Winter 2022: Isolation and illness guidance

A photo of a man wearing a medical mask and looking out a window. He is pulling back a white curtain.

What happens if isolation is required? Decision making and supports available to you

Staying home when sick or isolating when required is one of the most important ways our community members can contribute to making in-person learning and working as safe as possible.  

“I would like to thank our students, faculty and staff for caring for the health and safety of fellow community members. By taking the responsible steps of staying home when required, you are helping reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at McMaster,” said Susan Tighe, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “Our university is committed to being supportive, compassionate and flexible for our community members who are required to isolate.”  

McMaster has many layers of safety in place as part of our gradual return to in-person learning and working that help further reduce COVID-19 transmission, including our vaccination mandate, MacCheck health screening, masking indoors, physical distancing measures, training, ventilation planning and increased cleaning. 

The following includes information about isolating and what supports are available to you:

When is isolation required? 

Every day before attending in-person learning or work, everyone is required to complete MacCheck requirements. MacCheck includes questions found in the provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tool which will tell you if you must isolate.   

Our campus community is relying on each of us to make informed decisions about isolation. In most instances, isolation is required if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation is also required if you live in the same household as someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive. If the provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tool indicates you need to isolate, it will also tell you how long isolation is required. If you are returning to a high-risk setting (i.e. clinical or health care) isolation requirements may be extended. Please read the tool carefully

What happens if I need to isolate and what supports are available? 

For everyone: 

  • If the provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tool indicates that isolating is required, follow the province’s current isolation guidelines, which are provided in the tool. Ontario Public Health has also provided guidance on how to isolate.  
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (even with a negative rapid antigen test or PCR test) you are still expected to follow the isolation recommendations you receive from the Provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tool.   
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or a PCR test and have attended a McMaster location in the past 14 days, complete the COVID-19 Positive Case Reporting Tool in Mosaic. 

In addition to the above guidance for all of McMaster’s community members, below you will find information specifically targeted for students, faculty and staff.


  • Students are encouraged to use the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) through Mosaic if their screening results recommend that they isolate and are not permitted to come to campus. The MSAF is available in Mosaic by navigating to the student centre and clicking the drop-down menu under ‘other academics.’
  • For Winter 2022 term, the MSAF will cover missed academic work for up to 5 days.
  • Students will be able to access any additional MSAF forms through their Faculty Academic Advising Office if they need to miss additional class time due to illness, isolation or other personal reasons.

Students living in residence 

  • Students living in residence are asked to follow the above guidance and also report your isolation to the Residence Life Team and notify any close contacts. 
  • This website has helpful information about whether your roommates are also required to isolate and how you will be supported during your isolation time. If you have any questions, contact your Community Advisor or Residence Life Area Coordinator. 

Faculty members/course instructors/teaching assistants (TAs)  

  • You may find yourself in a situation where you are directed to isolate after completing a self-assessment through the MacCheck and provincial screening tool.
  • If you are feeling well enough to teach, you may need to temporarily pivot to virtual or remote teaching.  
  • If you are not well enough to teach, you can choose to cancel or defer your class and follow normal absence reporting protocols.  
  • Please communicate promptly and clearly to your students on Avenue to Learn through the various channels so they are aware if the class will be offered virtually, deferred or cancelled. In addition, please keep your department chair informed. 
  • When isolation is required, please see McMaster guidance for workplace arrangements for more information.
  • Department leaders and supervisors have been provided with information about how to support faculty and staff members who require isolation or are unwell. 

All other employees  

  • If you are not well enough to work, you should review the absence provisions in accordance with your collective agreement or employment terms and follow normal absence reporting protocols.  
  • If remote work is available and you are well enough, your leader may enable and support remote work. 
  • If remote work is not possible, or if you are not well enough to work, follow normal absence reporting protocols. When isolation is required, please see McMaster guidance for workplace arrangements for more information.
  • Leaders and supervisors have been provided with information about how to support faculty and staff members who require isolation or are unwell. 

There are also resources available to support employee wellbeing and mental health, including Employee Well-being sessions, Employee and Family Assistance Program and the Mental Health Matters website.

Learn more about McMaster’s layered approach to safety measures on our website.  

The health and wellness of our community remains our focus. We remain committed to providing the flexibility, compassion and support that members of our community may need as they take time to rest, recover and take care of loved ones as we navigate this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We thank you for doing your part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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