Respiratory Viruses

(Including COVID-19 and Influenza) 

University Health and Counseling Services (UH&CS) is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our students and our campus community. 

On March 1, 2024, the CDC released updated recommendations for how people can protect themselves and their communities from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. A five-day period of isolation is no longer required for infections with COVID-19. Instead, students*, faculty, and staff should follow the guidance below for any respiratory virus, including COVID-19 and influenza.

*Please note that, at this time, the updated guidance does not apply to healthcare personnel. Health science students should follow the infection and isolation guidance at the hospital or clinic in which they are working.

If you have symptoms of a respiratory virus (fever, chills, fatigue, cough, runny nose, headache):

Stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick).

You may return to your usual activities (including school and work), when, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

  1. Your symptoms are improving. AND
  2. You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medications).

When you return to your usual activities, take added precautions over the next 5 days to limit any spread of infection, including: 

  • Wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others.
  • Practice good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Consider steps for cleaner air, including bringing in fresh outside air, purifying indoor air, or gathering outdoors. 

If you develop a fever or you start to feel worse after you have gone back to normal activities, stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, both are true: your symptoms are improving overall, and you have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication). Then take added precaution for the next 5 days.

Steps you can take to prevent infection with a respiratory virus:

1. Get vaccinated! Remain up-to-date on COVID-19, influenza, and, for some, RSV vaccines.

  • UH&CS offers no-cost influenza vaccines.
  • Updated COVID-19 and RSV vaccines are available at local pharmacies.

2. Practice good hand washing.

3. Stay in tune with your health. When you may have a respiratory virus:

  • Use precautions to prevent spread, including wearing a mask and keeping your distance from others.
  • Seek health care promptly for testing and/or treatment if you have risk factors for severe illness; treatment may help lower your risk of severe illness.

COVID-19 Testing

Individuals no longer need to submit positive COVID-19 test results to UH&CS. 

Rapid antigen tests will remain available in the wellness vending machines.

Consider taking a COVID-19 test when you have symptoms, particularly if:

  • You are at increased risk of severe illness.
  • You are going to be gathering indoors with at-risk individuals.

Treatment for Respiratory Viruses

Treatment for most respiratory viruses consists of supportive care and medications to manage symptoms. Antibiotics will not treat a viral infection. 

Antiviral medications are available for COVID-19 and influenza. In general, these antiviral medications are most effective when taken as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. If you are at risk of serious illness, please contact your primary care provider to discuss medication options; ideally, you should have a plan before you get ill. Students may contact UH&CS or connect with a telemedicine provider any time through TimelyCare for consideration of a prescription. 


Students with symptoms of a respiratory virus should follow the guidance outlined above. In addition, students on the university meal plan should order grab-and-go meals, pick it up while wearing a well-fitting mask, and return to their residence hall to eat. If a student is too ill to leave to pick up a meal, please follow these instructions to have a friend pick up your meal. 

Students with mild symptoms may report their illness through This report will be reviewed by a nurse within one business day, and students will receive a secure message that provides them with information about managing their illness, guidance about when to return to class, and a letter verifying that they reported an illness to University Health and Counseling Services. The verification letter may be shared with faculty, advisors, and others as needed to document the illness.

Options for care:

Many illnesses caused by respiratory viruses can be managed at home or in your residence hall. Some of the common items used to manage symptoms, including ibuprofen and cough drops, are available in the wellness vending machines at no-cost.

Students who would like to schedule an appointment for an evaluation may do so through Telemedicine visits are also available any time through TimelyCare. After hours and on weekends, students may call 216.368.2450 to speak to the nurse on-call for medical advice.

Please note, students with severe or concerning symptoms, including but not limited to difficulty breathing and chest pain, should seek emergency care by calling 216.368.3333 on-campus or 911 off-campus, or going to the nearest Emergency Department.

Additional Information