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COVID-19: Coronavirus FAQs for Parents

Campus updates


AUG. 7 UPDATE: New information about the University’s plans for the fall, and how they may affect students, faculty, staff and campus visitors, is available on the Fall 2020 website. Employees should also consult Human Resources’ Fall 2020 Campus Workplace and Operations website. The Fall 2020 and HR websites have the most up-to-date information as of Aug. 7, 2020. 

Are there cases of COVID-19 at Princeton?

Princeton’s University Health Services will provide regular updates on cases that they are aware of on the main page of this website (see Latest Updates section). 

Students, faculty, staff, researchers and postdocs should notify University Health Services of all COVID-19 tests by any health care provider in any jurisdiction. Please notify UHS by emailing if they are tested for coronavirus by any health care provider in any jurisdiction. This notification will allow UHS to conduct additional contact tracing and determine if there was any potential exposure to other members of the campus community so that they can take appropriate next steps to mitigate further spread of the virus.  

Due to limitations in testing and other factors, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 likely understates its prevalence in the University community. For that reason, it is especially important for everyone to practice social distancing and follow other public health guidance.  

For updated information about COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s website.


Will classes be canceled?

To facilitate social distancing, all lectures, seminars and precepts moved to virtual instruction on March 23 through the end of spring 2020. The spring semester has now concluded and there are no University classes scheduled for the summer.  Information about the undergraduate teaching program and plans for the fall 2020 semester will be announced in early July.

Travel guidelines

Will University-sponsored travel be canceled because of coronavirus?

All University-sponsored international travel is prohibited. Non-essential University-sponsored domestic travel should be postponed or canceled. These restrictions will not apply to University-sponsored travel required to return to campus by community members who are currently studying or working remotely. 

As of 5 p.m. EDT March 14, the University asked all students studying abroad to return to their permanent residence by March 23, 2020. This is an expansion of the University’s previous suspension of study abroad programs in Europe, China and other countries following travel restrictions issued by the federal government and the declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The University continues to work with students on arrangements to return to their permanent residences and to help defray travel costs, as well as to discuss future academic options and accommodations. Any questions should be directed to the Office of International Programs or Study Abroad Program. 

Should my student cancel personal travel plans because of coronavirus?

All personal international travel is strongly discouraged.


How to reduce risk

What can my student do to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus?

The best things you can do are the same as those for preventing flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Then throw the tissue in the trash and disinfect your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you have not already been immunized against the flu, contact University Health Services to schedule your free flu shot.

Should my student wear a face covering in public?

On April 2, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend the use of cloth face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The guidance also clarifies that this recommendation is to use cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N95 masks, as those are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

In addition, Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order requiring everyone in New Jersey to wear a face covering when entering any retail establishment or restaurant for take-out orders and when riding public transportation. The Governor’s Executive Orders also apply to Campus Dining facilities. Campus Dining staff are wearing face coverings, and all students entering dining halls to pick up meals must wear face coverings as well. Face coverings include cloth masks, bandanas, scarves, or other items that allow fabric to cover the nose and mouth. 

Quarantine guidelines

I’ve been hearing the terms quarantine and isolation a lot. What is the difference?

While both isolation and quarantine refer to methods of preventing the spread of illness, they do not mean the same thing.

  • Isolation refers to separating people who are sick from those who are not sick.
  • Quarantine refers to separating people who are, or may have been, exposed to a pathogen, but are not showing signs of illness. Quarantine is used to make sure individuals are not contagious by minimizing contact with people who were not exposed during an illness’ incubation period — the time it takes for symptoms to emerge.

Individuals will be directed to follow these guidelines for monitoring your health and limiting contact with others during self-quarantine.

If my student requires self-quarantine or self-isolation, where will they be housed?

Students on campus will be advised to go home if they can travel safely. Otherwise, we will move them to a safe place for quarantine or isolation on or near campus and provide support.


Health guidance

What should students do if they have symptoms of coronavirus?

For students who remain on campus: If you are exhibiting symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, call McCosh Health Center (609-258-3141). They will provide advice on what to do next.

For students who are no longer on campus: Contact your personal health care provider. If you are tested for coronavirus, you must immediately notify University Health Services by emailing . This notification will allow UHS to conduct additional contact tracing and determine if there was any potential exposure to other members of the campus community so that they can take appropriate next steps to mitigate further spread of the virus.  

Students enrolled in the University’s Student Health Plan (SHP) can find more information on coverage for COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 related services on the University Health Services website.

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