Contact tracing helps keep you, your friends and family and our communities as safe as possible by slowing the spread of COVID-19, by alerting those who may have been exposed to the disease virus and helping them determine next steps. If Penn State contact tracers reach out to you, it’s important to engage with them and provide information about where you have been and with whom you have been in contact. Your protected health information will be kept confidential.
Visit the Student Affairs website for more information on student contact tracing and reporting positive third-party test results.
Penn State contact tracing overview
The University’s contact tracing process focuses on identifying, notifying and monitoring students who came in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is presumed positive, while they were infectious.
Contact tracing is directed by the Community Health and operated centrally by University Health Services, with support and representation from the Commonwealth Campuses.
Definition of a ‘close contact’
In line with CDC guidelines on close contacts, the University defines a close contact as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative time of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period while that individual may have been infectious. The infectious period begins 48 hours before the person began experiencing symptoms (or 48 hours before the test date for asymptomatic individuals) until the time the individual was isolated.
What to expect from the contact tracing process
The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students can expect:
- Step 1: Contact tracers will reach out to students who have tested positive and those identified as close contacts via email with guidance regarding masking and testing after exposure. Per current CDC and Penn State guidelines, quarantine is no longer required regardless of vaccination status.
- Step 2: Case managers (Student Support Services) will reach out to students in isolation to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not able to attend class.
Self-reporting a suspected close contact
To limit community spread and transmission of COVID-19, any student who suspects or has confirmed that they are a close contact of an infected individual must wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days following exposure and is strongly encouraged to test on day five. They can also self-report by filling out Penn State's contact tracing referral form or by emailing Penn State Contact Tracing.
Penn State Contact Tracing will review the information and contact the student.
If a student submits the form and is determined to have met the standard for close contact, the student will be provided with guidance and instruction regarding masking and testing.
When and how to report positive test results
If you receive a positive result from a test administered by University Health Services, no further action is necessary and contact tracing will commence automatically.
If you receive a positive test result from a test administered by a provider outside of the University or from an at-home test kit, their are steps you need to take.
Reporting results for students
Students should notify the University of a positive test result by emailing their results along with their Penn State ID number to email@example.com.
Reporting results for employees
Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 should call Occupational Medicine at 814-865-8612.
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