UNT has instituted the following protocols to identify people within the UNT community who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. All protocols are in accordance with guidelines provided by the CDC and local health authorities.
UNT has identified staff who act as both case investigators and contact tracers. Reports come to the University either directly (by phone or email), or through the COVID hotline. When calls are received, they are tracked, and appropriate action is taken by staff based on the information provided. After gathering the information, the staff member makes an initial assessment of the situation, determines the potential for risk to the campus, and works closely with the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) to make a recommendation to the Health Crisis Team (HCT). Members of the HCT are notified of the case and briefed on the findings. After listening to all the information and subsequent discussion, the group determines the overall risk to the campus community and makes a final decision as far as guidance and instructions to the individual.
Our goal is to mitigate on-campus risk to our community members through data collection, UNT-focused contact tracing, and self-isolation or self-monitoring directives. Working closely with the leadership of the SHWC, Risk Management (RMS), and Human Resources (HR), and following CDC guidelines, we have developed the following protocols to respond to people who are symptomatic, diagnosed with COVID-19, or possibly exposed.
The Contact Tracing Team will either receive a self-report of symptoms or be contacted by someone reporting another person with symptoms and/or a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection. No matter how the report is received, the case will be triaged to the appropriate case investigator. The following information will be obtained from each caller:
- Whether or not the individual is a student, faculty, or staff member.
- Whether or not they live on-campus.
- A description of their symptoms.
- What date they were last on campus and their exact locations - REQUIRED.
- Ask if they were wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.
- If they believe they have had direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
- If they had any close contact with another person(s) while last on campus. If so, determine level of contact and assess risk based on CDC guidelines.
If a student, the individual will be referred to the Student Health and Wellness Center. If the individual is a faculty or staff member, they will be directed to contact their primary care physician, either in person or through telehealth, or an urgent care center.
All individuals reporting symptoms will be directed to self-isolate before returning to campus. The self-isolation period ends, and the person can return to campus, if it has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, respiratory symptoms have improved, and they are fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as Tylenol) for at least 24 hours. They may also return if they have been evaluated by a medical professional and it is determined any symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
The team will send a self-isolate email (template available) to the individual following the call. If a student, the Student Health and Wellness Center will be copied on the email. If an employee, Human Resources will be copied on the email.
If the individual was on-campus in the last 14 days, forward the self-isolation email to the Director of Public Health explaining what areas need to be sanitized (out of an abundance of caution).
Note: In cases when a student is reported to us to be symptomatic or have a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 and we cannot reach this student by phone immediately, we must urgently reach out to Housing to verify whether or not they live on campus.
If an individual has reported that they are being tested and/or awaiting results for COVID-19, they will be directed to self-isolate (symptomatic patients) or self-quarantine (asymptomatic patients) for the appropriate period of time determined above OR until test results come back negative.
If the live-in contact of an asymptomatic individual is being tested for COVID-19, the individual must self-quarantine until those test results are returned. If the live-in contact’s test results come back positive, the asymptomatic individual must continue to self-quarantine for an additional specified time period, typically 14 days from last exposure. If the contact’s results are negative, the asymptomatic individual may end the self-quarantine period and can return to campus. The individuals are encouraged to report all results to the team.
Upon receiving a report of an individual or a live-in contact being tested, the team will send the appropriate email with guidance, instructions, and resources available, copying additional departments as needed.
Once a positive case has been assigned to one of the team members, they will contact the individual by phone immediately. If the individual does not answer the phone after two attempts, the team member will email them asking for them to contact the case investigator. When contact is made, the person is informed that they are being contacted by a UNT case investigator and that the conversation is confidential. Many times the person is expecting the call, especially if tested at the SHWC, as they have already been notified of the test results and are awaiting further information.
Using the developed script and UNT Case Investigation form, the following information will be collected:
- Email address
- Phone Number
- UNT ID#
- Whether or not the individual is a student, faculty, or staff member
- Whether or not they live on-campus (if yes, where and when they were last there) and who are their live-in contacts (other UNT students?)
- A description of their symptoms
- What date they were last on campus
- If they were symptomatic during their last time on campus.
- If they were wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.
- If they believe they have had direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 (If yes, gather information on that person. If they are a member of the UNT community, note their information and treat as a new potential case.
- If they had any close contact with another person while last on campus. If so, determine level of contact and assess risk based on CDC guidelines. Contact tracing is the next part of the process and discussed separately.
While speaking with the individual, the team member will request that the person provide documentation of their diagnosis, if possible. Individuals will receive an email with specific instructions on self-isolation as well as support and resources available on and off campus. Specific criteria as to when the isolation period ends is reviewed over the phone but also included in an email with an end date clearly listed. The Student Health and Wellness Center and/or Human Resources are copied in this email as appropriate. Students will need to notify their instructors they will not be in class. Employees should inform their immediate supervisors they will not be at work.
If the individual was on-campus in the last 14 days, forward the self-isolation email to the Director of Public Health explaining what areas need to be sanitized.
Follow up interviews to check in and confirm all symptoms have resolved prior to ending the isolation/quarantine period will be conducted.