Exposure Management

What to do and what to expect when there is a confirmed positive COVID case.

Updated 9/1/21

When there are COVID cases on campus, it is important that students, faculty and staff are aware of how the College manages cases, a process known as “exposure management”, a term used to describe the processes that an organization follows when a positive COVID case is detected. Effective exposure management plans are important to contain spread and prevent single cases from becoming outbreaks. It is equally important that you understand your obligations and the guidance and policies that may impact you if you test positive or think you may have been exposed. If you don’t see your questions answered here or elsewhere on the website, please email oxy@oxy.edu, an email staffed by the Marketing & Communications team in conjunction with the COVID Operations Group.

Note: The guidelines below only apply to vaccinated individuals; there are different recommendations for unvaccinated individuals. If you unvaccinated please contact Emmons for further information.

Topics covered include:

What happens if I test positive for COVID?
What should I do if someone I know (and am close to) tested positive?
How does Oxy handle notifications when someone tests positive?
Other FAQs for faculty, students and staff

What Happens if I Test Positive for COVID?

I am a student who tested positive through Occidental’s testing program:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, you will be placed in isolation for a period of 10 days. Emmons staff will interview you to determine close contacts and determine appropriate next steps regarding notification.
  • Emmons will arrange isolation housing with REHS and will connect you to Campus Dining for meal delivery.
  • Regarding your classes: Emmons will notify the Dean of Students Office in order to request academic flexibility for missed classes (without identifying the nature of the issue given privacy concerns). As has always been the case when a student must miss class due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, they can work with the Dean of Students office and their professors for flexibility and accommodations. Faculty have been advised to plan their courses with contingencies in place (e.g., a remote participation option or alternative assignments) for students who have to miss class due to COVID-related issues.

I am a staff member who tested positive through Occidental’s testing program:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, you will need to isolate away from campus for 10 days. Emmons staff will interview you to determine close contacts and discuss recommended isolation protocols. Emmons will notify HR, which will communicate as needed with the divisional vice-president, so that appropriate individuals are aware of an employee’s isolation plans and time frame. If the nature of the staff member's work can be conducted remotely and the individual is well enough to work, the employee may continue to work remotely while in isolation. If the employee is in a role that requires an in-person presence, sick time (including Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19) must be utilized while in isolation. If you do become ill for any extended period of time (as with other illnesses) and cannot work, you should coordinate with your manager/supervisor and Human Resources to discuss available options. All employees should rely on their medical provider, (not Emmons which is in charge of student wellness) for ongoing medical advice, including medical clearance on when to return to work.

I am a faculty member who tested positive through Occidental’s testing program:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, you will need to isolate away from campus for 10 days. Emmons will work with you to conduct contact tracing and determine appropriate next steps. Emmons staff will notify the Dean of the College that you are not cleared to work on campus. The Dean and the faculty member will discuss options as to how to handle teaching load while a faculty member is in isolation. If you are not experiencing symptoms, you may teach remotely during this period, or make other accommodations, such as scheduling make-up classes upon your return.
  • If you do become ill for any extended period of time (as with other illnesses), you should coordinate with your department chair / associate dean for faculty affairs and with Human Resources to utilize the sick leave provided in the Faculty Handbook and arrange for substitute coverage, alternative assignments, or make-up classes.

I am a staff or faculty member who found out I tested positive from a source other than Occidental’s testing:

  • Employees should notify Emmons immediately if they learn they have tested positive for COVID. You can notify Emmons via phone (323) 259-2657 and email a copy of your positive COVID-19 test to emmons@oxy.edu. In addition, employees must immediately notify their supervisor that they are not cleared to work on campus. The only exception is when an employee has been working exclusively remotely and not conducted Occidental business off-campus in person with other individuals. Emmons staff will interview the employee to conduct contact tracing and determine appropriate next steps, including possible isolation measures. All employees should rely on their medical provider, (not Emmons which is in charge of student wellness) for ongoing medical advice, including clearance to return to work.

I am a student who found out I tested positive from a source other than Occidental’s testing:

  • Students must notify Emmons immediately if they learn they have tested positive for COVID. You can notify Emmons via phone (323) 259-2657 and email a copy of your positive covid-19 test to emmons@oxy.edu. Notification is not required if the positive test occurs more than two weeks before the start of a semester. Emmons staff will interview the student to conduct contact tracing and determine appropriate next steps, including appropriate isolation measures. In some instances, the College may ask the student to get a confirmatory test.

 

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When Others Around Me Test Positive

The question of being “exposed” or “potentially exposed” to a COVID positive individual—and what steps should be taken when that determination is made—can vary based on circumstances. While some general principles apply, the Oxy community should rely on the professional judgement of Emmons medical staff (which utilizes the consultation of Dr. Shriner when necessary, as well as the latest L.A. County and CDC guidelines) to make those determinations. Guidance from local and federal public health officials continues to evolve in this area, another reason why we rely on the added expertise of our medical team.

When contact tracing for a COVID positive case occurs, Emmons staff will identify close contacts to communicate next steps. Although it is not up to individuals to self-identify as close contact, anyone who is concerned about possible exposure is welcome to come to the testing center (currently on the 2nd floor of AGC) for guidance.

Generally, it is helpful to think about three of the more common situations. These do not cover every scenario, but are provided as general guidance to help the community better understand Oxy’s exposure management processes:

  • An “obvious or known exposure” (e.g. a person spending more than 15 minutes, unmasked, indoors with a confirmed COVID positive individual). This is one type of “close contact”. Almost always, these close contacts will be contacted immediately to be tested and Emmons will determine what isolation or quarantine measures are appropriate.
  • Other “close contacts”: These are individuals who have been in close contact with COVID positive individuals. (Examples of when a person would be considered a close contact might include office coworkers, or classmates sitting nearby a COVID positive individual). Emmons medical staff will make the ultimate determination of close contacts through contact tracing, taking into account a number of factors, for example, vaccination status, whether exposure happened indoors or outdoors, and whether masks were being worn all may factor into who is a close contact and when a contact is required to be tested. Emmons will reach out to close contacts to inform them of next steps regarding testing and what activities they can or cannot resume.
  • “Unknown or possible exposure”. This category might include individuals who are not close contacts, but are uncertain about exposure due to a reported or suspected case, for example in your building or res hall. Given our vaccination rate and masking policies, the risk of transmission is low in these instances, however we encourage all community members to be aware of your surrounding environment and use your own discretion. If you are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

Can a student still attend class if they have been identified as a close contact?

  • This guidance will come from Emmons staff through contact tracing and follow up discussion. However, the following process typically applies: Close contacts will be asked to come to Emmons for a “rapid test”. A positive result of a rapid test would require the individual to isolate until their COVID status is confirmed by a PCR test . A negative rapid test does not mean there is no risk of infection. Given the incubation time, a follow up PCR test is required in 3-5 days. If the close contact individual has a negative rapid test and is asymptomatic, they are permitted to continue attending class, of course masked, under a “modified quarantine” while waiting for the follow up PCR test. Students do not need to consult their professors on whether they should attend, and individual faculty members should not preclude students in this category from attending class. In all cases, Emmons professional medical staff will make these determinations.

Can an employee still work if they have been identified as a close contact?

  • This guidance will come from Emmons staff through contact tracing and follow up discussion. However, the following process typically applies: Close contacts will be asked to come to Emmons for a “rapid test”. A positive result of a rapid test would require the individual to isolate until their COVID status is confirmed by a PCR test A negative rapid test does not mean there is no risk of infection. Given the incubation time, a follow up PCR test is required in 3-5 days. If the close contact individual has a negative rapid test and is asymptomatic, they are permitted to continue working on campus while waiting for the follow up PCR test. In all cases, Emmons professional medical staff will make these determinations.

Employees: What should I do if a spouse or child or someone else I live with has been exposed to a COVID positive individual or tests positive for COVID?

  • You are not required to notify the College. Employees are encouraged to first call their medical provider for any health-related questions, as Emmons primary responsibility is student wellness. If you are symptomatic, contact your medical provider first. As always, do not come to work if you are feeling ill. You may come to Emmons for a test (currently at the 2nd floor of AGC) - but first contact Emmons for a consultation. Upon request, an employee may utilize Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to care for a child or family member who is required to isolate or self-quarantine.

 

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FAQs About Notification

A student in my res hall tested positive. Does that mean everyone in the res hall needs to get tested?

  • Not necessarily. Following our exposure management protocols, Emmons staff will interview the COVID-positive student to identify those “close contact” individuals who are required to come in for testing. It may be determined that not everyone from that res hall would be considered close contacts and require testing. Those who are deemed close contacts who require testing will be notified directly via email or phone.
  • If you are not deemed a close contact and are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

A student in my class tested positive. Does that mean everyone in the class, including the professor, needs to get tested?

  • Not necessarily. Following our exposure management protocols, Emmons staff will interview the COVID positive student to determine those “close contact” individuals who are required to come in for testing. Depending on the class size, location, and other factors, it may be determined that some or all participants in the class, including the professor, would be considered close contacts and require testing. Those who are deemed close contacts who require testing will be notified directly via email or phone. Even if not close contacts, all members of the class (and the instructor) will be notified if a COVID+ classmate attended class while in the transmissible phase of COVID infection and may come in for voluntary testing.
  • If you are not deemed a close contact and are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

A coworker tested positive. Does that mean everyone in our office or department must be tested?

  • Not necessarily. Following our exposure management protocols, Emmons staff will interview the COVID-positive individual to identify those “close contact” individuals who are required to come in for testing. It may be determined that not everyone from that office or department would be considered close contacts and require testing. Those who are deemed close contacts who require testing will be notified directly via email or phone.
  • If you are not deemed a close contact and are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

 

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Other FAQs for Faculty, Students and Staff

Faculty: If a student does test positive, what are we expected to do about subsequent class meetings, particularly lab classes?

Dean Sternberg has advised faculty to plan their courses with contingencies in place (e.g., a remote participation option or alternative assignments) for students who have to miss class due to COVID-related issues, similar to what you might do for any student who had to miss class for an extended period of time due to illness.

Faculty: If a student in my class tests positive for COVID, will I be notified?

Yes. While we are not able to reveal protected health information, if a student will be missing class because of COVID-related isolation or quarantine you, you will be notified by the Dean of Students Office that a student in your class will be out due to illness (similar to when students miss class for any extended period of time for illness or other reason). If a student is isolated or in quarantine but is otherwise well enough to perform classwork, faculty are expected to work with students to help them stay on track with the class. Faculty who need assistance recording lectures or setting up a classroom for hybrid participation (whereby students can Zoom into an in-person class—available in some, but not all classrooms), should contact ITS. In the unlikely event that a significant number of students in a given class is isolated or in full quarantine, faculty may choose to hold class remotely, keeping in mind that even isolated students may be sharing a room and will not have access to alternative private spaces to support active class participation.

Students: Will I be notified if a student in my class or in my res hall gets COVID?

You will be notified if Emmons staff has determined that you are a close contact who needs to be tested. In some circumstances, for instance when it cannot be determined with certainty who are close contacts and who are not, the College may provide a more general notification (via email or posted signage) to alert individuals that a person with COVID may have been present in that space, so that anyone with symptoms or concerned about exposure can come in to be tested. If you are not identified as close contact and are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

Faculty & Staff: Will I be notified if a coworker gets COVID?

You will be notified if Emmons staff has determined that you are a close contact who needs to be tested. In some circumstances, for instance when it cannot be determined with certainty who are close contacts and who are not, the College may provide a more general notification (via email or posted signage) to alert individuals that a person with COVID may have been present in that space, so that anyone with symptoms or concerned about exposure can come in to be tested. If you are not identified as close contact and are unsure about a possible exposure, you can always come in for a test (waiting 3-5 days from the day of the exposure, if known - or immediately if you are experiencing symptoms.

Unvaccinated individuals: If I’m unvaccinated, do the same exposure management processes apply?

There are different recommendations for unvaccinated individuals. Those individuals are encouraged to contact Emmons for further information.

 

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