UIC workplace public health guidance for supervisors

Last Updated: January 20, 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 supervisors can manage student questions about COVID-19 reporting

  1. An employee reports they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Instruct the employee to stay home and report their symptoms via the UIC COVID-19 Reporting Decision Tool, no matter how mild. The Tool will direct the employee 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. An employee reports they tested positive for COVID-19. Instruct the employee to stay home. They should report their positive test via the Reporting Decision Tool if they tested off-campus; otherwise Contact Tracing will receive the result automatically. No further action is required on the supervisor’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. Given the current surge in cases at UIC, our outreach by phone is delayed; however, we will work rapidly to provide the employee with guidance. However, supervisors can also suggest that the employee considers contacting persons who they believe they exposed during their infectious period, which can be done anonymously here.
  3. An employee reports they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Instruct the employee to report their exposure via the Reporting Decision 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.

Supervisor questions for Contact Tracing

  1. I’m not sure when to expect communication from Contact Tracing about employees. If the employee reported a positive COVID-19 test, supervisors can normally expect to receive outreach and guidance from UIC Contact Tracing within 48 hours of the employee reporting their test as long as the employee attended work while infectious. This outreach will often first come through email (from uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu or cctepsupervisors@uic.edu). Given the current surge in cases at UIC, our outreach may be slower than usual; however, once an employee is identified as having attended work while infectious, we will act rapidly to provide guidance to you and those you supervise. If the employee reported having symptoms of COVID-19 or having had an exposure to someone with COVID-19, supervisors will not hear from UIC Contact Tracing unless the employee 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 an employee attended work while infectious. Contact tracing will work to determine if a positive employee exposed any other employees and individually email those exposed. In most cases, Contact Tracing will send an email to the supervisor to disseminate to all employees to notify them than an employee in their workplace tested positive for COVID-19 or is likely infected with COVID-19 based on current public health guidelines and provide testing guidance, if applicable. In rare situations (e.g., in the event of a masking breach), a UIC Contact Tracing supervisor will reach out to supervisors by phone asking them to provide information about the workplace’s general structure (e.g., activities, organization) and any potential interactions between the case and other employees. In those instances, supervisors 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 at work. 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. What can I do to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace? Based on our analyses from epidemiologically linked cases, we have learned that transmission often is attributed to less formal times, such as meal and coffee breaks and social events. It is important to reinforce masking or social distancing during times when persons cannot mask (e.g., eating). It is also important to reinforce strict masking in the workplace and to encourage any employee with COVID-19 like symptoms to stay home and report to Contact Tracing, no matter how mild the symptoms may be.

Compliance and other concerns

  1. An employee refused to comply with UIC COVID-19 policies, for example, by showing up to work after being told to quarantine/isolate or refusing to report a positive test result. You should communicate directly with your Human Resources department for further guidance.
  2. I have concerns about my workspace. Reach out to the Environmental Health and Safety Office directly here, or anonymously here

Important resources: