COVID-19 Exposure Frequently Asked Questions
I just learned that an employee or student on campus tested positive for COVID-19. Am I at risk?
When a university employee or student tests positive, the public health department and University shall initiate contact tracing and will get in touch with anyone it identifies as a close contact. Close contact, according to the CDC’s most recent guidance, means prolonged contact (15 minutes or more) and within six feet with an individual with confirmed COVID-19 or direct contact with that individual’s infectious secretions or excretions. If you are not a close contact, you have no special precautions to take at this time, though everyone should follow prevention measures to keep themselves healthy. These measures include practicing good hygiene and social distancing, wearing a face covering, monitoring your health, and staying home if you are sick.
Will MSSU alert me if I am exposed to COVID-19?
All positive COVID-19 tests are reported to the health department as well as the MSSU Willcoxon Health Center. Both of these offices will work together to notify other health officials, as well as impacted faculty, staff, and students based on contact tracing and local health department guidance of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), FERPA or and other applicable laws and regulations.
Will MSSU disclose the identity of the individual?
The university will not be releasing the name of any employee or student that tests positive for COVID-19 to the general community. Employee and patient confidentiality laws prohibit the university from disclosing this information. We appreciate your understanding of these privacy limitations. Any employees who become aware of the identity of any such individual should respect that person’s privacy and abide by all privacy rules related to personal information. The university will provide periodic updates regarding COVID-19 cases and will contact those that may be at risk for exposure. The university will not, however, issue notifications with each individual case.
What is MSSU doing to protect me from potential exposure to the individual who tested positive?
MSSU is following CDC and other related federal and state guidance on the handling of potential and actual positive COVID-19 cases. MSSU is and will remain committed to protecting the health, safety and welfare of our entire campus community. MSSU is taking the following steps with regard to any employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19:
Advise Sick Individuals of Home Isolation Criteria
- Sick faculty, staff, or students should not return to in-person classes or University facilities, or end isolation until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick
- Faculty, staff, and students should not come to the University if they are sick. They should notify the MSSU Willcoxon Health Center if a student or the Willcoxon Health Center and HR if an employee becomes sick with COVID-19 symptoms, tests positive for COVID-19, or was exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
- Immediately separate faculty, staff, and students with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath). Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC Guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick. For those that live in University housing, follow CDC’s Guidance for Shared or Congregate Housing. The Willcoxon Health Center is trying to limit the number of ill patients entering the building and waiting area. If you are ill, you must call for an appointment at 417-625-9323. You will be given instructions on how to safely enter the building.
Clean and Disinfect
- Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting
- Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- Once sanitized, the room or space can be used again.
Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts
- All positive COVID-19 tests are reported to the Health Department as well as the MSSU Willcoxon Health Center. Both of these offices will work together to notify other health officials, as well as impacted faculty, staff, and students based on contact tracing and local health department guidance of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), FERPA or and other applicable laws and regulations.
- Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home or in their living quarters and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
I think I might have been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the university. What do I do?
What about time off if I am sick, have been exposed or are caring for someone who is sick?
- Examine and revise policies for excused absences and virtual learning (students).
- The university continues to provide qualifying employees with up to two (2) weeks of telework for situations that meet one of the six (6) items covered under the FFCRA. Please contact Human Resources for details as well as the related form. Should employees need additional time beyond the two (2) weeks they can complete the FMLA request form, ADA request form or file for a leave of absence as indicated below.
- FMLA is also available to qualifying employees for up to 12 weeks, should they need it for COVID-19 related situations as approved by a medical doctor.
- The Leave of Absence policy as indicated in the MSSU Employee Handbook, is also an option for qualifying employees should they need it.
- Leave and excused absence policies should be flexible, not be punitive to people for taking time off and should allow sick employees and students to stay home and away from others. Leave and excused absence policies should also account for employees and students who need to stay home with their children if there are school or childcare closures, or to care for sick family members.
- Regarding students returning to classes and facilities after COVID-19 illness follow CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation and quarantine.