During the semester, a situation may arise where a student or co-worker voluntarily discloses to a faculty, staff or a co-worker that they have tested positive for COVID-19. This is most likely to be done via text, a phone call or an email. Hopefully, not in person!

In such a situation, here are some things to keep in mind:

Mask requirement and social distancing

First, remember that there is a mask requirement and a social distancing requirement on campus. If those are observed, and along with proper hygiene, the risk of transmission is reduced. It is the absence of those two things — masks and social distancing — that are the greatest contributors to virus transmission, not picking up the virus from a surface.

Disclosure is not permission to tell others

Such a voluntary disclosure to you as a university employee does not equate permission to tell others that a specific student or co-worker has tested positive. That would require the student and/or employee’s consent.

Quarantine only if the health department tells you to

You do not need to self-quarantine unless you are contacted by a Gallatin City-County Health Department staffer telling you to do so.

You do not need to 'report' a person's self-disclosure

You do not need to “report” the self-disclosure to your supervisor, department head, co-workers or students. Please keep in mind that every person who tests positive is interviewed by health professionals under the supervision of the Gallatin City-County Health Department who make a determination as to who their close contacts were. If you are a close contact you will receive a call from a health professional. If you are not a close contact, you won’t get a call. It is very possible that a student self discloses to you that they tested positive, but that Gallatin City-County Health determines you are not a close contact because classrooms are 6-feet socially distanced.

'Extra cleaning' isn't needed

Your classroom does not need “extra cleaning.” Please remember, the university has already dramatically increased its cleaning frequency of every classroom. Every classroom is cleaned once per day. By the time a student tests positive, gets the results back and lets a faculty member know they are positive, that classroom will have already been cleaned at least once by university custodial services.

Additionally both you (if you’re a faculty member) and your students were issued a Clean ‘Cat Kit with a surface disinfectant and cloths to wipe down any surfaces you might touch as well as hand sanitizer to clean your hands after touching any other surfaces.

Your office space likely does not need “extra cleaning,” but if you are a supervisor you can double check with Safety and Risk Management for your particular circumstance. Or an employee can ask their supervisor to check. Again, all employees are equipped with their own means of cleaning the surfaces they use as well as keeping their hands clean with the Clean ‘Cat Kit and custodial services are coming through regularly.

Wear your mask, keep your distance

And again, please remember that there is a mask requirement and a social distancing requirement on campus. If those are observed, along with proper hygiene, the risk of transmission is reduced. It is the absence of those two things — masks and social distancing — that are the greatest contributors to virus transmission, not picking up the virus from a surface.