UIC classroom public health guidance for faculty
How faculty can manage student questions about COVID-19 reporting
- A student reports they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Instruct the student to stay home and report their symptoms via the UIC COVID-19 Reporting Decision Tool, no matter how mild. The Tool will direct the student to the appropriate place to report their symptoms. Once they report their symptoms, they will receive guidance on testing and whether or not they can continue coming to campus.
- A student reports they tested positive for COVID-19. Instruct the student to stay home. They should report their positive test via the Reporting Tool if they tested off-campus; otherwise Contact Tracing will receive the result automatically. No further action is required on the instructor’s part unless they receive communications from UIC Contact Tracing (312-355-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Contact Tracing will promptly interview the case and reach out to any exposed UIC affiliates. However, instructors can also suggest that the student consider contacting persons who they believe they exposed during their infectious period.
- A student reports they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Instruct the student to report via their exposure via the Reporting Tool. UIC’s current isolation and quarantine policy is that exposed, fully vaccinated persons are required to test 5-9 days after the exposure and can continue participating in class and all other campus activities as long as they remain symptom-free. Persons who are not fully vaccinated will be instructed to stay home and begin quarantine. UIC Contact Tracing will follow-up with them rapidly after they report their exposure and provide further guidance.
Faculty questions for Contact Tracing
- I’m not sure when to expect communication from Contact Tracing about students. If the student reported a positive COVID-19 test instructors can expect to hear from UIC Contact Tracing within 48 hours of the student reporting their test as long as the student attended class while infectious. The email will come from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If an instructor confirms the student reported their test but they have not heard from Contact Tracing after 48 hours, they can reach out to a supervisor at email@example.com. If the student reported having symptoms of COVID-19 or having had an exposure to someone with COVID-19, instructors will not hear from UIC Contact Tracing unless the student tests positive for COVID-19 or is likely infected with COVID-19 based on current public health guidelines.
- UIC Contact Tracing reached out because a student attended class while infectious. In the majority of situations,a UIC Contact Tracing supervisor will reach out to instructors by email asking them to provide information about the class’s general structure (e.g. activities, organization) and seating information to determine if a positive student was within 6 feet of any other students for at least 15 minutes. Based on the information provided by instructors and students, Contact Tracing will determine if anyone was exposed to the positive student during class and contact them directly. Instructors will receive an email to disseminate to the class summarizing our investigation and indicating what actions are needed, if any.
- I’m not sure how Contact Tracing determined whether someone had an exposure in class. Contact Tracing collects detailed epidemiologic information about any potential close contact with a COVID-positive individual. This includes but is not limited to: distance, duration of contact, activities, ventilation, location, and masking. Contact Tracing then follows the most up-to-date guidance to determine whether the encounter constituted close contact, which is generally defined as >15 min of contact within < 6-ft distance.
- I’d like to know more about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in UIC classrooms. Based on our analysis of 90 student cases who attended 192 classes while infectious during the first four weeks of the fall 2021 semester, Contact Tracing observed one possible transmission event. This involved one classroom meeting, and the exposed person was unvaccinated.
Compliance and other concerns
- A student refused to comply with UIC COVID-19 policies, for example, by showing up in class after being told to quarantine or refusing to report a positive test result. Follow the Provost’s guidance under the section ‘What happens if students do not follow these guidelines?’ Reported incidents are handled by the Dean of Students.
- I have concerns about my classroom or work space. Reach out to the Environmental Health and Safety Office directly by email, or anonymously.
- If someone in my class tests positive, I’ll just move to online instruction to be on the safe side. In general, with vaccination requirements and masking protocols, having a COVID-positive individual in class does not indicate that an instructor needs to change the mode of instruction, as Contact Tracing will reach out to those determined to be exposed and monitor them. Contact Tracing, in conjunction with Dr. Susan Bleasdale and other infectious disease experts, will evaluate situations where it appears there may have been a larger-scale, high-risk exposure in the classroom to determine whether or not it is advisable for the class to change its mode of instruction. In those situations, it may be recommended that a class move to remote learning for a short time while the entire class undergoes testing and symptom monitoring.