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Reporting, Testing, Tracing & Safety FAQs

Last Modified: Thursday, August 4, 2022 4:27 pm

Answers to Common Questions on COVID-19 Reporting, Testing, Tracing and General Safety

Have a question on how reporting, testing, and tracing are conducted at Montclair State University? Find the answers here.


How can I get tested?

Any member of the University community who wants to be tested for COVID-19 can get a free test on campus. For hours and location, visit the On Campus COVID-19 Testing page.

I’ve been vaccinated or just got my booster shot, now what?

If you’ve been fully vaccinated, don’t wait. Report your vaccination status today! As soon as you get a booster shot, remember to upload that information.

Reporting your vaccination status enables the University to know how many members of the campus community have been vaccinated, so we can make appropriate policies and decisions to benefit all of us. Get more information.

Information for Students on Submitting Immunizations

What do I do if someone tells me they’ve tested positive for COVID-19?

  • If you are a student, and another student informs you they have tested positive for COVID, tell them to complete Hawk Check immediately. This applies whether you are on campus, or working or studying remotely. Completing Hawk Check enables our medical staff to step in to address the situation, including advising the person to enter isolation. For on-campus cases, our staff also reaches out to notify and advise their close contacts.
  • If you are a member of faculty or staff and someone from the University community shares with you that they have tested positive for COVID, please follow the steps outlined below in Faculty & Staff Procedures.

I tested positive for COVID-19. Do I need to tell the University?

Yes. If you get a positive test result, you should report it on Hawk Check, isolate yourself, and expect a phone call from our health care professionals. You are not required to inform your professors, supervisor (or anyone else) that you have COVID – but you do need to let them know that based on your responses to Hawk Check, you will not be able to come to the campus. You will be asked to provide a list of people you have been in close contact with recently, and the University’s contact tracers will those people of a possible exposure to someone with COVID as part of the contact tracing process. Employees: your supervisor will be informed by Benefits that you have been placed in isolation and are the date on which you are expected return to working on campus. Students: your professors will be informed by the Dean of Students office that you cannot come to class in-person for a period of time.

How do I tell the difference between cold, flu and COVID-19?

In short: It’s hard to tell the difference. So don’t mess around. Get tested.

“The average person will not be able to tell the difference between flu and COVID-19,” Professor of Biology Sandra Adams told “When you find the combination of fever, cough, fatigue, you won’t be able to determine whether that’s the flu or COVID. I’d say, get a test.” And don’t forget to do Hawk Check!

Testing plays a key role in limiting the spread of the virus, and with more people inside during the colder months, it’s even more important. Anyone can be tested in New Jersey – no prescription is required. Find out how to get tested here.

The COVID Alert NJ smartphone app allows users to search for test sites by zip code. Find out more or download the app here.

How can I stay safe indoors?

  • Practice social distancing by maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, wherever practicable.
  • Wear a face covering indoors and when you cannot maintain social distancing outdoors. You can read the University’s Policy on Face Masks and Face Coverings here.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water or by applying hand sanitizer frequently and after touching items or surfaces such as door handles, tables, desktops, shared workstations or microphones, or electronic registers/screens.

Do Hawk Check every day, Monday through Friday, and if you are planning to come to the campus on weekends or holidays. Do it every day if you live on campus. Hawk Check will let you know if you should come in or stay home. It alerts our healthcare providers, who will call to check on you and provide advice and support.

Stay home when you are sick. Whether it is COVID, the flu or just a cold – the best thing to do is stay home, get medical treatment if needed, and avoid other people.

Should I double up my mask?

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that using a KN 95 mask or adding a snug-fitting cloth mask over a surgical mask will help add extra protection. However, it is acceptable to continue to wear a single mask if you are more comfortable with that option. Regardless of what kind of mask you choose, the most important take-away from the CDC report is to wear a mask that fits. Your mask should fit snugly and should cover your nose and fit under your chin.

Faculty & Staff Procedures

What should a faculty member do if a student reports a positive test result or having been exposed to someone with COVID?

  • Remind the student to report that immediately on Hawk Check, which will alert the University Health Center (UHC). Health Center staff will follow up with the student to gather information and advise the student to be tested. Vaccinated students who have been exposed and do not have symptoms may remain on campus, pending their test results. Based on the facts of the individual case, some students may be placed in isolation or quarantine by our clinicians. In that case, you will be informed by the Dean of Students Office, just as you are for any situations in which students may not be able to attend class for medical reasons. Because it may take a few days for you to get the Dean of Students message, you can also ask the student to show you the email they get from the University Health Center telling them to enter isolation or quarantine.
  • As a back-up, or if you have questions, faculty members should also send a message to Administrators who monitor that account will alert the University Health Center.
  • Please keep an eye on your email or phone messages, in case our clinicians are trying to reach you. They may need information that is helpful in tracing the infected person’s contacts.
  • If the student is positive for COVID-19, contact tracers will identify his or her close contacts and reach out to them. If necessary, they will place the close contacts in quarantine as a precaution.
  • Faculty members will be notified by the Dean of Students Office when a student in one of their classes will be absent because they have been placed in isolation (if sick) or quarantined (as a precautionary measure), so that they can make appropriate accommodations for that student. Tp protect private health information, instructors are not notified when a student reports symptoms or exposures on Hawk Check – only when they’ve been told not to come to campus for any reason. 
  • To protect the privacy of the student, faculty members should not share information about student health with colleagues, students or other people. Everyone who needs to know will be informed individually by a contact tracer.
  • More information for faculty can be found at Spring 2022 Teaching FAQs and Planning for Disruption.

If a student informs an instructor that they have been advised to isolate or quarantine by a contact tracer, should the instructor wait until hearing from the Dean of Students to excuse the student from in-person attendance?

No. It will often take 3 to 6 days from when a University Health Center clinician first speaks with a student who “fails” Hawk Check to the point when the Dean of Students can inform instructors.  This happens because there are many steps involved, including testing, getting results, uploading results, and more. Therefore, if a student confirms that they has received quarantine or isolation directions from a UHC contact tracer, please take their word for it – or ask to see the email they received from the Health Center placing them in isolation or quarantine.  If you have not received an email of confirmation from the Dean of Students office within one week, contact the Dean of Students office to inquire further.

More information for faculty can be found at Spring 2022 Teaching FAQs and

Information Flow & Protocols

What is the information flow when a positive or exposure case is reported to the UHC or to Occ Health?

  • A healthcare professional contacts the individual to gather information and provide advice. This initiates the contact-tracing process. The healthcare professional will also periodically check in with the individual over the next several days.
  • Occupational Health (employees) or the University Health Center (students) contacts those individuals that have been identified as close contacts and instructs them on quarantine requirements.
  • Occupational Health communicates with HR/Benefits based on the  employee’s response to Hawk Check. HR/Benefits will then handle details about pay, benefits, sick leave, and return to work.
  • HR/Benefits contacts the employee and his/her supervisor upon notification by Occupational Health and conducts a follow up five days after notification to check in and explain ‘return to work’ process
  • HR/Benefits informs Occupational Health when an employee is cleared to return to work.
  • The University Health Center coordinates with the Dean of Students Office, which informs faculty members when a student in one of their courses has been placed in isolation or quarantine.

Remember: Faculty members and supervisors should not share information about COVID exposures or diagnoses with their students, colleagues or other people. Doing so could violate the privacy of the individual. Everyone who needs to know will be individually informed by contact tracers.

How does the University learn when someone has tested positive for COVID?

  • From tests that the University administers in our surveillance testing program or in the University Health Center.
  • From the local health departments, who share information with the University Health Center on everyone who tests positive and has provided a campus address to the testing lab.
  • From self-reports provided via Hawk Check or through other means.
  • From case investigation and contact tracing.

What happens when the University learns that someone has tested positive for COVID?

The University Health Center or Occupational Health contacts the individual to gather information and to initiate isolation (for someone who is sick) or quarantine (for someone who is unvaccinated may have been exposed but is not sick). The time parameters are:

  • Isolation is for a minimum of 10 days, depending on factors such as symptoms and test date.
  • Quarantine is for a minimum of 14 days, starting from the date of exposure.
  • Release from quarantine and isolation will be determined by the University Health Center or Occupational Health.
  • Contact tracers will ask the infected person for a list of all individuals who they may have been in close contact with, and will follow up with those people and will use additional interviewing and electronic data as required. If the facts indicate that an unvaccinated person was in close contact, defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period, then that person will be instructed to enter a 14-day quarantine as a precaution.
  • Those individuals determined to not be at risk will not have to quarantine

Contact tracers do not share information with people who do not need to know it.

Clinicians in UHC or Occ Health will make recommendations for follow up testing when appropriate.

What kinds of information may be shared, and by whom?

  • Faculty and supervisors will be informed when a student or direct report has been placed in quarantine or isolation, but they must not share that information with students, colleagues or other people.
  • Official notification of quarantine and the dates for quarantine will be established only by the clinicians in the University Health Center or Occupational Health.
  • Students or employees cannot determine those dates independently.

Faculty and staff are requested not to send notifications to classes or individual students, or work groups or individual employees, about the need to be tested, or to enter or leave quarantine or isolation. All such communication will be sent from the University Health Center or Occupational Health. This rule exists to assure that accurate information is provided to those who need it, in a timely way and to assure that false, incomplete or misleading information does not circulate and cause unnecessary anxiety or pose a risk to the privacy of individuals.