January 12, 2021 - COVID-19 Update: What happens after a self-report is made?
Dear Faculty and Staff:
As we ready for the start of the spring semester, many of you have asked for an enhanced understanding of the information our COVID-19 Response Team shares after receiving a self-reported instance of COVID-19 symptoms, exposure to someone positive with COVID-19, or a positive COVID-19 test. It is important for us all to understand this process, as well as the overall importance of self-reporting so we can maintain a real-time perspective of the pandemic's impact on our campus.
The following summarizes the detailed self-report response as outlined on our PROTECT CSU: COVID-19 Response Team webpage, which includes a PDF thoroughly outlining the team's response to self-reported information.
If a self-report comes from students...
- Instructors are notified that students must be away from the physical classroom for a certain time, with a return date on the notice.
- Instructors should be flexible with course requirements and student accommodations during this time. This includes absences from livestreams and modified assignment due dates and lab requirements, when possible.
- Instructors will not be given students' specific reasons (e.g., illness, exposure, symptoms) for their physical absence from class.
- Students in class with a classmate testing positive for COVID-19 will be notified if they are defined as a "close contact." There will be no general notice sent to affected students' class(es).
If the self-report comes from employees...
- Supervisors are only notified that employees must be away from their physical campus work location for a certain time, with a return date on the notice.
- Supervisors should work closely with affected employees during this time by allowing them to work remotely, if possible. If this is not possible, Human Resources will discuss options with affected employees.
- Supervisors will not be given employees' specific reasons (e.g., illness, exposure, symptoms) for the time away from being physically present on campus.
- Coworkers and other campus community members will be notified if they are defined as a "close contact." There will be no general notice sent to affected employees' unit(s).
Maintaining six-foot physical distancing and wearing face coverings significantly decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19 - even in classroom and office settings where people may exceed 15 minutes of exposure time. This is where the COVID-19 Response Team's contact notification efforts and interviews with those who self-report are vital. The self-reporting procedure, and your ongoing cooperation with that process, is central to this effort.
Balancing transparency and the confidentiality of health and personal data expected by both students and employees means that our COVID-19 Response Team treats each self-report - and the information collected as part of it - cautiously. Team members will share relevant information with instructors and supervisors to the extent confidentiality allows and in alignment with current public health best practices and legal requirements. That said, students or employees may choose to disclose more information beyond what is provided by the COVID-19 Response Team. If supervisors or in-person course instructors believe more information is required, they should contact Julio Llanos to discuss those concerns.
Obtaining the vaccine...
Last week, we informed you that the Georgia Department of Public Health has rolled out a phased vaccination schedule - of which educational employees are in the initial tier. Registering in advance for the vaccine is essential, so visit the vaccine information website to view that information and complete the form for Phase 1B so you are notified when that phase begins.
As of Monday, we had 35 active, positive cases of COVID-19 among our students and employees, with another 76 individuals who had self-reported exposures or symptoms in case management. It's important to recognize that this uptick in our case management is the result of off-campus behaviors and exposures during our holiday break. It also emphasizes that we all must return to campus vigilant and determined to follow public health best-practices, which include avoiding gatherings that place us at a greater exposure risk.
Everyone has a part to play in encouraging each nother to #MakeWiseChoices, to report when necessary, and to respect each others' need for privacy. Thanks for all you've done in the past and will do this semester to show that #CougarsCareEverywhere.
Julio Llanos, ATC and Shana Young
Co-Chairs, COVID-19 Response Team
P.S. Additional university resources remain available online at www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response.