COVID-19 Testing and Protocols for Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases in Classrooms and/or Office Settings

Sept. 10, 2021

Dear faculty and staff,

As the current COVID-19 pandemic continues, we’d like to update CU Denver faculty and staff teaching in classrooms or working in office settings on how the Contact Tracing Team responds to positive cases of COVID-19.

Due to the changing nature of COVID-19 guidance and the ongoing development of new medical insights, questions regarding COVID-19 exposure and symptoms should be directed to the Contact Tracing Team by emailing the COVID-19 Case Manager. As a reminder, if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, have been exposed to coronavirus, or have received a diagnoses of coronavirus, you must self-report. All faculty, staff and students are to inform the Contact Tracing Team if they receive a positive COVID-19 lab result, regardless of where the test was performed and whether or not they were physically present on campus.  Please visit the campus Self-Reporting Guide for more details about when to self-report.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When a positive case of COVID-19 is reported to the Contact Tracing Team, what process ensues to determine the risk level to others?

When the Contact Tracing Team is informed of a positive case of COVID-19 through the self-reporting form, the COVID-19 Case Manager and her trained team conduct an investigation in accordance with current guidelines established by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

This starts by interviewing the positive individual to determine key dates, including when symptoms began, when positive lab results were received, and specific locations where close contact on campus may have occurred.

2. If a supervisor, faculty, or staff member is informed that a student or co-worker in their department has tested positive for COVID-19, what should they do?

For positive cases that occur in the classroom, the faculty member should tell the student to self-report and isolate immediately. The faculty member should also inform the COVID-19 Case Manager of the positive student’s name and whereabouts so that the class roster and seating charts can be reviewed. Faculty must keep the student’s name and diagnoses confidential, and not share these details with others. 

For positive cases that occur in a campus office, the department supervisor should tell the employee to self-report and isolate immediately. The supervisor should inform the COVID-19 Case Manager of the positive employee’s name and potential whereabouts.  The positive employees name and diagnoses must be kept confidential and is to only be shared with the Contact Tracing Team. 

In both cases, most importantly, contact tracing will occur to determine which individuals have had contact and will need to self-report as exposed.  Please do not send out exposure notifications to the entire class or department, as this will happen by fact and risk-analysis through the Contact Tracing Team.

The Contact Tracing Team is often triaging numerous COVID-19 related investigations; therefore it may take several days to complete an investigation. However, reports of positive test results or symptomatic individuals on campus are prioritized.

Dr. Zorilla from the Health Center at Auraria has offered to attend (virtually or in-person) a classroom or office meeting for further help and guidance. If this is something you are interested in, please reach out to the COVID-19 Case Manager or call the Health Center at Auraria at 303-615-9999.

3. What factors determine if exposure risk is classified as low or high?

  1. Length of time in close contact with a positive individual
  2. Distance from the positive individual
  3. PPE (personal protective equipment) and other safety precautions used
  4. Onset date of symptoms
  5. Vaccination status of those exposed


4. If the guidance in a specific case does not require the supervisor, faculty, staff member, or student to be tested, but the supervisor, faculty, staff, or student want to be tested, what can they do?

CU Denver provides free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty, staff, and members of their households through a partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado. It is advisable to get tested 3 – 5 days after exposure if asymptomatic. Please always self-report if you think you are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If you are not required to test, but are doing so out of an abundance of caution, you DO NOT need to self-report.

The university offers free testing for any reason to students, staff, faculty, and their household members. Click here to sign up for a testing appointment. 

5. What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Individuals who have been exposed but do not have symptoms must quarantine for 14 days from their last known exposure. They may return to work or class on day 15 if they are not experiencing any symptoms. *Currently, CU Denver is not quarantining fully vaccinated exposed individuals (as long as they are not having any symptoms) – but it is still a requirement to self-report.

Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic and have been exposed must isolate for 10 days from the start of their symptoms. They may return to work or class on day 11 if they have been fever-free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) and their other symptoms are either resolved or improving.

CU Denver is currently requiring symptomatic individuals who are not exposed to isolate until they receive a PCR COVID-19 test. If the test comes back negative, they no longer need to isolate once symptoms are resolved. If the test is positive, they must finish their 10-day isolation period. Each isolation case should be individually assessed, since it is possible that additional time away from work or class may be needed, contingent on current symptoms. For example, someone who is still coughing on day 10 should not return to class or work until the cough is under control.

*Please note, protocols change often and the best way to confirm any questions is to contact the COVID-19 Case Manager.  Anyone who thinks they are exposed, experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, or diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-report and wait for further guidance from the Contact Tracing Team.   The Contact Tracing Team will determine if and how long a person needs to quarantine or isolate for. 

6. Does the Contact Tracing Team provide campus clearance letters for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been placed into a quarantine or isolation?

Yes. Once a person self-reports and speaks with the Contact Tracing Team, the case investigators will issue isolation/quarantine guidance and clearance letters to return to campus.

In closing, to protect our campus community, it is imperative that all students, staff, and faculty inform the Contact Tracing Team if they are positive for COVID-19, experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 by self-reporting.  To report an individual who has COVID-19 or any other COVID-19 case-related information, fill out this form.

7. If I’m a faculty member will I learn whether a student in my class is positive?

For in-person classes where the student was on-campus/in-class when they were infectious, yes.  If a student is positive and hasn’t been on class or campus, it depends.  Our contact tracing team will evaluate the report and discuss the situation with the student.   If there is possible exposure or concerns about the report, the contact tracing team will often reach out to the faculty to confirm the facts.




Chris Puckett, Legal Counsel
Lacey Klindt, COVID-19 Case Manager