Guidance on Student Positive Cases

Updated August 12, 2022

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Please see the central University guidance for general information.

What to do if a student discloses they have tested positive or tells you they may have been exposed to COVID-19

Instructors and staff should:

  • Arrange instructional accommodations if required: If a student must isolate or quarantine, instructors and staff should arrange accommodations for class participation (regardless of modality). These accommodations must be consistent with the policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences, but do not necessarily require hy-flex or simultaneous modes of instruction. (Refer to the policy and related FAQs for guidance). A student in isolation or quarantine should not be referred to the Disability Resource Center (DRC), but any preexisting accommodations requested via the DRC should continue to be provided.
  • Advise students of mental health resources when appropriate: Students who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed amid the challenges of COVID-19 should be encouraged to call the U of M Crisis Line at 612-301-4673 anytime or text "UMN" to 61222 on evenings and weekends.
  • Assist students who ask for assistance with individual exposure notifications if you have information available for that purpose. If students seek out the assistance of an instructor to identify those with whom they have been in contact, e.g., in a small seminar setting or lab with an available seating chart, the instructor should provide assistance with contact information or assist with notifications if asked.
  • Advise the student who discloses to you they have been notified of exposure to get tested. Students on the Twin Cities campus who have questions can contact the Boynton Nurse Line at 612-625-7900 (answered 24/7) or another trusted health care provider. Boynton Health or health care providers will provide guidance on whether a test is needed, where to find testing site locations, and whether students should stay home from classes, work, and other activities. Testing is available at Boynton Health for Twin Cities students and at other locations across the state. Check MTest for statewide testing information.

Instructors and staff should not:

  • Do any investigating or contact tracing. In some instances, students may ask for assistance in identifying close contacts through seating charts or other information, if available. They may also ask for assistance with notifications. Confidentiality of private health information is paramount at all times.
  • Disclose to anyone that a student is sick, has a positive COVID-19 test, or is in quarantine due to exposure. Each individual’s health status is protected by data privacy laws. Do not tell classes, department colleagues, student groups, teams, etc. of suspected or confirmed positive cases or individuals quarantined due to exposure unless instructed to do so by public health officials.
  • Communicate in any other way about a student’s private health information (illness, test results, etc.)—including messages within department/unit/college—to ensure that we comply with HIPAA privacy regulations, FERPA guidelines, and Minnesota Government Data Practices Act requirements.
  • Send mass notifications to entire classrooms unless there is a documented public health reason to do so as reviewed by public health partners in Boynton Health or the Health Emergency Response Office (for example, there is reason to believe a large percentage of students in the classroom meets the CDC definition of close contact).
  • Unilaterally change the modality of class before receiving guidance by public health partners about the need to do so and undertaking consultation with your department chair/unit head at a minimum and others as appropriate. Consultation by departments should engage collegiate deans and the provost. Each instructor, together with their department or program, should develop contingency plans in case an early pivot becomes necessary.