UIC classroom public health guidance for students

Last Updated: September 1, 2022

The UIC COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Epidemiology Program has made several changes to streamline operations and ensure rapid service to the UIC community that can be sustained during periods of high incidence. Data collection and communication methods are now primarily email-based. Please monitor your UIC inbox closely and encourage fellow students to do so as well. Email communications will primarily come from uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu.

Student responsibilities for reporting symptoms, testing and exposures

  1. I’m a student and I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. You should stay home and report your symptoms via the UIC COVID-19 Reporting Decision Tool, no matter how mild. The Tool will direct you to the appropriate place to report your symptoms, our contact tracing team will call you to provide. Once you report your symptoms, you will receive guidance on testing and whether or not you can continue coming to campus.
  2. I’m a student and I tested positive for COVID-19. You should stay home. You should report your positive test via the Reporting Decision Tool if you tested off-campus. If you tested on campus, Contact Tracing will receive the result automatically. You will receive communications from UIC Contact Tracing, 312-355-2555 or uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu. If you were on campus while infectious, Contact Tracing will promptly interview you and will identify and notify any UIC affiliated person who was determined to be exposed. You may anonymously contact persons who you believe you exposed during your infectious period. We ask that you monitor your inbox closely for communications from our team, which will include a link to a survey, and respond as quickly as possible. This survey is designed to collect important public health information and provide instructions on when you are eligible to return to class, work, and other campus activities. As a note, UIC’s current policy is that all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or are likely positive for COVID-19 isolate for a minimum of seven days. If an individual is asymptomatic or if their symptoms have improved* then the individual must adhere to strict masking in ALL SETTINGS ON UIC’S CAMPUS THROUGH DAY 10 OF ILLNESS (calculated from symptom onset, if symptomatic, or date of positive test, if asymptomatic). If the criteria for returning to participation are not met, then the individual will need to remain in home isolation.
  3. I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.  You should report your exposure via the Reporting Decision Tool. After reporting your exposure, you can expect to receive an email communication to their UIC inbox from uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu with instructions to complete a brief survey. UIC’s current policy is that exposed, 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.  The survey you will receive will collect information needed to determine whether you will need to quarantine and for how long. Please be sure to complete the survey as quickly as possible after reporting your exposures so you can receive tailored guidance for quarantine, testing, and symptom monitoring. UIC Contact Tracing will contact you again via email for subsequent surveys after your last exposure for further follow-up. We will be closely monitoring all surveys for indications of symptoms or a positive test, if either are reported, our team will reach out to you via phone to provide further guidance and support as per items 1 and 2 above.

Student concerns and questions for Contact Tracing

  1. I reported a positive COVID-19 test, when should I receive communication from Contact Tracing? If you reported a positive COVID-19 test, you should expect to receive initial communication from CCTEP about your survey submission or positive UIC Campus Saliva Test. In most instances, Contact Tracing will attempt to reach you first by email (uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu). This email will include a link to a survey which will collect public health information and provide you with detailed guidance and return to class/work procedures. If you submitted a survey, it will be sent automatically to the Contact Tracing database; you do not have to submit another survey for the same test.
  2. I need to stay home from class due to symptoms or a positive test. Will my instructor be notified? Contact Tracing does not provide verification that students need to be absent from class. However, if you attended a class during your infectious period, Contact Tracing will notify your instructor that a COVID-positive person attended class while infectious and, in most cases, Contact Tracing will advise the entire class to test during a specific time frame. UIC Contact Tracing will not reveal your identity to the instructor. You are responsible for communicating with the instructor regarding your need to stay home, the date you anticipate returning to class, and make up any assignments that may be necessary. See item 3 below regarding accommodations that will allow you to succeed in your courses during quarantine and isolation.
  3. Will I be penalized for staying home due to symptoms or a positive test? Instructors have received guidance to accommodate students who need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns. However, it is the student’s responsibility to communicate accommodation needs to the instructor in order to avoid attendance or assignment penalties. Contact Tracing does not provide verification that students need to be absent from class.Contact Tracing does not provide verification that students need to be absent from class.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Overall, our data shows that classrooms remain very safe thanks to our excellent vaccination rates on campus, excellent mask compliance among faculty and students, ventilation upgrades in our classrooms, and intense monitoring by the contact tracing program.
  6. Will we be using Acadly in the classroom? Yes. Contact Tracing intends to fully utilize Acadly by the fall 2022 semester. Students should utilize this time to become familiar and comfortable with using the software. General information on Acadly can be found online. here. For assistance in creating an account on Android and iOS devices, in addition to FAQs, learn more about Acadly for students.

Compliance and other concerns

  1. What happens if I don’t 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. Students who do not comply with UIC COVID-19 policies may be reported to the Dean of Students and may be subject to disciplinary action. Please see Provost’s guidance under the section ‘What happens if students do not follow these guidelines?’ for more information.
  2. I have concerns about classroom safety, for example, poor ventilation or non-adherence to masking requirements. Please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office or report an anonymous safety concern online.
  3. Someone in my class tested positive, will classes move online?  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.

Important resources: