Return to Campus: Symptom Tracking/Testing

by University Marketing and Communications

 In June, Michigan Tech began Step Two of our Return to Campus Plan. As the University prepares for Step Three, students and employees, understandably, have questions. To address the issue of tracking and testing for COVID-19, we spoke with Sarah Schulte, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees and Kelly Kamm, an epidemiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

Q: How will we know if a student completes the symptom tracker? 

SS: You may have noticed the need to do Duo authentication to access the symptom tracker. The same is true for students.  The fact that symptom tracking has been completed is stored electronically and securely.  

Q: How do I get back on campus if I trigger the symptom tracker? 

SS: Employees who trigger the symptom tracker will be contacted by Human Resources. Human Resources has a great deal of useful information for those exhibiting symptoms, including remote work options, available leave, support resources — and the ability to reset symptom tracker so you can return to campus when the time is right.   

Q: How will we be testing students? 

SS: The details of student testing are still in the process of being finalized. There will be a concentrated effort around testing students upon their return to campus in August. We are working to make it as easy as possible for students to be tested — and retested, as needed.   

Q: When will you tell us about positive cases on campus? 

SS: If you come into close contact (closer than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with a confirmed case, you will be contacted by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD). Also, if you are working in an area where another employee tests positive, you will be notified of that circumstance. In addition, we have launched the COVID-19 Testing Statistics web page. This web page, located on the MTU Flex website, will be updated every Tuesday and Friday at 6 a.m. To protect the individuals’ privacy, Michigan Tech will release no details regarding the identity of individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

Q: Explain how we will investigate possible positives and how we will be doing contact tracing. Will you tell me if I had a student in my class who tests positive? 

KK: The WUPHD will interview individuals with a positive test result and determine where these people have been during that time they were infectious and who they have been in contact with during time. The WUPHD will then determine which of these individuals have been exposed (timing, duration, and proximity of contact) and notify close contacts that they may have been exposed. This is done regardless of whether the cases and/or contacts are in the Tech community or our greater community. The WUPHD will not release the name of the infected person to the contacts when they notify the contacts of their exposure. 

SS: Michigan Tech is in close contact with the WUPHD and will do additional notifications related to employee and student positive cases, as appropriate. In addition, Michigan Tech asks all employees and students who have received a COVID-19 test, regardless of the results, to inform the University via the new Report a COVID-19 Test Form, recently added to the MTU Flex Portal. This allows MTU to better monitor the health and safety of the Husky community. Like WUPHD, Michigan Tech will not release the identity of individuals who test positive for COVID-19. 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the process of isolating students who test positive?

SS: We are securing space to isolate at least 100 COVID-19 positive students at any given point in time. All COVID-19 positive students who are in residential housing will be moved to one of these isolation spaces.