COVID-19 Contact Tracing

What is a close contact?

Graphic image of three people in a circle

Carolina continues to work in close collaboration with the Orange County Health Department (OCHD) on contact tracing. Campus Health, UEOHC and OCHD are continuing to follow the CDC definition of a close contact. If anyone — faculty, staff or student — is considered to be a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they will be individually contacted as part of the tracing process.

Being a close contact will mean you have been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes cumulative time, regardless of whether a face mask was worn by either party.

If you are not contacted or if a positive case is not in your household, then you are not considered a close contact. For example, people who are at least six feet apart in a classroom or group setting will typically not be considered a close contact. For more information, you can visit the Campus Health webpage or the EHS webpage.

How does contact tracing work?


Press the play button above to learn more about contact tracing.

If a member of the Carolina community – including students, faculty and staff – tests positive for COVID-19, we will follow standard contact tracing protocols to identify and communicate directly with those who had close contact with the individual.

All students, faculty and staff are required to participate in COVID-19 contact tracing, including reporting positive tests, providing information on potential close contacts, responding to outreach from contact tracing staff or volunteers and updating your contact information in ConnectCarolina 

Campus Health, with guidance from the local Health Department, conducts close contact tracing when students and post-doctoral fellows test positive for COVID-19. Your name and information will not be shared and remains confidential.  

In addition, if you receive outreach from University or county health contact tracing staff or volunteers, you are required to take follow-up steps including entering quarantine or isolation and taking a COVID-19 test as directed.  

Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing is available at Carolina Together Testing Center at the Carolina Union. This includes asymptomatic testing if you have been contacted as part of COVID-19 Contact Tracing by Campus Health, UEOHC ,or the Orange County Health Department or your local health department. You should not go to Campus Health for contact tracing testing.

Visit the Campus Health website for more information.

The COVID-19 Community Standards outline student, faculty and staff responsibilities for providing accurate information on close contacts.

Student Specific Contact Tracing Guidance

Graphic image of three people in a circle

Students identified as a close contact, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, should continue to wear a mask at all times indoors and when in groups outdoors. If you test positive for COVID-19 at any point, you will need to go into isolation.

I’ve been vaccinated I have not been vaccinated
Do I need to quarantine? No Yes
When do I need to get a COVID-19 test? After 3-5 days, or immediately if symptomatic Test immediately and at day 5-7, or as soon as symptoms develop
Can I stay in my on-campus residence? Yes No
Can I stay in my off-campus residence? Yes Yes, but you should quarantine from any roommates
Can I attend in-person classes? Symptomatic: Get tested ASAP; don’t attend class until the test result returns
Asymptomatic: Get tested; you may attend class unless symptoms arise or you receive a positive test result
Do I need to wear a mask? Yes Yes
How long is the process? Monitor Symptoms for 14 days Quarantine for 10 days after last known contact and monitor for symptoms for 14 days

If you have been identified as a close contact and need to be tested or have questions about any of these steps, contact Campus Health at or 919-966-2281

Do I need to participate in contact tracing if I have been fully vaccinated?

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Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccination are still subject to contact tracing guidelines, although they may not be subject to quarantine or isolation guidelines.  

How are results of COVID-19 testing communicated to the UNC community?


The UNC-Chapel Hill COVID-19 Dashboard helps us track and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on the overall health of our campus community.

Consistent with the State Human Resources Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as well as other privacy considerations, schools, departments and units should not communicate about COVID-19 positive cases broadly to their populations. Individuals who have been potentially exposed to the positive case will be notified through the University’s contact tracing procedures, making broad communications unnecessary.

The University is committed to communicating important information in a timely manner while maintaining the privacy of students, faculty and staff. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for the University to inform specific campus populations – whether within a specific residence hall, office building, classroom or other defined campus environment – as an additional precaution, subject to important privacy laws that prevent the disclosure of information that may be used to identify the individual(s) who tested positive. The University will make decisions on any communications to specific campus populations based upon approved guidelines and coordinate decisions with schools, departments and units. The University will determine the release of non-identifying communications about clusters of positive results based on approved guidelines

The University notifies the local health department with the current local residence information for any individual who tests positive. This residence information is determined by where the student, faculty or staff member is living at the time the positive test occurs.

On August 28, 2020 the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Risk management made an announcement that the University will begin sharing information about COVID-19 clusters on the Carolina Together website.

Privacy Statement: Carolina Together Testing Program.