UIC classroom public health guidance for faculty

Last Updated: March 4, 2022

Effective January 24, we made several changes to our classroom contact tracing procedures as a result of the surge in cases at UIC and the surrounding community and the highly transmissible Omicron variant. These changes were implemented to ensure we can continue to deliver public health guidance to all individuals who test positive for COVID-19, are exposed to a COVID-positive individual, or report university sponsored travel in a timely manner.

How faculty can manage student questions about COVID-19 reporting

  1. 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.
  2. A student reports they tested positive for COVID-19. Instruct the student to stay home. They should report their positive test via the 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 cctepsupervisors@uic.edu). Contact Tracing will promptly interview the case and reach out to any exposed UIC affiliates. Instructors can also suggest that the student consider contacting persons who they believe they exposed during their infectious period, which can be done anonymously here.
  3. A student reports they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Instruct the student to report their exposure via the Tool. UIC’s current policy is that fully vaccinated and boosted persons and fully vaccinated persons not yet eligible for the booster vaccine, who were not exposed in their household or another high-risk scenario, 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 or are fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster vaccine but have not yet received their booster, and all persons who were exposed in their household or another high-risk scenario, regardless of vaccination status, will be instructed to stay home and begin quarantine. UIC Contact Tracing will follow up with them as quickly as possible after they report their exposure and provide further guidance.

Faculty questions for Contact Tracing

  1. I’m not sure when to expect communication from Contact Tracing about students. If the student reported a positive COVID-19 test instructors can normally 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 uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu or cctepsupervisors@uic.edu. Once a student is identified as having attended work while infectious, we will act rapidly to provide guidance to you and your class. 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.  
  2. UIC Contact Tracing reached out because a student attended class while infectious. Contact tracing will work to determine if a positive student exposed any other class members and individually emails those exposed. In most cases, Contact Tracing will email the instructor and all class participants to notify them that a student in their class tested positive for COVID-19 or is likely infected with COVID-19 based on current public health guidelines and also provide testing guidance. In rare situations (e.g., in the event of a masking breach), a UIC Contact Tracing supervisor will email the instructor for information about the class’s general structure (e.g., activities, organization) and seating records. In those instances, instructors and students will receive an email summarizing our investigation and indicating what actions are needed, if any.
  3. 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.
  4. I’d like to know more about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in UIC classrooms. During Fall 2021 semester Contact Tracing assessed classroom safety on a weekly basis and disseminated findings to campus leadership. Among the 241 classroom-based case investigations Contact Tracing completed during Fall 2021, they observed one possible transmission event involving an unvaccinated person exposed during a classroom meeting.  
  5. Will we be using Acadly in the classroom? Yes. Contact Tracing intends to fully utilize Acadly by the Fall 2022 semester. Instructors should utilize this time to become familiar and comfortable with using the software and integrating its use into classroom processes. General information on Acadly can be found here. Training materials and tutorial videos can be found here.

Compliance and other concerns

  1. A student refused to comply with UIC COVID-19 policies, for example, by showing up in class after being told to quarantine/isolate 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.
  2. I have concerns about my classroom or workspace. Reach out to the Environmental Health and Safety Office directly here, or anonymously here.  
  3. If someone in my class tests positive, I’ll just move to online instruction to be on the safe side.  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. However, at this time there has not been a need to move any classrooms to remote learning due to transmission among class members.
  4. Does my student need to provide a note from contact tracing verifying their need to stay home and quarantine/isolate? Contact Tracing does not provide verification that students need to be absent from class.

Important resources: