Students not required to reveal their COVID-19 results

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Students at the University of Northern Colorado are responsible for making the choice to self-report if they have tested positive for COVID-19. But students are not required to tell the school if they do not live on campus or do not use the school clinic to get tested. Photo courtesy of @UNC_Colorado Twitter page.

Students at the University of Northern Colorado are responsible for making the choice to self-report if they have tested positive for COVID-19. But students are not required to tell the school if they do not live on campus or do not use the school clinic to get tested. 

“The UNC contact-tracing team is immediately notified of anyone who tests positive at the Student Health Center,” said Cindy Vetter, the director of Student Business Services. “If students or employees are tested off-campus, UNC only finds out if the individual alerts UNC, or if they disclose to the investigator at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE), or other county health departments, that they’re a UNC student or employee. ”

This is because of HIPPA, better known as doctor-patient confidentiality. A student’s health information and results can only be told after permission is granted. 

This concerns many students. 

“If students test positive, will professors and classmates be notified that there was potential exposure to COVID?” a concerned student asked. 

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“If the classroom set-up has remained with the six-feet social distancing, the mask policy has been adhered to and classroom disinfecting is occurring on schedule, then, generally, classmates would not be notified unless the health department has determined other direct contacts have occurred,” Vetter said in an email. 

Students are expected and encouraged to self-report a positive COVID result. This can be done confidentially at https://www.unco.edu/coronavirus/health-alerts/.

Because of the limited seating capacity within each in-person classroom, as well as the cleaning processes for each classroom, students would not be notified if a classmate has tested positive. This same idea was expressed during the weekly operational update call on Sept. 10 by the associate vice-president for administration, Blaine Nickeson. 

“One of the points I was making in that meeting was, that holding classes is one of the lower risk activities that we actually do on a college campus,” Nickeson said. 

“One of the key factors that is questioned is, ‘Has the infected person been in continuous 15-minute contact with someone closer than six feet without a mask?” Vetter said in an email.

With ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, there have been few reported cases since the beginning of the school year. As of Sept. 10, there are four new positive cases of COVID which brings the total number of reported COVID cases to 20. 

However, students are still expressing concern about the methods of contact tracing and notification happening.

“If students have the option not to disclose to the university, then how are we sure that classmates and professors aren’t being affected?” an anonymous student asked.

For more information visit: unco.edu/return-to-campus/symptoms-testing/.

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