Supervisors: Follow this step-by-step guide if an employee tests positive

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rep supervisor healthcheck 550pxUpdating Healthcheck is the first step to communicate COVID-19 symptoms.With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb in Alabama, more supervisors are being notified that one of their team members has had a positive diagnosis.

What should they do next? UAB has developed general procedures to support supervisors as they take action to provide a safe work and academic environment. The full protocol is available on the Human Resources site along with a number of other re-entry guides and forms. “As more employees begin to transition back to campus, we have heard from several departments that a general procedure for and guidance on communicating positive diagnoses would be helpful,” said Alesia Jones, UAB chief human resource officer. “Our goal is to provide direction on how to handle these situations.”

 

Step 1: Update Healthcheck

Employees who exhibit symptoms should report this through UAB Healthcheck as soon as possible. They also should fill out the Employee COVID Exposure and Symptom form.

If the employee has received a positive diagnosis through a COVID-19 test taken outside UAB, reporting through the Employee COVID Exposure and Symptom form will alert Employee Health to contact the employee and explain their care, work restrictions and steps to take once their quarantine date has passed. (Employees with a positive diagnosis will be monitored daily by Employee Health nurses through phone calls until they are discharged from Employee Health surveillance and can return to work. Learn more about how Employee Health handles positive and negative diagnoses in this document.)

If the employee is on campus or onsite at a work location, they should go home immediately. They may not return to campus until they have been released to do so by Employee Health.


If an employee develops COVID-19 symptoms at work

If an employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 at work they should:

  • go home immediately and
  • report these symptoms through UAB Healthcheck.

Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat and others listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here. Employee Health will contact the employee once symptoms have been reported through Healthcheck and determine if testing or other steps are necessary.

Unless an employee has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, do not alert close contacts or the department/unit and do not contact Building Services to discuss enhanced cleaning.

 

Step 2: Notify close contacts of the possible exposure in person or by phone

If a supervisor receives notice of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis (from the employee or from Employee Health), the supervisor should notify close contacts in the work area of possible exposure.

For academic departments, communication should come from the chair’s office, who should communicate with other units that may share the space.

A close contact is someone who has been within six feet of the diagnosed employee for greater than 15 minutes without either party wearing a mask. (As a reminder, supervisors are responsible for consistently enforcing health and safety requirements for working onsite, including wearing masks and social distancing.)

Notification of close contacts should be done in person or by phone. Do not put the name of the employee in an email or other communication. The identity, circumstances and condition of the diagnosed employee cannot be disclosed to the close contacts. Even if the employee has self-disclosed to others, supervisors should not confirm or discuss the identity of that employee.

 

Step 3: General notification to department/unit about a diagnosed employee

Supervisors may make a general announcement to their department or unit that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, but no names or details should be given. Even if the employee has self-disclosed to others, supervisors should not confirm or discuss the identity of that employee. Supervisors can inform their department or unit that close contacts of the diagnosed employee have already been told and that if they were not individually contacted, then they are not considered close contacts.

Sample messaging is included in the COVID Response Protocol document online.

 

Step 4: Contact Building Services

Send an email to GRP-covid19resp@uab365.onmicrosoft.com to notify Building Services that an onsite employee has been diagnosed with COVID–19. In some instances, enhanced cleaning of affected workspaces and communal areas may be necessary. For academic departments, the chair’s office should do this.

The relevant unit/school or executive administrator can consult with Occupational Medicine at occmed@uab.edu to determine whether enhanced cleaning is necessary.

Facilities has already implemented extra cleaning and disinfection protocols across campus, including use of disinfectant mist machines, with highest priority given to workspaces and classrooms. (Learn more about these protocols here.)

If enhanced cleaning is deemed necessary and occurs, communicate back to notified employees that the area has received this cleaning. Specialist areas such as laboratories will not be cleaned unless requested.


What about students?

The same protocol and guidelines for employees apply to supervisors who work with students. A student with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis should report this through UAB Healthcheck. Student Health staff, rather than Employee Health staff, will work with the student. Otherwise, the process of notifying close contacts of the student (when they have been working closely with employees in a UAB department or unit) should proceed as described in the main article.