What does the University’s contact tracing plan entail?

To support the health and well-being of the University community, Penn State has implemented a contact tracing process in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as part of a layered tracing and testing approach for students and employees across all campuses. To limit community spread and transmission, the University’s contact tracing process focuses on identifying, notifying and monitoring students and employees who came in close contact with a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is presumed positive, while they were infectious.

In line with CDC guidelines, the University is now defining 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.

The Penn State contact tracing program scales up existing contact tracing protocols and support services in place at the University. Tracing is directed by the COVID-19 Operations Control Center and operated centrally by the Office of Student Affairs, with support and representation from the Commonwealth Campuses. The University and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are working in tandem to support state requirements for case investigation, which is the process of contacting those who test positive for COVID-19, or are presumed positive, and then reaching out to their close contacts.

The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students and employees can expect:

— Step 1: Penn State will identify individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or presumed positive.

— Step 2: Nursing staff will initiate contact with positive or presumed positive students and employees.

— Step 3: Contact tracers will communicate with employees and students identified as close contacts about health quarantine expectations and offer support.

— Step 4: Case managers will reach out daily, or on an as-needed basis, to students in isolation and/or quarantine to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not permitted to attend class.