Update, Answers to Frequent Questions from Fall 2020 Planning Committee

Posted on 9/3/2020 12:03:04 PM

Colleagues,

Thank you for all of your continued hard work and patience as we begin the fall semester. Continuing to teach and to work with students is complicated and challenging even in the best of times, and face coverings, social distancing, plexiglass dividers and Zoom all day long aren’t anyone’s definition of the best of times.

The key takeaway is this: If you do what you are supposed to do—follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PaDoH) guidelines to wear a face covering, stay socially  distant, and stay home if you are ill—you are doing the right thing! The best protection for you, your students, your co-workers, and your families is to follow those guidelines.

As promised when we first started planning for the fall semester, we will continue to provide information and answers to your questions. As we have been getting several of the same types of questions, we decided to structure part of this message as an FAQ.

Q: If I’m outside, do I have to wear a mask?

A: It depends. If you are outdoors and can be socially distant from everyone around you (six feet or more), face coverings are not required. If you are outdoors and you cannot practice social distancing, you should wear a face covering.

Q: What is considered to be a “close contact”? As in, “if you’ve been in close contact with…”

A: You are defined by the CDC as being in “close contact” if you have been closer than six feet to a person for 15 minutes or longer. If an infected student walks by you, or is in your area for fewer minutes, this is not considered to be close contact with the student. The COVID-19 positive individual will be instructed by Pennsylvania Department of Health contact tracers on what is close contact and what is not; only those individuals who have close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be contacted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health as someone who should quarantine.

Q: When should I be tested for COVID-19?

A: When you have symptoms (when you are symptomatic). Non-symptomatic persons do not need to be tested. Symptoms, according to the CDC, include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Q: I know that one of the students in my class tested positive. I do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. Should I be tested?

A: No. You do not need to be tested unless you have symptoms (see list above). But, if you have had close contact with the student (see above), or if the PaDoH tells you to do so, you should self-quarantine.

Q: What does self-quarantine mean?

A: Self-quarantine means that you are non-symptomatic, but you may be at risk because you were a close contact with someone who has tested positive or who is suspected to be positive for COVID-19. Stay home and monitor your health for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, contact your physician and follow her or his advice about testing.

Q: What is the difference between self-quarantine and self-isolate?

A: Self-quarantine is for people who are non-symptomatic and are at home and monitoring their health for 14 days because they have been told they had close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Self-isolation is for individuals who have symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating for 10 days plus one day without a fever and improvement of symptoms from the day they developed symptoms.

Q: Are the isolation beds in Delaney Hall only for on-campus students?

A: No, any student who tests positive can stay in one of those beds and IUP will provide care, including food and medicine delivery and monitoring of their health.

Q: Aren’t other students in Delaney and Putt Halls at risk from ventilation, coming in and out of the same doors, etc.?

A: No. The air handling units in the area where the isolation beds are located is separate from other air handling units in the building, and separate entrances are used for students who are isolating.

Q: Will I be told by IUP Health Services if a student in my class tests positive for COVID-19?

A: Probably not. Here’s why. Contact tracing is the responsibility of the PaDoH. If a student who tests positive tells the PaDoH that they’ve been in a class that has not followed IUP’s requirement for face coverings and social distancing guidelines, then the PaDoH will be in touch with you and other members of the class, and will give you advice about what you should do.

Q: I was told directly by a student that he or she tested positive for COVID-19. Why isn’t that good enough to act begin contact tracing along with including that case on the IUP COVID-19 dashboard?

A: We cannot use social media and informal reports for a matter this serious. We must set a standard for how reports are received, and the standard is the PaDoH. If you are avoiding close contact, wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and staying home if you feel ill, you are taking the right measures to protect yourself, your class, and your work colleagues from infection.

Q: I drove by a large party and saw one of my students there not wearing a mask/saw a picture or video of a student at a large party with no mask on social media/heard reports from other students that a student in the class was at a large party not wearing a mask. What should I do?

A: If you are avoiding close contact, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing in your class or workspace, you are taking the right measures to protect yourself, your class, and your work colleagues from infection.

Q: I was told by a student that they tested positive for COVID-19. I believe them. Should I report them to IUP Health Services?

A: IUP employees do not have an obligation to report positive individuals. You can suggest to students to seek treatment and guidance at IUP Health Services, but you cannot make them do so. If you are avoiding close contact, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing in your class or workspace, you are taking the right measures to protect yourself, your class, and your work colleagues from infection.

Q: How long does it take for the PaDoH to contact someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

A: The lab that determines the results has five days to report the positive case to PaDoH. The PaDoH will make two attempts by phone to contact the individual who tests positive. After two phone attempts, a letter will be sent to the individual at the address used for insurance billing purposes.

Q: Are all students who need to be tested required to be tested at IUP?

A: No. IUP students can be tested at IUP Health Services; but if the student would rather do off-site testing, and if they have transportation, then they can be tested off-site. In some cases, if a student wants to be tested off-site (they have a car, they live off-campus and would rather not come into campus to avoid the potential of infecting others), they can do the drive-through testing at Indiana Regional Medical Center with a lab order from a provider. If a student is symptomatic and being tested at IUP Health Services, they can be housed temporarily in isolation quarters until the results of the test come back; if they are positive, they can stay in self-isolation quarters, but they are not required to remain on campus; they may go home to self-isolate.

Q: Do students need to pay for a COVID-19 test?

A: Generally, testing is covered by insurance. If students have a financial issue related to paying for testing, IUP will help students on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Are students who violate the rules for face coverings or social distancing subject to university discipline?

A: As members of a community, we are all responsible for helping each other to behave in ways that keep us all safe. Sometimes people just need a gentle and appropriate reminder to wear their face covering or maintain social distance. If, for instance, you notice a gathering of individuals that do not meet the standards for health and safety (face coverings, social distancing) required by IUP based on  the CDC and PaDoH guidelines, you can also make a referral to the IUP Office of Community Standards and Student Support via this online form

Q: If I see a large group of students on campus, and they are not wearing masks, what should I do?

A: Please take the initiative to remind them of the need to follow requirements to keep themselves and others safe. Should they become belligerent, disruptive or seem threatening, contact University Police, just as you would in similar (non-pandemic) times. You can also make a referral about the incident to the IUP Office of Community Standards and Student Support via this online form.

Q: If I see a large group of students off campus, and they are not wearing masks, what should I do?

A: If the group seems out of order or seems to either present a danger to themselves or others, or seems to be Indiana Borough’s open container law, contact Indiana Borough Police, just as you would in similar (non-pandemic) times.

—Fall 2020 Planning Committee