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: If appropriate, this notification may begin the contact tracing process. Contact tracing will follow asymptomatic testing only if the result is a positive test.


Community members tested through the asymptomatic testing program, and students with symptoms tested at McCosh do not need to send a notification as this notification happens through internal processes at UHS. 

Contact Tracing Process:  

If you have tested positive, contact tracers from UHS will follow up with you to begin the contact tracing process specifically among members of the Princeton University community. (Note: Our contact tracing begins at time of test, not time of test result.) 

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. 

Contact tracing for those contacts who are outside of the University’s jurisdiction will be initiated 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 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. All close contacts who are Princeton University community members are then contacted by UHS and informed that they have been exposed to an ill community member. All the personal information about the ill staff member (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 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 fully vaccinated 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 fully vaccinated. 
    • If fully vaccinated at the time of exposure, submit an additional saliva sample through the on-campus asymptomatic testing program, so that they are submitting two tests per week for the designated monitoring period
    • If fully vaccinated at the time of exposure, continue to take part in campus activities, including classes or meetings during the monitoring period

    Quarantine Determination

    For symptomatic individuals: Your test results determine the length of quarantine for your close contacts: 

    • Negative COVID test result: If your test result is negative, then close contacts who are not vaccinated will be informed that they can discontinue quarantine.
    • Positive COVID test result: If your test result is positive, then close contacts who are not vaccinated should remain in quarantine for the duration that was initially communicated to them. They will not receive a communication about discontinuing quarantine. 

    For asymptomatic individuals who test positive: Your close contacts that are not vaccinated must complete the full duration of their quarantine. Your close contacts that are fully vaccinated must monitor themselves closely for symptoms for 10 days, submit an extra test (test 2 times a week for 1 week after exposure), 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.