Roadmap for Reopening: Communications Regarding a COVID-19 Case

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

In the past few weeks, some employees have begun receiving notifications regarding exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19 from the College’s Contact Tracing Team.

In an effort to dispel doubts and quell fears employees may have, we are outlining the different kinds of notifications employees are receiving and the approaches the College is taking with each designation as it relates to COVID-19 exposure. Currently, there are three designations of individuals in Valencia’s contact tracing protocols. They are:

Positive or presumed positive case

Employees who self-identify as positive for COVID-19 or are presumed to be positive receive a phone call and email from our case management team requesting contact identification and offering support with employment. These individuals are required to isolate and seek medical attention. Employees are paid for scheduled hours during isolation through either emergency paid sick leave or leave with pay. Employees are required to receive clearance from case management to return to work. To view a sample email regarding a positive case that employees may receive, click here.

Close contact

Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as someone who has been within 6 feet of someone with a positive diagnosis for longer than 15 minutes. This applies even if the close contact was wearing a face mask. An example of this would be an employee who demonstrated defensive tactics training with another team member, which requires physical proximity and contact, with one person testing positive for COVID-19 and the other considered to be a close contact. In this case, both would receive email notifications and a phone call from our case management team offering support. The person defined as a close contact is required to quarantine for 14 days. Employees are paid for scheduled hours during quarantine using leave with pay. To view a sample email regarding a close contact case employees may receive, click here.

Potential contact

A potential contact is defined as someone who was in the same facility or location as someone with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for a very brief period of time. An example could be a security officer who tests positive for COVID-19 and comes into contact — usually for less than five minutes — in a non-physical manner with individuals while providing building access; with all individuals wearing face masks. Through contact tracing and tracking, the College then identifies the individuals the officer assisted with building access. In this case, those individuals would receive an email from our case management team informing them of the potential contact. Employees who choose to leave campus due to concerns related to a potential contact will not be paid. To view a sample email of a potential contact case employees may receive, click here.

Students also receive similar emails, customized to their situation, for a positive or presumed case, close contact or potential contact.

Jessica King, director, HRIS and analytics, who supports Valencia’s contact tracing effort, said understanding the differences between each designation is key for employees.

“Understanding the difference between a close contact and a potential contact is important,” Jessica said. “We had a run of people who got the ‘potential exposure’ email and thought that they needed to quarantine. I think that’s people being scared.”

“In any scary situation, the primary goal is to seek safety and regain your composure. If our team contacts you, either by phone or email, it’s okay to be a bit overwhelmed,” Jessica added. “Find a place to sit down and take a few deep breaths. If you received an email, read it carefully. Feel free to reach back out with questions. We’re making every effort to help keep our colleagues and students both healthy and informed.”

Tanya Mahan, organizational development HR analyst and Valencia’s main point of contact for COVID-related reporting, encouraged employees to continue to be safe.

“You can’t control what everyone else is doing, but you can make sure you stay safe, by wearing a mask, by staying 6 feet away, and by not hugging strangers,” Tanya said. “You can’t assume that everyone else is following social distancing guidelines 100% of the time, but YOU can make sure YOU do. And by doing that, you will keep yourself safe. Be the one. Be the one to wear a mask.”

The College recommends that employees:

  • Continue to follow the most recent set of social distancing guidelines, not only at work, but in the community.
  • Use the CDC self-checker every day that you are on campus, and familiarize yourself with it and its symptom tracker. The symptom tracker, for example, may suggest that you stay home but also indicate that your symptoms likely aren’t related to COVID-19.
  • Follow all safety protocols on-site, including wearing a mask, physically distancing from one another and frequent hand washing.
  • Check Valencia’s illness reporting webpage often, as information will change as we continue to learn more about COVID-19.
  • Email the Contact Tracing Team at covidillness@valenciacollege.edu with any questions regarding contact-tracing communications.
  • Contact your supervisor if you have questions or intend to be absent from work due to COVID-related notifications.

For questions or additional information, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at HR4U@valenciacollege.edu, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

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