Campus Community Health Information

Campus Community Health Information

Valparaiso University Protocols & Guidance for Respiratory Illnesses

(Updated March 2024)

  • When individuals become ill from a respiratory virus (such as COVID-19, flu, etc.), they are strongly encouraged to stay home and away from others.
  • During this period of illness, students may return to their primary home, off-campus residence, or they may stay in their residence hall. Temporary isolation rooms are no longer being offered by the University.  Therefore, those staying in their rooms must wear a mask and visit the Student Health Center where they will receive further instructions and guidance from a medical professional.
  • Individuals may return to normal activities when, for at least 24-hours, their symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without use of a fever-reducing medication.
  • Students should coordinate directly with their faculty to make arrangements for their academic work if they are ill and cannot attend class in person due to their illness. Students may work with the Dean of Students office if they need a medical-related notice sent to their faculty.
  • Once an individual resumes normal activities, they are strongly encouraged to take additional prevention measures for the next five (5) days to prevent any virus spreading to others within the community, such as enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, and/or keeping a distance from others.


COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever or chills, Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle or body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Congestion or runny nose, Nausea or vomiting, Diarrhea.

How Transmitted

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
  1. Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  2. Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  3. Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
How to Protect Self and Others from Disease

In addition to basic health and hygiene practices, like handwashing, CDC recommends some prevention actions at all COVID-19 Community Levels, which include:

  • Staying Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Improving Ventilation
  • Getting Tested for COVID-19 If Needed
  • Following Recommendations for What to Do If You Have Been Exposed
  • Staying Home If You Have Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
  • Seeking Treatment If You Have COVID-19 and Are at High Risk of Getting Very Sick
  • Avoiding Contact with People Who Have Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
Treatment for Disease

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), to help you feel better.

If you test positive and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available. Medications to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective. Contact a healthcare provider right away to determine if you are eligible for treatment, even if your symptoms are mild right now.

People who are more likely to get very sick include older adults (ages 50 years or more, with risk increasing with age), people who are unvaccinated, and people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, or a weakened immune system. Being vaccinated makes you much less likely to get very sick. Still, some vaccinated people, especially those ages 65 years or older or who have other risk factors for severe disease, may benefit from treatment if they get COVID-19. A healthcare provider will help decide which treatment, if any, is right for you. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are taking other medications to make sure the COVID-19 treatments can be safely taken at the same time.

University COVID-19 Protocols & Guidelines as of Fall 2023:
  • Symptomatic individuals should wear a mask and test themselves for COVID-19.
  • If individuals test positive for COVID-19, they should self-isolate at their primary home for at least five full days. Please visit this website for the latest CDC information on isolation timing and protocols.
  • If students cannot return to their primary home, they may self-isolate in their residence hall or request a temporary quarantine room.
    • Please note that quarantine housing is very limited and may not be available.
    • Students will be responsible for making their own food/meal arrangements during their isolation period on campus through a colleague or friend, and dining plan meals are available.
    • If a student is able to return home for their isolation period, they are very strongly encouraged to do so.
  • Students should coordinate directly with their faculty to make arrangements for their academic work, as they cannot attend class in person during their self-isolation period. Advise the faculty that you will be unable to attend class for a 5-day period.
  • After completing a 5-day self-isolation, individuals can return to class/campus but must follow a strict mask requirement for five (5) additional days.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.


People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include, Fever, Chills, Swollen lymph nodes, Exhaustion, Muscle aches and backache, Headache, Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough).

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

You may experience all or only a few symptoms. Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

How Transmitted

Anyone can get monkeypox as it is transmitted by skin contact, and sexual contact is not required for transmission. Please also be mindful that there are various skin and genetic conditions (such as acne) that may resemble monkeypox. Respect for the dignity of all people is a Valpo value, and it is inconsistent with our community values to make assumptions about anyone, especially someone unfortunately sick with this virus.

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions.

This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:

  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox.
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels.

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

How to Protect Self and Others from Disease

The best steps you can take regarding monkeypox, COVID-19, and other health matters is to practice good health hygiene, stay home if you are not feeling well, contact your medical provider if you have symptoms, sanitize hands and surfaces regularly, and wear a mask in appropriate settings. Avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a rash that could be monkeypox. You can prevent infection by avoiding contact with people diagnosed with monkeypox and wearing a mask if you are in contact with someone who has symptoms or a confirmed case. Do not share plates, silverware, or cups. Do not touch or share sheets, blankets, towels, or clothing.

While there are effective vaccines against monkeypox, supplies are limited at this time. Currently, the CDC recommends vaccines for those who have been exposed to monkeypox, or are more susceptible to the monkeypox virus.

Treatment for Disease

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.

Taking Care of Yourself

  • Use gauze or bandages to cover the rash to limit spread to others and to the environment.
  • Don’t lance (pop) or scratch lesions from the rash. This does not speed up recovery and can spread the virus to other parts of the body, increase the chance of spreading the virus to others, and possibly cause the open lesions to become infected by bacteria.
  • Do not shave the area with the rash until the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed. Shaving can spread the virus and cause more lesions.
  • Keep skin lesions/rash clean and dry when not showering or bathing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with the rash.
  • If you have a rash on your hands, be careful when washing or using sanitizer so as not to irritate the rash.
  • If you have a rash on your hands, wear gloves that are non-irritating when handling common objects or touching surfaces in shared spaces.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around other people until the rash and all other symptoms have resolved.
  • Eat healthy and get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal.
  • Medicines like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help you feel better. Your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger pain relievers as well.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if pain becomes severe and unmanageable at home.
Procedure for Positive Test

Students with monkeypox symptoms, a new or unexplained rash, or who have been exposed to the disease, should call the Student Health Center which can provide guidance, testing and treatment.

If you potentially have monkeypox, cover all rashes with clothes, gloves, bandages, and wear a mask.
Avoid touching anyone or exposing others until you have been to the doctor and received directions.
If your test result is positive, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead if possible, to avoid eye infection.

Stay in a space away from others until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. This may mean wearing a mask and always cleaning and disinfecting frequently.

The University will require infected students to leave campus, return home, and go into isolation and forgo in-person classes or activities while infectious, which is between two (2) and four (4) weeks. On-campus isolation in a single space for this extended period of time is not in anyone’s best interests. For international students who currently reside in on-campus University housing, isolation options may be made available.

What is Influenza (Flu) and how do I prevent it?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

Flu Symptoms

Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
How Flu Spreads

The flu viruses spread by tiny droplets from a cough, sneeze or someone talking. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.  The flu virus can be spread by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.

Period of Contagiousness and Onset of Symptoms
  • You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
  • People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
  • The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days, but can range from about 1 to 4 days.
Diagnosing Flu

It is very difficult to distinguish flu from other viral or bacterial respiratory illnesses based on symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. Visit your health care provider if you think you have the flu. There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.