Public Health FAQs about Fall 2022

COVID-19 Testing Information

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be expected to follow CDC isolation guidelines. If you are a residential student, you will remain in your current residence hall room. When using a shared bathroom, you will be required to mask and disinfect surfaces after use. With a well fitting mask, you will be permitted to visit campus retail restaurants during Dining Dollar meal periods and order your food to go. During AYCTE meal periods, you may pick up a replacement meal from the cashier at the main entrance to the Commons. Should you have the option available — and provided you can do so within safety guidelines — you will be permitted to relocate to your permanent home or any alternative off-campus housing where you can be safe and comfortable. The Health Center encourages all students to call to report their positive case (253-535-7337) and if they have any medical or other COVID related questions or concerns and need guidance.

What do I need to do if I test positive for COVID-19 away from campus or by using a home test?

Students who develop symptoms of or test positive for COVID must contact the Health Center for guidance on the management of their case.

What does it mean to be a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

The CDC defines Close Contact through proximity and duration of exposure: Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

What steps do I need to take if I am a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

  • Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed.
  • Start counting from Day 1
    • Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19.
    • Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.
  • You can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed.
  • Take precautions (such as wearing a close-fitting, high-quality mask when around others indoors) and watch for symptoms.
    • If you are experiencing symptoms, contact the Health Center.
  • Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure.
    • If you test negative, continue masking through day 10.
    • If you test positive, isolate immediately and contact the Health Center.

Why aren’t students who test positive for COVID-19 being placed into Isolation housing?

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be expected to follow CDC guidelines.  For residential students, this guidance involves isolating in their assigned residence, with the option for relocation to your permanent home or any alternative off-campus housing where you can be safe and comfortable.  A well-fitting mask must be worn when in the presence of others which should be limited.  If using a shared bathroom, touched surfaces should be disinfected after use.

As much as possible, the University is striving to manage COVID-19 measures and responses within our traditional approaches. This is in part a recognition that through vaccination and previous exposure, in addition to the lessening severity of variants, the least disruptive approach for an individual and their community is to allow them to remain in their residence provided risk mitigation measures are adhered to.

Am I required to report my positive COVID case to the Health Department?

Washington State Department of Health is requesting that all positive cases found through home antigen testing be reported. Reporting has been simplified by the use of a new app called Say Yes! Covid Test. The app will take you to a page with an orange box titled “Record a Test Result.” This app is also a way to order ten (10) at-home antigen tests on a first come, first served basis, with best results when ordering test kits at the beginning of each month. Remember that at-home tests are also available at the Campus Safety office and OMM in the AUC.


Are we required to wear masks during move-in?

Based on current case numbers in Pierce County (as of August 10, 2022), masking indoors is recommended but not required. Mask wearing is supported at all times and strongly encouraged for major Welcome Weekend events such as residence hall move-in, The CAVE Open House, and New Student Orientation programs, especially during indoor gatherings and when large groups of people are present together for an extended period of time. [from CLIF Summer Messaging]

What happens if my roommate tests positive for COVID-19? Who do I contact in the evenings or on weekends?

If your roommate tests positive for COVID-19, they will remain in your current shared residence. You will be prioritized for testing at the Health Center and expected to test in a timely manner, and as soon as possible if you develop symptoms. If you do not test positive, you will be able to remain in your space. Under CDC guidelines for close contacts, you will be able to fully participate in campus life, provided you wear a mask in the presence of others, including your roommate. Alternate accommodations may be considered and can be arranged by contacting the Campus Life office. If the Campus Life office is closed (evenings, weekends, holidays), contact your RA on Duty who will connect with the Community Director On Call to assist you.

I don’t feel safe around other students — can I get a single?

Short answer is “no.”

The longer answer: Pacific Lutheran University highly values the roommate experience and what students gain by living in community. First-year students are assigned a roommate, and returning students can apply to have a single room based on priority at the time of housing sign-up. Students who are seeking an accommodation based on a medical need should apply through the Accessibility and Accommodation Application, which requires a medical provider’s supporting documentation.

Monkeypox Information

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.  Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox.  Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.  It can cause flu-like symptoms and a rash, sometimes the rash can be quite painful.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease as it can be transmitted by any direct physical contact between someone’s rash, scabs, bodily fluids and another person.  This can include sexual activity but also includes any touching of the lesions/rash between people or even touching clothing or bedding that an infected person used.  In this current outbreak many of the cases to date are related to individuals who contracted it due to close physical contact during sexual activity.

What do I do if I think I have monkeypox?

Seek medical care and avoid close physical contact and gatherings, including sex with others, until you know for sure.  Wear a mask and cover your rash when you need to go out for medical appointments.  Talk to your partners about any recent illnesses or rashes they might have.

If you have a rash and think you might be at risk for monkeypox due to an exposure or high-risk activities, call the Health Center (253-535-7337) for an appointment with a provider, call the MultiCare Nurse Consulting Line (253-792-6410), or contact LuteTeleHealth/TimelyMD to speak to one of their medical providers.  If you seek in-person care, make sure to wear a mask and cover any lesions you have with clothing.

The Health Center can conduct monkeypox testing; results may take a few days.  If your provider is concerned that you have monkeypox, you will need to isolate until you get results.

What happens if I test positive for monkeypox?

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
If you test positive for monkeypox, you will be required to isolate outside your current living situation. Due in part to the extended isolation period, if at all possible, students will be required to isolate at their permanent home

What happens if my roommate tests positive for monkeypox?

If your roommate tests positive for monkeypox, your roommate will be required to isolate outside your current living situation. You will be able to remain in your space, observing the recommended precautions in accordance with Student Health Center guidance.

How do I find out if I'm eligible for the monkeypox vaccine and where can I get it?

Tacoma Pierce County Health Department is scheduling monkeypox vaccine events. Their webpage has information on vaccine eligibility, and locations, dates and times of vaccine events. This TPCHD page will be updated as more clinics are added.

Preventative measures

Should I get COVID booster and a flu shot?

Yes, we are strongly encouraging all persons​ to get a flu shot and to stay up to date with COVID boosters. Both jabs can be done at the same time. We are not offering​ COVID vaccines or boosters at the Flu Shot Clinic. These are available at local pharmacies and TPCHD vaccine events.

Does getting a flu shot interfere at all with receiving a COVID booster shot? If I plan to do both, which comes first? Does it matter?

​Immunology experts have found no interference or diminished capacity of either vaccine when given at the same time.

​It doesn’t matter which vaccine you receive first.​ Take advantage of getting them at the same time, if you have that option.  

How long between shots should I wait?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a recommendation to space COVID and other vaccines 2-4 weeks apart. That was to reduce confusion about which vaccine might be causing an adverse reaction. By now there has been so much experience with the COVID vaccines, this no longer a concern.

Do I really need to get a flu shot this year? Cases of flu have been very low since the pandemic started.

Health officials are warning that flu season may be more severe than normal. That’s because we haven’t had much of a flu season in recent years, and our immunities have waned. Also, as more and more of us take off our masks, there is greater risk of transmission of viral illnesses like the flu. Wear a mask if you have even mild cold or allergy symptoms and get tested for COVID. Stay home if you are more significantly ill and call the Health Center (students) or your healthcare provider (employees) for advice.

University precautions and procedures

What precautions is the university taking regarding COVID and monkeypox?

The university continues to follow the COVID and monkeypox mitigation guidelines provided by local public-health authorities (Tacoma–Pierce County Public Health) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), as well as other standard points of reference. These precautions include mitigation measures that have proven effective during prior phases of COVID, such as enhanced cleaning protocols, access to testing, adherence to masking recommendations, and prevention education.

What are the chances of the university going remote due to rising cases of either COVID or MPV?

As we have learned to live with COVID and are applying that learning to monkeypox mitigation strategies, PLU moving to remote learning is highly unlikely.

[From a parent] Will I be contacted if my student contracts either virus?

If your student is a legal adult, their health information is protected, meaning we are not allowed to communicate their health status to a parent or family member. Students may choose to share this information with you, especially as they consider the best setting for their recovery.