Contact Tracing 101: Considerations for Collegiate COVID-19 Strategy

For colleges and universities reopening campuses this fall, contact tracing is the best, most efficient way to track the spread of the coronavirus.

When coronavirus arrived in South Korea in February, it quickly spread, and South Korea soon had the highest number of coronavirus patients outside of China. Today, it has one of the lowest infection rates in the entire world. How? Contact tracing. 

Contact tracing is one of the best tools we have for combating COVID-19, and South Korea is a prime example. For colleges and universities reopening campuses this fall, contact tracing is the best, most efficient way to track the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a couple points to consider as you craft your own Contact Tracing strategy. 

Contact tracing isn’t new by any means, but it’s become more widely discussed in the COVID-19 era. As the South Korea example demonstrates and the CDC notes, contact tracing is extremely useful in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

What is it

To put it simply, Contract Tracing is a practice wherein people who have been exposed to the virus are identified, notified about their exposure, and cautioned to monitor their health for symptoms, get tested, and quarantine if they test positive or have been in close contact with someone who has. This allows governments and organizations to track how the virus moves throughout a given population, enabling them to contain the spread. 

Approaching it

For universities’ contact tracing strategies, the biggest challenge will be to decide how to conduct the tracing and notify members of the community about any exposure. The easiest way to do this will be to leverage your already existing communications systems, whether that be via an email list, text message notifications, post notifications via your school’s app, or a combination of the three. It’s also vital that colleges and universities provide clear communication about what students should do if they need to be tested, and what students should do if they test positive. 

Reporting it

Contact Tracing, by its definition, only works if the results are reported and public health departments can trace outbreaks back to their source. If your campus has implemented a Contact Tracing procedure for the fall semester, consider how your testing information will be relayed to your local health department so they can notify anyone else who needs to be.

Want to learn more about how Contact Tracing can benefit your university's COVID-19 strategy? Get in touch with us here.

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