UIC workplace public health guidance for supervisors

Last Updated: September 1, 2022

The UIC COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Epidemiology Program has made several changes to streamline its operations and ensure rapid sustained service to the UIC community, particularly during times when there are large numbers of cases.  Operations have shifted to being increasingly email driven, rather than telephone based. Please monitor your UIC inbox closely and encourage fellow colleagues to do so as well. Email communications will primarily come from uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu.

How supervisors can address employee questions about reporting COVID-19 symptoms, exposures and positive COVID-19 tests to Contact Tracing.

  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 from our Contact Tracing on testing and whether 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 and initiate the contact tracing process. Employees should monitor their email for initial communications from our team inbox (uic_contact_tracing@uic.edu). Please encourage the employee to complete the survey sent via email as quickly as possible so they can receive tailored guidance, isolation support, and so we can quickly identify any UIC affiliate who was potentially exposed. UIC Contact Tracing will contact the employee again via email for subsequent surveys to provide additional follow up. 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. Supervisors can also suggest that the employee consider contacting persons who they believe they exposed during their infectious period, which can be done anonymously online. 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. An employee reports they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Instruct the employee to report their exposure via the Reporting Decision Tool. After reporting their exposure, the employee 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 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 sent to the employee will collect information needed to determine whether they will need to quarantine and for how long. Please encourage the employee to complete the survey as quickly as possible after reporting their exposure so they can receive tailored guidance for quarantine, testing, and symptom monitoring. UIC Contact Tracing will contact them again via email for subsequent surveys after their 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 the employee via phone to provide further guidance and support.

How supervisors can address concerns and questions about campus Contact Tracing and COVID-19 risk reductions in the workplace.

  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). 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. If an individual was determined to be exposed, they will be individually notified by email to their UIC inbox and will receive instructions for completing our intake survey. In most cases, Contact Tracing will send an email to the supervisor to disseminate to all employees to notify them that 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.

How to address employee noncompliance with prevention recommendations, reporting requirements, and how to develop plans to make your worksite safer regarding COVID-19.

  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. Please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office or complete an anonymous online report.

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