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Guidance for those testing

Nov. 17, 2020

Campus community,

If you have chosen to be tested for COVID-19 on Nov. 20, it's important to think about your social interactions and personal behaviors before and after Friday's test.

Your decisions between Wednesday and your departure from campus next week do not only impact you. Your close contacts could require quarantining, which could negatively impact Thanksgiving plans and family interactions. It is critically important to be incredibly responsible related to COVID over the next eight days.

Things to consider:

1. Testing should be part of a layered approach. COVID testing is a snapshot in time. A negative test result only indicates you were negative at the time of the test. It does not mean you have not contracted the virus between the test date and the results.

2. Eliminate close contacts. In contact tracing, contacts are traced two days prior to the positive person being tested.

To reduce the likelihood of exposure to your friends and all others you spend time with, you should eliminate all close contact from others as of Wednesday, no later than 11 a.m. since testing will begin Friday at 11 a.m.

Please be reminded that close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of another person for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. This elimination of close contact creates a second layer of mitigation for you, and also makes it less likely that others on campus will have to be quarantined over the holidays.

3. Use grab-and-go dining only. You should use grab-and-go between Wednesday and your departure from campus for Thanksgiving. If you choose to dine in, consider doing so alone. While in line for meals, be mindful of your physical distancing from others.

4. No social activity. You should not participate in any social activities, particularly those parties or other events that aren't sponsored by the college where compliance with masking and physical distancing is not always followed.

This upcoming weekend, our last together as a community, may result in increased socializing. Interacting in a party environment over the weekend has two negative impacts: It can make your test result meaningless because you may contract the virus over the weekend, and, if you do test positive, your socializing over the weekend will have exposed many others.

5. Attend classes. Classroom layouts, physical distancing and masking measures have  proven effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms this fall. To date, zero cases of positive transmission from classroom contact have been identified through contact tracing. While COVID-19 transmission is possible anywhere, the college's ongoing surveillance of COVID-19 on campus indicates the classroom is as controlled and COVID-responsible as any environment on campus.

6. Foundational COVID response efforts remain important. Continue wearing masks at all times in public spaces. Even consider wearing masks in your residence hall room when your roommate is home. Again, eliminate all close contacts. Physical distancing is important. And practice proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.

As Provost Hilton-Morrow shared last week, "Most of you will be transitioning home to complete finals from a distance. We want that for you and your loved ones, who likely miss you terribly. But, mostly, we urge you to make decisions now that will keep your mom and dad, aunties and uncles, abuelas and abuelos — or whomever you call family — safe."

For those of you who have decided to take a COVID-19 test on Friday, adhering to the measures outlined above, formed by public health guidance, are ways to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

However, the country and the world is co-existing with COVID-19, not avoiding it. That rings true at Augustana as well. It is reasonable to assume some people will receive positive test results early next week.

Below is what you can expect from a positive test result.

1. You will be informed of your positive test results directly by Genesis Health. The college also will be informed of your positive test result.

2. That information triggers Augustana's contact tracing to start. Students and employees who test positive should expect a phone call from an Augustana employee volunteering as a contact tracer to learn more about who the positive person has had close contact with.

During that phone call:

• The positive person will be informed of their need to isolate for 10 days from the time of the positive test or time of symptoms. For students, isolation housing is available over Thanksgiving break and students do not need to go home to isolate. We would prefer COVID-positive students isolate on campus.

• Student isolation housing will be coordinated.

• The conversation will include tracing close contacts since Wednesday.

3. Augustana contact tracers then will make contact with all identified close contacts of the person with the positive test. The contact tracers will discuss quarantine housing options available on campus over Thanksgiving break and will converse to learn more about their plans.

4. For students requiring isolation or quarantine housing:

• If movement of students is necessary, students will be transported to isolation or quarantine housing by Public Safety staff.

• Meals will be delivered to the student's isolation or quarantine location. Three meals per day, including snacks, are included in the delivery.

• Augustana employees, known as COVID case managers, will call periodically to check-in with students in isolation or quarantine.

• Students will be made aware of their departure date from isolation or quarantine and can leave campus at that time.

Best of luck with your testing on Friday and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Wes Brooks
Dean of Students