Public health response to COVID-19 cases in academic spaces

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COVID-19 guidance and collaboration

CSU follows public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Larimer County Public Health. The Pandemic Preparedness Team has collaborated with Larimer County Public Health to implement best-practice public health measures throughout all university campuses.

These procedures are subject to change due to changing public health orders, guidelines or best practices.

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Public health classroom guidance

  • Faculty should reinforce compliance with public health measures in the classroom, laboratory and other academic spaces.
  • Masks or face coverings are required unless an accommodation has been approved.
  • Physical distancing should be maintained at all times.
  • Laboratory course that require closer contact should implement the use of face shields, in addition to masks.
  • Seating charts should be used to allow for contact tracing, if needed.
  • Eating in the classroom should be prohibited. Drinks may be allowed (briefly remove the mask to drink and immediately replace it).
  • Students should be encouraged to use a disinfecting wipe to clean their desk and chair prior to each class. Hand sanitizer and wipe stations are provided in or near each classroom.

Public health classroom procedure for a single COVID case:

  • Students reporting symptoms or a positive test result through the COVID Reporter will automatically be flagged for outreach by the CSU Public Health team and instructed to isolate pending guidance.
  • If a faculty member is uncertain the student has reported the symptoms, faculty may report concerns through the COVID Reporter or, in an urgent situation, may call the CSU Public Health office at 970-491-4600.
  • CSU Public Health will conduct an assessment to determine if the individual has or likely has COVID. If so, Public Health will interview the ill person and contact trace to determine who may have had a close contact exposure to the infected person.
  • A close contact is defined as being less than 6 ft distance from an infected person for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
  • CSU Public Health will call close contacts and place them on quarantine for 14 days from exposure.
  • Faculty may be asked to provide seating charts to assist with contact tracing.
  • CSU Public Health coordinates closely with Housing & Dining when students residing in University Housing are COVID positive or are close contacts. This includes moving students to isolation or quarantine to designated housing units.
  • CSU Public Health and Housing & Dining also coordinates with Student Case Management and CSU Health Network to provide support services for academics, emotional health, etc.
  • Faculty will receive notification of a positive case in their classroom but will not receive confidential health information related to the case.
  • Students are responsible for notifying faculty of their absences. If a faculty member wants to verify information received from a student, they can report their concern through the COVID Reporter or call Public Health at 970-491-4600.
  • In most cases, classrooms will not be closed for a single case and routine disinfection protocols will be followed.

Public health classroom procedure for an outbreak of two or more COVID cases:

  • The above public health measures will be followed for all COVID cases.
  • In addition, if there are two or more positive cases in a classroom, CSU Public Health will coordinate a response with Larimer County Public Health.
  • Please be aware that this may occur and the cases are unrelated, or it may occur because of activities outside of the classroom (such as transmission through small gatherings of friends in the same class). This is not necessarily an indication that the exposure occurred in the classroom or laboratory environment.
  • Based on an evaluation of the cases, the classroom may be closed for 24-72 hours for high level disinfection.
  • Public Health will notify faculty of classroom closures.
  • Public Health will coordinate with Facilities Management, which will conduct high level disinfection.

Public Health classroom procedure for a cluster of five or more COVID cases:

  • CSU Public Health will coordinate with Larimer County Public Health for case management and response.
  • Classrooms will be closed for 24-72 hours for high level disinfection.
  • CSU Public Health and Larimer County Public Health will determine the need to isolate or quarantine faculty and students.
  • Faculty may be directed to move the class online for a 14-day period or other period, as determined by public health guidance.

University COVID-19 Monitoring

CSU tracks a variety of metrics to assess the health status of CSU students, faculty and staff and greater Fort Collins community. No one factor is used to determine if the university needs to move to a different level of operations. Decisions to change course delivery methods, or university operations are made in consultation with state and local public health, Colorado Department of Health and Environment, and the CSU Board of Governors.

COVID-19 metrics

  • Number of active outbreaks or clusters associated with in-person activities at the university
  • Contact tracing – average initial outreach time from case notification
  • CSU screening and testing turnaround time
  • Availability of isolation and quarantine space
  • Availability of mandatory personal protective equipment for specific functions, such as surgical masks, N95, gloves, gown)
  • Larimer County hospital capacity
  • Larimer County ICU capacity
  • Larimer County new positive cases in last 24 hours
  • Larimer County case rate (the rate of occurrence of new cases/100K)
  • R Naught – An indicator of how contagious the virus is or how easily it spreads from person to person in the community.

Outbreak: Two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period that are linked to a setting.

Close contact: An individual that was within 6 ft distance of an infected person for greater than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.

Cluster: More than five cases with primary exposure reported at a common event or venue, excluding within-household transmissions.

Isolation: Individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection are excluded from university grounds for 10 days from symptom onset AND at least 24 hours fever free.

Quarantine: Close contacts are excluded from university grounds for a period of time as determined by public health officials.