As Vanderbilt continues the work to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the university is reminding the campus community that it will not grant individualized exceptions to student quarantine and isolation policies. Public health requires consistent collective action, and these policies are in place to help protect the health and safety of the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities.
The university’s decision to place a student into quarantine or isolation is based on positive Vault (or other university-administered or -approved) test results and university contact tracing and cannot be overridden with negative test results. The university does not permit anyone to override the mandatory testing program with other test results. Rapid response tests have significantly higher false negative rates, and we do not accept those results or permit anyone to override positive Vault (or other university-administered or –approved) results with other test results.
If a student has previously tested positive through the campus testing program (pre-arrival, arrival and weekly testing through Vault; or Student Health), the university is aware of their results and they are exempt based on CDC guidelines for 90 days following the date of their test. The university does not accept antibody tests as evidence of prior positivity.
No one can test out of isolation or quarantine with a negative test result. It is not allowed by Metro Health regulations or TN Department of Health and CDC guidance. This is because at any point up until the 14th day after the last exposure someone has to a positive individual, they might still develop COVID-19 and become infectious.
Though the university quickly identifies and quarantines individuals exposed to people who have tested positive, because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, testing is conducted for those in quarantine. Testing asymptomatic close contacts will be tested based on information from this Johns Hopkins study.
Those in quarantine should not leave their quarantine residence for any reason other than for testing at Student Health or receiving medical assistance (for example, at Vanderbilt’s Student Health Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center or another medical provider), until the end of their quarantine period.
Anyone who has been declared a close contact will need to continue in quarantine for the required period and not attend in-person classes, work, research or other non-essential on- or off-campus activities. If a student leaves their quarantine location during their assigned period for any reason other than the testing and medical assistance mentioned above, they are in violation of the university’s quarantine order and will be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. As a reminder, it is possible for individuals to be entirely asymptomatic and yet be infected with the virus and able to infect others.
While in quarantine or isolation, on-campus students are provided support, including transportation, meals and regular communication from university staff. A team within Housing and Residential Experience are regularly in contact with the students and graduate building managers also assist those in need and maintain contact throughout the duration of their stay.
Campus Dining has a program in which off-campus students with meal plans who are quarantining or isolating are registered and provided with Commodore Cash that can be used on GrubHub during the period they are unable to use their meal plan.
Healthcare professionals regularly check in with students during their time in isolation or quarantine, whether they are living on or off campus. Students who are experiencing symptoms are followed by physicians and nurses from the Student Health Center. These students are contacted approximately every other day to assess their symptoms and recovery. Those who are asymptomatic are followed by the nurses and nurse practitioners from the Contact Tracing Team. These nurses call students daily to check on their status including how they are coping with isolation or quarantine. Students who need additional support are encouraged by the healthcare professionals and residential staff to contact the Office of Student Care Coordination.