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Frequently Asked Questions


Oklahoma State University health officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of the coronavirus. Do you have specific medical questions about your health and the coronavirus? Please reach out to For health-related questions, please contact University Health Services.


Health and Prevention


  • What is a coronavirus?

    There are seven known coronaviruses that affect humans. They’re named coronavirus because of the crown-like spikes on their surface. The first was identified in the 1960s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The newest coronavirus is known as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

  • What is the Delta variant?

    The Delta variant is a faster-moving form of COVID-19 that has spread across the globe infecting both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.

    Viral load is roughly 1000 times higher in people infected with the Delta variant than those infected with the original coronavirus strain. It is much more transmissible.

    Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. The CDC has updated guidance for fully vaccinated people based on new evidence on the Delta variant.


  • What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus?

    Patients currently being treated for the novel coronavirus report mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea, diarrhea and difficulty breathing.

    Symptoms may appear as soon as two days after exposure or as long as 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.

  • How do I prevent novel coronavirus?

    You can limit your likelihood of contracting the novel coronavirus with the same methods you would use to avoid the flu. 

    • Schedule an appointment for the COVID vaccine.
    • Avoid crowds and close contact with people outside your household. Practice social/physical distancing (maintaining a distance of at least six feet).
    • Wear a mask (When properly worn, masks should cover nose and mouth).
    • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue into the trash.
    • Disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.
    • For more information on how you can prevent COVID-19, see the latest guidance from the CDC.
  • How does the virus spread?

    According to the CDC, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about six feet). The novel coronavirus spreads in much the same way as the flu or other respiratory illnesses spread, via respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. 

    For more information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 transmission, click here.

  • What screenings are being done by the university?

    If you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been in contact with someone suspected of COVID-19 exposure, or have general questions, please call University Health Services at (405) 744-7665 during normal business hours. UHS offers free testing for students and full-time employees. For more information on how to schedule a test or to report a covid case or exposure, visit the UHS website.

  • What type of COVID test does OSU’s University Health Services administer?

    University Health Services offers both the PCR and rapid test, depending on patient needs. All results are reported to the state health department and are counted as part of state and local COVID statistics.

  • Does UHS share student medical records with the Payne County Health Department?

    OSU is not giving the county access to student records, card swipes or Wi-Fi access points. University Health Services can use this information in assisting to find a student. UHS helps frequently with tracking down students who are difficult to reach or who may need to isolate.

  • What COVID-19 information is on the OSU dashboard?

    The OSU dashboard reflects all University Health Services testing and vaccination data. All self-reported testing data is also included. With the conclusion of the Spring 2021 semester, OSU will pause further updates to the Covid-19 dashboard until classes resume in the fall. Once classes resume, it will be updated weekly. The university will continue to monitor public health conditions via state and county health statistics.

  • Is there a shared COVID-19 database between OSU and the Payne County Health Department?

    OSU and Payne County both have access to the state reporting database. University Health Services communicates with the Payne County Health Department daily about shared cases.

  • What is my personal health responsibility?

    The following outlines expectations for all OSU students and employees while on campus. These are not only to protect your health, but the health of our entire community. Your continued support of these guidelines is appreciated.

    • All employees and students are asked to take special precautions to avoid exposure.
    • Sick employees and students must stay home.
    • Self screening should be performed each morning before arriving on campus.
    • Temperature must be less than 100.4⁰ F/38⁰ C. See CDC's symptom checker
    • Maintain social distancing guidelines. 
    • Remove unnecessary items in your personal work or living space to create clean counter spaces and support cleaning efforts on common surfaces. If additional cleaning is needed in an office space, please notify your supervisor.
  • I'm sick. Should I be tested for coronavirus?

    If you develop COVID symptoms and believe you have been exposed to COVID-19:

    • Before going to a doctor’s office or to an emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel. Your health care professional will work with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested.
    • Stay home unless you are seeking medical care. Avoid contact with others.
  • When should I seek emergency medical attention?

    Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion
    • Inability to wake or stay awake
    • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
    • *This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
  • What if I feel like I’ve been exposed to the virus?

    Stillwater-based students who feel as though they have been exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), are asked to stay home and call University Health Services (405-744-7665) during normal business hours, or your primary health care provider. A brief screening will be performed by a nurse over the telephone and further instructions on care will be given at that time. There is also an Oklahoma hotline through the Oklahoma State Department of Health for any individual with questions: 1-877-715-8336. If you are having a medical emergency, please go to your nearest emergency room.

    Tulsa-based students who think they may have been in contact with someone who has or who is suspected of having the novel coronavirus and develop a fever with a cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of contact, call your physician immediately to discuss your history. Call first instead of going directly to the hospital, where you may infect other people. If you need information about free or low-cost health care clinics in Tulsa, please contact OSU-Tulsa Campus Life.

  • What are the guidelines for quarantining?

    In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s important that every member of the Cowboy family follow quarantine guidelines.

    Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19 for 10 days after your last contact if you are unvaccinated. Your quarantine may be shortened to seven days if you have a negative test performed after your fifth day of quarantine and you have remained asymptomatic. Wear a mask in public through day 14 from your contact with the confirmed case. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.

    In coordination with local and state health officials, if you test positive for COVID-19 you must self-monitor your health and self-quarantine for 10 days at home or another off-campus location and not return until your symptoms are gone and you are 24-hours fever-free without medication. Student quarantine housing is available. If you are asked to self-isolate or self-quarantine you should stay home. Follow these guidelines for self-isolation: Report any symptoms of COVID-19 immediately to University Health Services, Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you have a health emergency, please go to the nearest emergency room.

    See the latest quarantine guidelines from the CDC.

  • If I’ve been diagnosed with COVID or been a close contact of someone who has been, when can I be around others?

    Please refer to this guide for information on when you can regain contact.

  • What is the process after a student tests positive for COVID-19?

    The student will be given information from a health care professional regarding the need to isolate for 10 days, whether in on-campus facilities, their current room if a private space or at home. Students who have a positive test will be entered into the state database. If a student tests positive off campus, they are asked to fill out a self-reporting form. The Payne County Health Department will work with them to contact trace and/or give further instructions. We are being proactive in asking our students to also contact Payne County Health Department so the process can begin as soon as possible.

  • Will masks still be required on campus?

    OSU expects the use of masks indoors in public. This includes classrooms, laboratories and all indoor meetings and gatherings. Masks reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others. Masking is recommended by the CDC even if you are fully vaccinated. You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
    Under Oklahoma law (EO 2021-16 and 70 O.S. 1210.189), we are not permitted to require the use of masks on campus. Two exceptions exist: Masks will still be required on transit buses due to Department of Transportation requirements, and masks will be required in certain areas of University Health Services.

  • What should a student who tests positive for COVID-19 in an off-campus test do?

    If students get tested elsewhere and are positive, they should still get a call from the county because that positive test will be entered into the state database. OSU may not be aware of it, however, so we ask for students to fill out a self-reporting form so we may ensure the student has everything they need, count them as a positive case on campus and help the health department with any needed contact tracing.

  • What do I need to know if I've previously tested positive for the virus?

    According to the CDC, a person who has recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to three months after diagnosis. This means if the person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within three months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19.

    Following recovery, if a person develops new symptoms of COVID-19, they may need an evaluation for reinfection, especially if the person has had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The person should isolate, contact a health care provider to be evaluated for other causes of their symptoms and possibly be retested.

    Whether or not they have had COVID-19, everyone should wash their hands regularly, stay at least six feet away from others whenever possible and wear masks.

    If you have had a previous positive COVID test and have concerns about your need to self-quarantine again or test again, please contact your local health provider, Payne County Health Department at (405) 372-8200  or University Health Services at 405-744-7665.

  • What’s the process for athletes in being tested for COVID-19?

    OSU Athletics maintains a separate dashboard and brings in additional staffing for COVID testing.

  • If I am traveling internationally, do I need to quarantine?

     Yes, the CDC recommends any unvaccinated international travelers self-quarantine for 7 days with a negative test or 10 days without a test when returning to the United States.

    If you are fully vaccinated, get tested 3-5 days after travel to ensure you aren’t carrying the virus and potentially infectious to others.

  • What happens when there is a positive COVID-19 case on campus?

    We follow the guidance of national and local health officials in our response to a positive diagnosis on campus. If we receive confirmation that an OSU student or employee has had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, there are important measures that will be promptly taken including quarantine or isolation, communication and facility disinfection. When a member of the OSU community self-reports they are symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, please fill out a self-reporting form with University Health Services immediately. Learn more.

  • What about contact tracing?

    UHS and Payne County Health Department continue to provide public health support and guidance in the face of rising case numbers. Due to the resources available in University Health Services, contact tracing efforts on campus will prioritize COVID-19 cases in communal living such as residence halls and Greek life. Faculty have been given guidance on notifying their class when a student tests positive without divulging identifying information about the student.

  • Is virtual counseling available?

    Virtual counseling is available through University Counseling Services. Services are also available through MDLive and through Grand Lake Mental Health Center. If you have any questions, please call 405-744-5458.



COVID Vaccinations

Vaccinations are now available for all Oklahoma residents over the age of 12. The state’s plan is available here.





University Operations


  • Is the university closed?

    Every campus in the OSU system is open.

  • Is the Student Union closed?

    The Student Union is open. Current building hours are 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Hours will be adjusted as students return to campus. Many of the services in the building have resumed regular operating hours. The most up-to-date Student Union, University Store and University Dining Services information can be found here. Some departments housed within the building are still telecommuting. Contact those offices directly to check availability. Find their contact information at

  • What cleaning measures are in place across campus?

    OSU Facilities Management provides touch-point cleaning and disinfecting daily in campus buildings and multiple times daily within areas of increased-use or higher risk. OSU maintains alcohol-based hand sanitizer and replacement wall-mount dispensers to refill the currently installed hand sanitizers located throughout campus. Facilities Management will work to procure and distribute necessary cleaning supplies for individual departments. Facilities Management (FM) has also purchased electrostatic and hydrogen peroxide vapor disinfection equipment for applying preventive disinfectant coverage to targeted areas. If an emergency response is required, FM has several third-party professionals ready and available to treat or remediate campus locations. OSU resumed running HVAC systems across the campus for an additional 3 hours per day on Aug 16. The air exchanges in the buildings about 8-10 times per hour which is approximately every 8 minutes. Additionally, we continue to use enhanced MERV 13 hospital grade air filters throughout the campus.

  • What is the plan for student housing in the fall?

    The student housing plan includes following community guidelines and adhering to university policies. We will be reopening student lounges and gathering spaces in the fall.

  • How are dining services impacted?

    University Dining Services plans regular operations for the fall semester. Some dining options are available via an online ordering app to reduce waiting time and take-out is encouraged.

  • What is being done to sanitize dining areas?
    • Tables and seating areas will be cleaned frequently.
    • No reusable condiment containers (salt, pepper, ketchup, sauces); condiments will be provided in single serve containers and discarded after use.
    • Buffet service is permitted provided that an employee serves patrons and is the only person touching service utensils or the buffet counter. Patrons shall not touch buffet service utensils or otherwise serve themselves from buffets. Health department regulations regarding buffet service are otherwise in full force and effect.
    • Employees shall not touch prepared food with hands; food shall be handled only with tongs, spatulas, single-use disposable gloves and similar food preparation/service instruments.
    • Hand sanitizer bottles or stations will be available to patrons.
    • All restroom surfaces including floors, sinks and toilet bowls shall be cleaned and disinfected. Paper products shall be stored in a closed cabinet.
    • Trash cans shall be placed near the door or within reach of the door.
    • Restrooms shall be supplied with liquid soap and paper towels; cloth towels are prohibited
  • How will the Campus Convenience Store operate?
    • Hand sanitizer will be provided, along with soap and water, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by the public and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public (e.g. cashiers).
    • Contactless payment systems will be provided or, if not feasible to do so, all payment portals, pens, and styluses will be disinfected after each use.  Other high-touch surfaces will be regularly disinfected.
  • What is being done at the Colvin Recreation Center to keep patrons safe?

    A housekeeper will be on staff at the Colvin during all operating hours continually cleaning areas by zone as well as repeatedly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces (handrails, door handles, push plates, etc.) multiple times daily. Fitness floor staff will clean equipment continuously throughout the day including equipment touch points (I.e. seats, handles, bars, and pins). Maximum capacity is 180 patrons. Learn more here.

  • Are masks required on campus?  

    To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, and in keeping with recently updated CDC guidance, OSU encourages the use of masks indoors in public, especially in situations in which social distancing is not possible and for activities with close contact with others. Masking is recommended by the CDC even if you are fully vaccinated. You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
    At this time under Oklahoma law (EO 2021-16 and 70 O.S. 1210.189), we are not permitted to require the use of masks on campus. Two exceptions exist: Masks will still be required on transit buses due to Department of Transportation requirements, and masks will be required in certain areas of University Health Services.

  • What else should I do to protect myself at work?

    Whenever possible, stay at least six feet from other people. Wash your hands often, try not to touch your face, and frequently disinfect work areas and high-touch items in your workplace with disinfecting cleanser. Do not share work materials or equipment, especially equipment used near the face. Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms by utilizing the self-screening checklist. and staying home if you experience any symptoms or otherwise feel ill.

  • Why should I wear a face covering?

    Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly advises wearing cloth face coverings as a way to protect one another from infection. It is important to note that face coverings are not a substitute for other prevention efforts, such as hand-washing and social distancing. Continue to stay six feet from others whenever possible and clean hands frequently to lower your risk of infection and your risk of infecting others.

  • How often do you need to wash your cloth face covering?

    The CDC recommends cloth face coverings be washed after each use.

  • What do I need to know about travel and study-abroad programs?

    The U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control continue to advise citizens to use an abundance of caution when planning any type of travel. Nations are implementing entry restrictions as new variants of the COVID-19 virus emerge.  Access to vaccines for local, host-country populations is limited in some areas, and reliable information on local vaccination rates is difficult to find. Although numerous countries are beginning to open their borders to vaccinated travelers from the United States, these policies remain unpredictable. University officials are continually monitoring global developments and will update this guidance when warranted. 

    With these circumstances in mind, a select number of faculty-led study abroad courses are currently planned for the 2021-2022 academic year. These programs are primarily during spring break and summer 2022 in countries and regions where health and safety conditions and local regulations allow for responsible travel. Faculty/Staff international travel, student exchange, and long-term study abroad programs have resumed on a limited, case-by-case basis considering a variety of health and safety parameters including current conditions in the destination country. The university asks that faculty planning study abroad programs carefully consider all risk-related variables, including the availability of testing in overseas locations.

    As OSU joins our peers in resuming student international travel, travel policies are being reviewed regularly and students should be assured that their health and safety is a primary concern of the university. Those considering overseas travel should be aware that vaccination, mask wearing, frequent COVID testing, and other health and safety precautions are expected of travelers. Most destinations and travel providers require vaccinations to enter the host country and have strict limits on access to public facilities and transportation based on vaccination and other factors. Because conditions remain fluid, both in terms of access to overseas destinations for US travelers and the evolving infection rates, students planning to participate in study abroad should be prepared for changes to the course or travel plans before and during their program. All travel involves some level of personal and financial risk, but OSU is continuously working to mitigate those risks as possible for travel courses. The university reserves the right to cancel previously approved programs if situations in the USA and/or the host country change. 

    Please contact the Study Abroad/NSE Office for more information on study abroad and the School of Global Studies and Partnerships for questions related to faculty/staff international travel.







Faculty and Staff

For work-related questions and other resources, please visit this page.

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