Responding to Confirmed COVID Cases
In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus, St. Thomas has implemented a protocol for responding to confirmed cases of COVID-19 that involves informing community members of close contact, working with MDH, requiring quarantine, and cleaning measures.
All members of the St. Thomas community who are working, living, learning or otherwise spending time on campus are required to notify the contact-tracing team if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Please see below for additional information and reporting forms.
Reporting and Responding
All members of the St. Thomas community who are working, living, learning or otherwise spending time on campus are required to notify the contact-tracing team if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 by submitting the student self-report form or faculty/staff self-report form, which are available on OneStThomas.
Faculty and staff should also notify their supervisor/department chair of their inability to come to campus using normal call-in procedures for the department.
Students who are tested at the Center for Well-Being and who consent to the sharing of their positive test results with the contact tracing team are not required to complete the self-report form.
When students or employees report a confirmed case, they will be asked to share information relevant to contact tracing, such as:
- The date they first experienced symptoms
- The testing date and location
- The date test results were received
- The last day they were on campus
- The area(s) of campus where they have spent extensive time, in the two (2) days prior to their first symptoms or two days prior to their COVID-19 test.
- The identities of St. Thomas students, faculty and staff with whom they have had close contact.
Once a case has been confirmed, the university will act promptly to mitigate virus spread. St. Thomas will work with MDH to conduct on-campus contact tracing. In addition, St. Thomas will use this information to monitor for potential outbreaks and assess cleaning needs.
When a community member notifies the university of a confirmed case, a St. Thomas contact tracer will:
- Notify students, faculty and staff at St. Thomas with whom they have had close contact. The name of the individual with COVID-19 and identifying details will not be used in this notice. These individuals will be required to quarantine. MDH will perform contact tracing with respect to off-campus close contacts.
- Determine if any additional notices are required. For example, if a campus area needs to be closed for cleaning, individuals who work/live in that area will be notified. Again, the name of the individual with COVID-19 will not be used in the notice.
- Provide the individual and other impacted individuals with information related to required isolation or quarantine. Determine what, if any, additional cleaning is required.
Individuals who have not had direct contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but who have been in the same general area are not required to quarantine. They should, however, follow the same precautionary measures as all members of the community: practicing good hygiene, social distancing, wearing a mask or other cloth face covering when sharing indoor spaces with others, monitoring their health and staying home when displaying symptoms or feeling sick. Students with particular concerns may contact the Dean of Students Office and faculty and staff may contact their HR partner.
St. Thomas will treat information received by the contact tracer as confidential and will share information only as needed to ensure compliance with public health guidelines, directives and this plan. Names of impacted individuals will never be shared in public communications.
All community members are expected to help maintain the privacy and anonymity of individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure. Individuals who are able to identify the individual based on the circumstances are expected to be discreet. For example, it is OK to share you are quarantining due to a direct contact with an individual with COVID-19, but do not share the individual’s name. We want to be respectful and supportive of all community members through this crisis.
The confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis will be reported to local and/or state health authorities by the health care provider that conducted the test, including the Center for Well-Being if it conducted the test. St. Thomas may also share the information provided by students and employees directly with MDH. St. Thomas will work closely with state and local health officials on any recommended measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. St. Thomas community members who have been in direct contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis may be contacted by both St. Thomas and state or local health officials as part of contact tracing efforts.
MDH will perform contact tracing with respect to off-campus close contacts. This means that if a neighbor of a student has been in contact with an infected student for a period of more than 15 minutes closer than 6 ft, they will be notified of this contact through the Minnesota Department of Health’s investigation and given guidance about isolating. The University is not allowed to share personal health data about any student.
Isolation and Quarantine
Any member of the St. Thomas community who is diagnosed with COVID-19 is expected to follow the CDC isolation guidelines to help protect the health of the greater community and prevent disease transmission. They should work under the care and direction of their medical provider and collaborate with campus contact tracers to determine when they are able to return to campus or to the classroom. In general, individuals are expected to stay home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours (without use of medicine that reduces fever) and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and other symptoms have improved.
All members of the St. Thomas community should comply with recommendations to stay home and quarantine if feeling sick. Fourteen days of quarantine generally is required for any students or employees who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19; a shorter, ten-day quarantine may be approved by the contact tracing team if the individual: (1) has been symptom-free for 10 days following exposure; (2) had a negative COVID-19 test seven days following exposure, and (3) is not living in the same household as someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Individuals who are in quarantine should coordinate with campus contact tracers to determine when they are able to return to campus or to the classroom.
Residential students who are not able to isolate or quarantine off campus may be moved to a temporary isolation/quarantine housing unit. Residence Life has a coordinated care protocol with Dining, Health Services, Dean of Students, and the Center for Well-Being for students in need of this housing. Students will receive support to continue with their academics while in isolation or quarantine.
Faculty and staff will be supported to work remotely to the degree they are able while in isolation or quarantine.
In some situations, community members may be advised to “self-quarantine” or engage in a “mini-quarantine,” even if they have not been confirmed to be a close contact of a person who has tested positive (for example, after travelling). The goal of a self-quarantine or a mini-quarantine is to minimize contact with people outside your household. During a self-quarantine or mini-quarantine, individuals may continue engaging in essential activities including: class, work, required academic activities, grocery shopping, eating in the dining hall or picking up food, religious services, and medical appointments. Individuals must wear face coverings and social distance while engaging in essential activities. An individual who experiences any COVID-19 symptoms or has been notified they have been in direct contact with a known positive person should quarantine in place and contact their health care provider or the Center for Well Being.
The Center for Well-Being is currently prioritizing testing of symptomatic patients for COVID-19 using molecular (PCR) tests; asymptomatic testing may be available at the Center for Well Being as space permits. Additional contact tracing/expanded testing of asymptomatic individuals may be utilized in specific situations, such as localized clusters of COVID-19 cases on campus and other appropriate situations. St. Thomas will continue to work with MDH to provide options for mass-testing events and targeted testing of areas of concern.
The Center for Well-Being has partnered with University of Minnesota/Mayo Lab System as well as Quest Diagnostics to ensure that there is adequate access to testing supplies and services in the event that recommendations change and expanded testing is recommended.
Faculty and staff who are sick should contact their primary health care provider for testing. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health currently has several free testing sites available and is offering free at-home tests. See the MDH website for additional information.
Important: All individuals who are notified of a positive test result must notify St. Thomas using the self-reporting forms on OneStThomas:
Planning for Potential Surge in Cases or Closing
The university has developed and continues to update plans to respond to a possible surge in cases on campus or in the community. Such plans will be consistent with public health guidance and directives. A surge in cases or other external factors may impact campus operations, including changes to dining hall or residence hall operations, changes to service levels or building hours, or a possible need to place additional or all classes online and closure of some residence hall(s). Factors that will be considered include government directives, the level of transmission, options for reducing transmission risks, community compliance with protocols and the ability of the university to effectively manage on-campus cases. A list of “Key Considerations” for changes in operation is available.
In the event that a surge in cases locally or nationally causes St. Thomas to put some or all classes online, St. Thomas will be prepared to continue and complete courses online. Tuition and fees will not be refunded. If residence halls are closed, charges for residence hall rooms and meal plans generally will be prorated.
NOTE: All information on these Campus Preparedness Plan webpages comes from the Preparedness Plan document. If you have questions about what you read on this website, please refer to the latest version of that document.