Important COVID-19 Information

From: VP Julie DeGraw
To: Students, Faculty, and Staff
Posted: August 20, 2020 at 9:50 a.m.

Dear Students, 

Many of you are doing a fantastic job of wearing your masks, washing your hands and distancing…even off campus!  Thanks so much and please keep up the great work.  

I am reaching out today because I am hearing from students and from your Student Senate that it would be helpful to have some clarification about some of our COVID-19 processes.  I know you are hearing information from many different sources that can be confusing so we will seek to address as many of your questions as possible.

Can we know the number of COVID-19 positive cases on campus?  

The Incident Command Team is tracking the number of active confirmed cases and this number will be shared on a regular basis.  More information will be coming soon about this. 

How will we decide if we need to revert to all online classes and/or send students home?

Incident Command is tracking numerous metrics to monitor the health and safety of the campus community which will be used by the administration to enable it to make informed and timely decisions.   It is imperative that you continue to follow the guidance provided ON AND OFF CAMPUS, or you may affect our ability to remain together in person.  

What happens if we receive a report of a community member (faculty, staff or student) who tests positive for COVID-19? 
  • Valpo’s protocol for positive COVID-19 test results is to have the individual isolate until their infectious period has concluded (as determined by the Porter County Health Dept, minimum of 10-days).
  • Moved into ISOLATION which means the student will be separated from others who are not sick. 
  • We have various locations where students will be moved into single rooms with their own bathrooms.  
  • We are currently NOT using Scheele Hall in any way. 
  • A contact tracer will contact the student to determine who has had direct contact with them (See definition of Direct Contact and Contact Tracing below).
What happens if someone is experiencing symptoms?
  • They will be contacted by the Health Center if they report those symptoms through the app or self-report.  Students can also call the health center directly if they are sick.  
  • They also will likely be directed to isolate (depending on symptoms)
  • They may be directed to take a COVID-19 test through our Health Center.
  • A contact tracer will contact the student to determine who has had direct contact with them (See definition of Direct Contact Below).
  • They will be required to remain in isolation for the full 14 days even with a negative test because people can become positive any time within 14 days. 
What happens if someone is put in quarantine?
  • Quarantine is a preventative and precautionary measure and does not mean that the individual being quarantined has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Individuals who have been determined to be in DIRECT CONTACT (see definition below) with individuals who have tested positive and/or have symptoms will be separated from others. 
  • Those who are not symptomatic or have tested positive might remain in quarantine together as long as they are isolated from others.  
  • They will be required to remain in quarantine for the full 14 days even with a negative test because people can become positive any time within 14 days.  
For those in quarantine or isolation:  
  • A notification will be sent to the faculty members of the student indicating they are under medical care and will be out of class.  
  • Student will contact the faculty member and discuss how to make up work remotely.  
  • Students will be asked to bring 14 day’s worth of supplies with them (clothes, toiletries, study materials etc.)
  • Food is provided.  Residence life and health staff check in with students.  Spiritual Life staff and Counseling staff are also available remotely to students in isolation.  
How do we determine who has had direct contact with someone who is positive or symptomatic? 

The individual who tested positive will be interviewed by a contact tracer to determine where they had been and with whom they had DIRECT CONTACT.  

DIRECT CONTACT – explained by the CDC as less than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more with or without face coverings worn by either or both individuals) with the COVID-19 positive individual(s) within two days of symptom onset or receiving a positive test result.

What is CONTACT TRACING?

Contact tracing is an interview with an individual who has test positive for COVID19 or had direct contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 to determine and share the following: 

  • Let the individual know they may have been exposed to or have tested positive for COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Help people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested and connected with available support resources. 
  • Identify where the contact has been and with whom they had interactions within the campus community 48-hours prior to their symptom(s) developing or the positive test (if they are asymptomatic). 
  • Provide guidelines and instructions for individuals to isolate if they have COVID-19 or quarantine if they are a direct contact. Note: Length of quarantine/isolation is determined by the contact tracing team and/or Porter County Health Department. The presence of a negative test does not negate the length of quarantine.
Where are COVID-19 tests available? 

Students who are symptomatic as well as athletes mandated by the NCAA can receive testing through our student health center.  We must reserve the resources of the center currently for students who fall in these categories.  Other students can get free testing off campus by appointment) through the County site:  https://www.porterco.org/1614/COVID-19-Testing-Information or at HealthLinc locations: https://healthlincchc.org/covid-19-healthlinc-updates/ 

How will faculty handle absences if I miss class because of isolation or quarantine?

Faculty should consider a quarantine or isolation as an excused absence from class.  That is, students in quarantine should have a full, robust opportunity to complete their course work while in quarantine with no penalty.   If a student is quarantined, but not ill, arrangements are made so that they can continue to work remotely to be on pace with the course when they return.  If a student is quarantined and is in fact ill, then whether they can continue to work remotely or must do catch up work depends on how ill they are. 

I hope these responses answers many of your questions, but please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help support you while on campus.