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It’s more important than ever to keep our germs to ourselves, especially when we’re not feeling well. And when it comes to worrying about whether you might have COVID-19, understanding the difference between when you should quarantine and when you should isolate is key to helping stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Bridget McLernon Sykes, director of Student Health Services at the College of Charleston, says using these mnemonic devices will help:

  • Q is for questionable, and therefore quarantine. If someone thinks they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, even if they are not showing symptoms, they should quarantine and remain separate from others.
  • Students who are ill go into isolation, so think “isolation/ill.”

“Because people can transmit COVID-19 before they show signs of being ill, people quarantine – it’s a questionable status, so Q/questionable – if they have had exposure to a positive coronavirus case,” says Sykes. “By keeping separate from others, if they actually do become ill, they will not spread the illness.”

RELATED: Read these important updates, including information on quarantine and isolation procedures, from President Hsu.

Students living on and off campus will quarantine in their own residences. Per the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, if a student is identified as a close contact or household contact of a positive COVID-19 case, he or she must quarantine. If they wish, they can get tested seven days after their last contact with the individual, or seven days into their roommate’s isolation. But, a negative test does not change the quarantine period. If the person does not live with the positive case, their quarantine period is 14 days. If the person is a household contact of a positive case they must quarantine until their positive roommate is out of isolation (10 days) plus another 14 days (for a total of 24 days). If another person in the environment at home becomes positive, the isolation period/quarantine resets.

Students go into isolation when they’re ill and have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and either are awaiting test results or have tested positive. If a student is symptomatic but hasn’t had a known exposure to a COVID-19 case, then he or she will isolate until test results are known. Isolation lasts for 10 days following symptom onset, or, if asymptomatic, from 10 days after a positive test date.

If a student who lives on campus tests positive, he or she will move to Buist Residence Hall for isolation, and meals will be provided. Students who live off campus and test positive for COVID-19 will isolate in their own residence, preferably in a single room with the use of a private bathroom. Student Health Services will check in daily with all students in quarantine or isolation to monitor their symptoms.