Contact tracing is a key public health strategy for preventing the further spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing begins when a person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or been diagnosed with COVID-19 is asked to provide information about other people they have been in close contact with during the time when they may have been infectious and able to transmit the virus.
In order to assist the contact tracer, students and employees must maintain a list of people with whom they have been in close contact each day. This information helps to quickly identify those who may have been exposed. The Vermont Department of Health or a Middlebury staff member will reach out to students or employees who have been identified as having had close contact with the person who had COVID-19 and will provide them with information and resources to quarantine. To protect privacy, contacts are informed only that they may have been exposed through close contact to someone with the infection. They are not told the identity of the person who may have exposed them.
Contacts of Contacts
Sometimes, individuals who know a person with COVID-19 may wonder if they are at risk for developing the illness, even if the Department of Health does not contact them. Examples include friends of roommates of the infected person or coworkers of an individual who has a family member at home diagnosed with COVID-19. In most cases these people are considered a contact of a contact and are not considered to be at risk for developing illness. Contacts of contacts are therefore not required to quarantine unless they are in direct contact with someone who tests positive.
To ensure full compliance with contact tracing, information gathered in the contact tracing process is not shared with the Office of Community Standards or otherwise used in the conduct processes.
See also the Vermont Department of Health information on Close Contacts & Contact Tracing and fact sheet on “what to do if you’re a close contact.”
Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation is required for people who test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to be separated from others to avoid infecting them. For individuals who do not have symptoms before testing positive, isolation will normally last 10 days. However, some individuals may require additional time in isolation, depending on the course of their symptoms.
Employees who need to isolate will do so at their homes and may not return to work until they have met the Vermont Department of Health guidelines for recovery and have final clearance from Human Resources.
Students who test positive will be contacted by Health Services and will be temporarily moved to a designated residential space (called isolation housing) to reduce the chance of infecting others. This Supporting Our Students in Isolation and Quarantine webpage provides information for students about what to expect if they are required to isolate.
Quarantine is a way for individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with an infected individual to limit their contact with others while it is determined whether they have COVID-19. Individuals will remain in quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure or until they receive a negative Day 7 test, if they have had no symptoms. If symptoms develop, the quarantined individual must be evaluated for active COVID-19 infection and must continue to follow Vermont Department of Health guidelines.
Employees who may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 will need to quarantine in their homes. They are not permitted to work on campus until they have completed the quarantine as instructed by the Vermont Department of Health.
Students identified through contact tracing who need to quarantine will be contacted by Health Services or the Vermont Department of Health (in this case the student should remain in their room and notify Health Services for instructions). College staff will provide specific instructions on where the student will complete the quarantine period (either in their current room or a residential space designated for quarantine). This Supporting Our Students in Isolation and Quarantine webpage provides information for students about what to expect if they are required to quarantine.
Students who wish to complete exposure-related quarantine or isolation away from Middlebury rather than remain in isolation on campus may be permitted to do so only in exceptional circumstances, and depending on current state requirements. If state requirements allow, students must obtain permission from Health Services after submitting a plan for safe travel and isolation. Students who wish to return to campus after isolation will be subject to additional testing and/or quarantine requirements before and upon return. Students must understand that, depending on the timing of their request and other circumstances, they may not be able to return to campus.