to an exposure to an individual who is showing symptoms of COVID but is still waiting for the results of a COVID test will be released from quarantine if the symptomatic individual's test result comes back negative. 

    Your close contacts that are not vaccinated must complete the full duration of their quarantine. Your close contacts that are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines must monitor themselves closely for symptoms for 10 days, submit an extra test to the testing program that week, and use the Daily Symptom Check (also available through the TigerSafe app) for the same period. 

    Important note: unvaccinated individuals required to quarantine are unable to “test out” of quarantine with a negative test in any circumstance.

    For More Information

    Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about contact tracing and its importance in preventing or slowing the spread of illness.

    1Up to date with COVID-19 vaccines: have received both initial vaccines and have received booster doses, if eligible.