/ Campus Health

What happens when I'm a close contact?

Close contact = 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or more.

You can be exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with someone who has the virus. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person had any symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.


  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more
  • You live in the same residence as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. (This applies to those living in a residence hall room, apartment, cottage or house).
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed or somehow got respiratory droplets on you


When a student tests positive for COVID-19, the Hope College Health Center and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health will be notified. Upon notification, the college will begin working with the student to identify potential close contacts. This process paves the way for the local health department, which will begin a contact tracing investigation. If you are a student who has been identified as a close contact, you will:

Receive support from Hope staff
Trained advocates from Hope College will begin working with you right away to help you understand what to do, what to expect and what support is available. These advocates are committed and prepared to help you through the process.
Move into quarantine
Trained advocates from Hope College will help you move into quarantine housing. Quarantine lasts for at least 14 days. While in quarantine, you’ll need to stay in your housing, separate yourself from others, monitor your health, and follow directions from the Hope College Health Center and the local health department.
Contact your professors and your work supervisor(s)
Your Hope advocates will help facilitate communication with your faculty and supervisor(s) so they are aware that you will be absent from class for at least 14 days. You should email your professors and supervisor(s) to ask how you can engage with the class or job remotely. You do not need to disclose the reason for your absence, only the expected duration of time. If you have an off-campus job that requires documentation for absence, please work with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
Respond to communications from the local health department
A positive case prompts a contact-tracing investigation by the local health department. If the Ottawa County Department of Public Health calls or texts you, respond immediately. They will not reveal who shared your name. Please provide all information to the health department as this is critical to helping stop the spread of the virus to the community.
Monitor your symptoms

Continue checking yourself everyday for COVID-19 symptoms, which include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus, and may range from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Complete the quarantine period when you get clearance.

Return to your regular housing, classes and on-campus activities only when you meet the criteria for ending quarantine.  Visit our Returning to Campus After Isolation and Quarantine page for more information. 


Yes. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.


No. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, quarantine needs to last for at least 14 days regardless of testing results. Even if you are tested and the test is negative, you still have to be quarantined.


Yes, you may go home to quarantine, unless we are instructed otherwise by the local health department. If going home, you must follow these rules: 

  • You may not use public transportation to go home. 
  • If you become ill, someone (e.g., a family member) must be responsible to pick you up in their personal vehicle. You must remain in quarantine until you are picked up.
  • Once you are at home, you must follow public health guidelines strictly.
  • You may return to campus once you have met appropriate college and public health guidelines to be cleared.


It is your prerogative to tell others about being a close contact. While it is expected that you tell your professors and supervisors about your absence, you are not required to disclose the reasons for your absence. If you choose to tell people that you are a close contact, they may begin to worry about whether they are a close contact, too. Please note: When somebody is identified as a close contact, they will be formally notified by the local health department and possibly the college. Your close friends and family are not considered close contacts just because they have had contact with you. A “contact-to-a-contact” does not need to be tested nor do they need to quarantine unless they are experiencing symptoms, in which case they should notify their healthcare provider right away. If an individual is concerned about having had close contact with someone who may have COVID-19, they should contact their healthcare provider.

For more information, please visit the CDC's website, When to Quarantine.