Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing

Why & Where to Get TestedHawk Check Daily Self-Assessment

Montclair State University will conduct widespread health screening, implement a protocol for testing, and collaborate with public health authorities to trace contacts of infected persons. Coupled with the general safeguards described above, these public health measures will contribute to the well-being of the entire campus community. These procedures comply with the guidance provided by the State of New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and are consistent with Federal and State health privacy statutes and regulations.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Health Center has logged all known cases of COVID-19 among students, staff and faculty and published regular reports about new cases on its website. The University Health Center has been conducting contact tracing and outreach in collaboration with the local health department and other health departments in New Jersey.

During Stage 2, as the University begins the fall semester, Montclair State will expand and enhance its efforts. Specifically, it will:

  • launch an online self-screening tool that employees, students, visitors and contractors will use each day to monitor their health and report any risk factors
  • require testing for students before they move into residence halls
  • require testing for students and employees in “high contact” programs
  • increase its contact tracing capacity and supporting the work of tracers with enhanced technology and data

These additional efforts will continue during Stage 3.

Screening

During the COVID-19 pandemic, self-assessment tools have been found to be a valuable source of education that individuals can use to determine if medical evaluation is necessary. Online self-assessment tools published by medical institutions and governmental health agencies guide persons through questions and suggest when to seek medical care. These tools can support the implementation of a screening assessment, which is the initial step in mitigating the spread and promoting the early detection of COVID-19.

The University will utilize an electronic self-screening assessment, to be called “Hawk Check,” designed to help individual students, faculty, staff, visitors, and contractors identify if they may have:

  • Experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Been in contact with a person being medically evaluated for COVID-19.
  • Traveled outside of the U.S. or to areas within the U.S. identified as a hotspot.

Based on individual responses to a series of questions, the individual may appropriately come to campus for study or work, or stay home, or seek medical assistance, either at home or on campus.

Screening Process

In order to maintain a safe work environment, all employees, students, contractors and visitors will be required to complete a daily screening assessment before returning to campus. Students who live on campus should complete the assessment daily before leaving their room.

The assessment must be completed 6 to 12 hours before arriving on campus, to allow time for the University Health Center and Occupational Health Department to review results and, if needed, contact individuals who screen positive. The self assessment will be accomplished on an electronic application provided by the University. See Appendix C for the questions that will be asked.

  • If an employee answers yes to any question, s/he should remain home and consider contacting a healthcare provider. The employee should inform his/her supervisor in the usual way that they are taking sick leave. The employee may, when and as appropriate, receive a call from an authorized University officer from the Occupational Health Department or the Office of Human Resources.
  • If a student who lives on campus answers yes to any question, the student should self-isolate (quarantine) in his or her room and contact the University Health Center.
  • If a student who lives off campus answers yes to any question, the student should remain off-campus and consider contacting a healthcare provider. The student may, based on symptoms and risk factors reported, receive a call from the University Health Center.
  • If a visitor answers yes to any question, s/he should remain off-campus until they have talked to a healthcare provider.
  • If a contractor who is issued a network ID answers yes to any question, s/he should remain off-campus and may, based on symptoms and risk factors reported, receive a call from the Occupational Health Department.
  • If a contractor who does not have a university network ID answers yes to any question, the person should remain off-campus and to contact the University sponsor or person to whom they report.

Confidentiality

Responses to the health self-assessment application will be stored electronically and kept separate from all other University records. This data will be kept confidential, and will not be accessed unless the response indicates the presence of, symptoms of, or exposure to COVID-19. In such circumstances, employee responses will be accessed only by authorized officers from the Division of Human Resources, or Occupational Health, and student responses by the University Health Center. The identity of individuals shall not be disclosed beyond these offices except as required to conduct contact tracing and to protect the public health with the local, County or State Department of Health or as required by applicable laws.

Testing Protocol

Who Will Be Tested

Individuals who engage in University-related activities that bring them into close contact with others on a regular basis and who are, therefore, at increased risk for transmission of the virus, will be required to be tested before arriving on campus. Such individuals include students, staff and faculty in, for example:

  • all students living in the residence halls
  • all employees who live in residence halls or work closely with the residential population
  • all student athletes and staff in Intercollegiate Athletics

In addition, testing may be required for students and employees in other programs and activities that involve close contact. Those individuals will be informed directly by their program

The CDC does not recommend testing of every member of the campus community before allowing campus entry. There is no evidence that widespread entry testing reduces transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected from preventive measures such as social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, hand washing, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection, all of which the University will require.

Procedures for Pre-Return Testing

One week prior to arrival on campus, students and employees in the high-contact groups identified above will be required to complete SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) testing at a site of their choice. The PCR nasal swab is the preferred screening test; however, any FDA-approved test is acceptable.

One week prior to arrival on campus, these students and employees will be encouraged to remain at home and begin monitoring themselves for symptoms and risk factors of COVID-19.

Students

Students who are required to be tested will submit their test results to the MyHealth Portal before arriving on campus. Student athletes will submit their results to a designated Athletic Trainer. Students participating in clinical programs will submit results to the designated program coordinator, as required by the host site

Students diagnosed with COVID-19 who are not in residence on campus must remain off campus in isolation per CDC guidelines (currently 14 days) and return to campus and activities after being medically cleared.

Employees

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must report the result to the University’s Occupational Health Department and must remain off campus and present a fitness for duty certification to Human Resources before returning to work.

Additional Testing

The University may require periodic, repeated testing (“serial testing”) for the groups identified above or for other individuals or groups, based on risk assessment, current epidemiologic surveillance data, NJ and Federal health guidelines, and professional organization recommendations.

Testing Sites

From time to time the University Health Center may offer testing on campus. It will inform students and employees.The University Health Center will also maintain a list on its  website.of testing site options that are available to students and employees. Such a list, as of the current date, would include, for example:

  • CVS – Cedar Grove and state-wide
  • Zufall FQHC – West Orange and state-wide
  • Montclair Health Dept – MSU Collaboration
  • Testing site within the county of individual’s residence
  • Individual’s medical provider

Students who need testing and do not have transportation options should contact the Dean of Students Office.

Procedures for Individuals who Report Symptoms of COVID-19

Students

When a student reports symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or answers affirmatively to any question on the online screening application, the application will provide these instructions:

Return to and remain at home or in your residence hall room, self-isolate, contact your primary health care provider, and notify the University Health Center.

Upon notification, the University Health Center will assign a registered nurse or an advanced practice nurse to:

  1. Conduct an initial evaluation, either remotely or in person, or refer the student for hospital evaluation if symptoms are severe.
  2. Develop a plan of care based on the initial evaluation:
    • If the student will receive care from an external primary care provider, the student will be instructed to self-isolate and follow-up as instructed by the primary care provider.
    • If the student will receive care from the University Health Center, an appointment will be scheduled with an advanced practice nurse.
  3. Provide COVID-19 patient education.

Procedures for management of a student with confirmed or suspected COVID-19

The University Health Center must be notified of any student who is tested or placed in isolation. The student will remain in isolation according to the established guidelines and until medically cleared to return to campus activity.

  1.  The University Health Center will:
    • Activate the contact tracing protocol.
    • Assure that the student is placed in an appropriate isolation area (residential room or at home).
    • Provide residential students with follow-up assessment by phone during regular business hours daily, or more frequently based on individual needs.
  1. Continuity of Education
  2. Transportation of Ill Students
    • In the event a residential student experiences increased severity of signs or symptoms indicating the need for escalation of care, the student will be transported by MSU EMS or other mutual aid provider to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson or Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair.
    • MSU EMS personnel will receive appropriate PPE and training.
    • Students without means of transportation to routine COVID-19 related appointments should contact the Office of the Dean of Students for assistance.

Employees

When an employee reports symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or answers affirmatively to any question on the online screening application, the application will provide these instructions:

Return to or remain at home (or your residence hall room for those who live in the residence halls) self-isolate, inform your supervisor, contact your primary health care provider, and notify the Occupational Health Department.

If an employee becomes sick while at work on campus, they must:

  • notify their supervisor; and
  • complete a COVID-19 symptom checker (electronic or paper); and
  • contact the Occupational Health Department and if they answer yes to any of the screening questions, then
  • must return home immediately, staying isolated as best as possible from other people while on campus and in transit, isolate at home, and contact their primary care provider or go to the Emergency Room.

Any employee who will be absent due to COVID-19 should contact Employee Benefits at benefits@montclair.edu to discuss their options for sick leave.

When an employee reports symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test, the Occupational Health Department will:

  1. Assign a registered nurse or physician to conduct an initial assessment, either remotely or in person, or refer the employee for hospital evaluation if symptoms are severe.
  2. Develop a plan of care based on the initial evaluation:
    • If the employee will receive care from an external primary care provider, they will be instructed to self-isolate and follow-up as instructed by the primary care provider.
    • If the employee will receive care from the Occupational Health Department, an appointment will be scheduled with a physician.
  1. Provide COVID-19 patient education.

Procedures for management of an employee with confirmed or suspected COVID-19

The Occupational Health Department will be notified of any employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has been placed in isolation because of symptoms of, or contact with a person with symptoms or a diagnosis of, COVID-19. Notification to the Occupational Health Department will come from the online screening application, from Human Resources, from the individual’s supervisor, or from the individual directly.

Occupational Health will:

  • Activate the Contact Tracing protocol.
  • Advise the employee to remain in isolation according to the established guidelines and to remain off campus until medically cleared to return to campus activity. If an employee resides on campus, the employee will be relocated to housing designated for isolation if necessary.
  • If the employee is on campus at the time of the report, advise the employee to return home immediately, and, if waiting for a pick up, to do so in a room isolated from others , and to wear a face covering.
  • If emergency attention is needed, call University Police, 973-655-5222.
Contact Tracing Protocol

Overview

During Stages 1 and 2, the University Health Center has been maintaining a case log and a contact list for each member of the campus community, including both students and employees, known to have been infected, and has conducted contact tracing in collaboration with the specific health department that has responsibility for each case.

As the University begins to reopen more fully, the University’s contact tracing program will be expanded. The Occupational Health Department will take over responsibility for logging and tracing employee and visitor cases, while the University Health Center will focus on student cases. Students will be trained to serve as contact tracers, working under the supervision of a health care professional.

Montclair State’s contact tracing efforts will focus largely on identifying persons on campus who may have been in contact with an infected person for extended periods of time. The University will continue to work closely with the specific health department that has responsibility for each case.

The Alert System to Trigger Contact Tracing

The Occupational Health Department will manage the alert system that may trigger contact tracing for employees, and the University Health Center will manage the process for students.

These two services may receive the alert through a variety of mechanisms, including:

  • An individual may answer affirmatively to one or more of the questions on the Health Screening Assessment tool.
  • An individual may provide information when receiving on-campus healthcare services for a specific concern.
  • An individual may self-report the information to a supervisor, a professor or advisor, or to another employee, who in turn should report it to the Occupational Health Department or the University Health Service.

Tracing Process

When Montclair State University health care professionals become aware of an employee or student who may be infected, they will conduct an individual assessment, then determine if other members of the University community need to be identified, contacted and advised to enter quarantine.

Tracing will be conducted by health care professionals and trained students, who will call the at-risk individuals and ask a series of scripted questions to identify with whom they have been in close contact (“proximal contacts”) during the period when they may have become infected. The State of New Jersey currently defines “close contact” as coming within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more.

Tracing will also be supported by technology that can help identify the campus locations visited by an individual at a particular day and time. This location data will be supplemented by work or class schedules and residence hall rosters.

The University will continue to work closely with local health departments, which have their own contact tracing protocols that are initiated when they receive a positive test result about a person in their jurisdiction, based on the home or campus address provided by the employee or student. The University’s process, when added to the work of the local health department, will decrease the time during which an affected person can transmit the virus.

Actions taken upon alert of a possible COVID-19 case

The specific actions taken depend on the context in which the information was provided.

Health Screening Assessment

Positive responses to questions in the Hawk Check (health screening assessment) tool provide an alert to University Health or Occupational Health. A health care professional will then contact the individual and ask the appropriate questions to assess the health status of the individual. The individual will be provided health information and resources according to the most recent guidelines.

Proximity contact tracing by the University will be initiated if the person has a positive test, is waiting for test results, or if the person has symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

On-campus health care services

If the health care professional providing services determines the individual has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then diagnostic testing may be ordered. The individual will be provided health education and resources, according to the most recent guidelines. Proximal contact tracing will be initiated. In the case of a student, arrangements for isolation and other risk reduction measures will be activated.

Self-reporting by employee or student

Employees, visitors and contractors should report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to Occupational Health and to their supervisor. The Occupational Health Department will have a health care professional assess the health status of the individual, and if necessary, will activate tracing of the infected person’s contacts within the Montclair State community.

Students should report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to the University Health Center and their professor or academic advisor. The information should also be reported on the Health Screening Assessment tool so that their symptoms are recorded. Protocols for the Health Screening Assessment tool will then be followed.

Any employee who receives a self-report of COVID-19 should

  1. report it to Occupational Health if the self-reporter is an employee, and
  2. report it to the University Health Center if the self-reporter is a student.

Both students and employees should report symptoms via the Health Screening Assessment tool so that their symptoms are recorded.

Contact Tracing Staffing 

The health care professionals in Occupational Health and University Health Centers will need to quickly identify and contact individuals at risk of infection with COVID-19.

Through contact tracing within the campus community, persons at risk will be offered health care education and resources. To accomplish timely contact tracing, the University will employ students who are in health-related programs. These students will complete the Johns Hopkins contact tracing course and will work under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as needed, or as part of a clinical practicum.

Contact tracers will interview people and ask a series of scripted questions that will identify who they have been in close contact with during the period they may have been infected. All documentation will be reviewed by the healthcare professional supervisor.

Technology to Support Contact Tracing

To support contact tracers and the health care professionals in Occupational Health and the University Health Center who need to quickly identify and contact individuals at risk of infection with COVID-19, the University will make available to them location data collected by the University’s wireless network system. The MSU wireless network automatically collects location data for every employee, student and visitor who has elected to connect a device to the campus wireless network as part of the normal operation of our network infrastructure. This data shows the date, time, location and user id (or email for contractors and visitors) for all persons who were connected to a particular device within the network. It will be extraordinarily helpful for tracing the potential spread of COVID-19 to affected persons.

Dashboards will be delivered to individuals responsible for contact tracing to provide the appropriate data based on symptoms displayed, potential exposures and confirmed positive cases to Occupational Health and University Health Center case managers to determine when campus proximity tracing should begin. Appropriate anonymized data will be given to campus contact tracers to begin contact tracing. The data is intended to assist in refreshing a person’s memory of their movement on campus. This approach will allow rapid communication of the appropriate messages to potentially affected individuals to mitigate the spread of the virus. The use of data from the wireless network for this purpose is permitted by MSU’s Responsible Use of Computing Policy, Section IV. Security and Privacy, which permits the logging of activity and individual monitoring, as necessary to respond to perceived emergency situations as authorized in advance by the President or Vice President for Information Technology, and to disclose such information to other University personnel and outside enforcement agencies as appropriate.

Collaboration with Other Agencies

The University’s campus spans two counties (Essex and Passaic) and three municipalities (Montclair, Little Falls, and Clifton). Montclair State has established lines of communication with public health officials in all of our surrounding communities and will continue to work in close collaboration with our partners in all these jurisdictions, as well as at the State level.

The University has well-developed relationships with both major hospitals nearby: St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair. Areas of cooperation include sharing information and health data, case logging, contact tracing, emergency response, and transport of ill persons.

Last Modified: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:29 am