Don’t worry about what to do when your student tests positive – because UO won’t even tell you that they have

I’m going to guess that an over-zealous interpretation of HIPAA by our anti-transparency General Counsel Kevin Reed is behind this latest UO policy:

For reasons of privacy and protected health information, instructors will NOT be notified by Corona Corps when a student in their class has tested positive or has been identified as a close contact.

Here’s the full text of the latest email:

Dear colleagues,  

As we begin the third week of classes, thank you for a largely successful return to campus and start of fall classes. Your help in implementing our layered safety approach of vaccinations, masking and testing/contact tracing has helped us stay on track and we appreciate your efforts. It is important that we stay vigilant with our strategies, so we wanted to communicate a few reminders. We’ve had a few questions about how to handle cases or contacts in classes. Please review the COVID Containment Plan for Classes. In particular: 

  • Instructors should remind students to introduce themselves to their classroom neighbors at the start of each class as this greatly facilitates contact tracing, should it be needed in specific classes. 
  • Instructors should submit the Case and Contact Form (here) if a student informs them that they have tested positive for COVID-19, have been identified as a close contact, or if a student is symptomatic. This form helps to initiate the Corona Corps’ outreach to specific students.
  • Instructors should NOT notify their entire classroom if they learn of a positive case or close contact in their class. Following a case investigation by the Corona Corps, all identified close contacts in a classroom will be notified, including instructors. If the determination is made that an all-class exposure notification is warranted, instructors will also be informed as part of this notification.
  • For reasons of privacy and protected health information, instructors will NOT be notified by Corona Corps when a student in their class has tested positive or has been identified as a close contact. However, students are encouraged to notify their instructors of their health status following a positive COVID-19 test or when notified that they have been identified as a close contact.
  • Vaccinated, asymptomatic students who have been identified as close contacts can continue to attend class. However, these students should be reminded to self-monitor daily and to be tested 3-5 days after exposure. 

In addition, please: 

  • make students aware of how they can access course content and make up missed assignments, 
  • remember to stay six feet away from others if you elect to teach without a mask. 

Janet Woodruff-BordenExecutive Vice Provost

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15 Responses to Don’t worry about what to do when your student tests positive – because UO won’t even tell you that they have

  1. Dog says:

    yes this is quite a stupid policy when compared to what happens in the real world. I told my class the first day, and reminded them with an email (I probably was not supposed to do this) that students should simply email me with their concerns, or close contact concerns, or whether they have covid, etc.

    So far all have complied and the information has allowed me to
    conduct classes and use various techniques with more confidence now that I have this information, which the UO chooses to suppress.

  2. uomatters says:

    First hit on

    UCF: Yes. For faculty who are teaching a face-to-face course, you will be notified if a student will be unable to attend class due to COVID. UCF’s public health professionals also determine whether other steps are needed in your class. For example, if contact tracers see a pattern of positive tests in your class, they may determine that the class needs to meet remotely for a time. Faculty may not move to remote teaching on their own, based on reports of illness.

    From a quick look it seems that only about 1/2 of schools have adopted our GC’s anti-knowledge approach.

  3. uomatters says:

    UW: EH&S will notify instructors directly if a student in their in-person class has a suspected or confirmed case, and provide them with a notification to send to all other students who attended the class. The notification includes information about the date of the potential exposure, as well as guidance on how to watch for symptoms and quarantine, if necessary.

  4. uomatters says:

    Stanford is required by state law to inform employees, including postdoctoral scholars and students with university jobs, of a positive case in a building where they work. Under the law, this notification is required within 1 business day after the university learns of the possible exposure. The notice provides details on quarantine pay, sick time, disability and workers’ compensation benefits. Students who have been in instructional spaces where a positive case has been identified will also be notified.

    • Environmental Necessity says:

      Oregon legislature: Pass a law yesterday requiring notification and then we enter the courts to test the GC’s view of what is permissible. Make state funding contingent on notification policies. Risk-taking and legally-cavalier institutions such as Stanford can submit amicus briefs.

      Whether it is FERPA or HIPPA, the UO seems to use existing legislation to cover itself in secrecy in ways many, many other institutions do not. It is a choice.

      What these many examples from across the country prove is that the GC’s view (or whomever it is driving this “thou shall not know even though it directly implicates your health and your family’s health) is not an inescapable requirement but a choice, a choice to prefer secrecy and opacity when transparency is what public health considerations warrant.

  5. Craig O'ThePlague says:

    And now everyone can eat in in-person meetings and in the library. This will go well.

    • New Year Cat says:

      Because aerosols only travel 6 inches…. I spend on-campus time in the library, and now plan to spend far far less time there now that this asinine, science-denying rule is in effect. As if anyone takes their mask down, sips juice, masks up. The masks go down and stay down for a 20 minute chat, from what I see all around town. Notice how when the state originally said we could all go unmasked when vaxed that worked well? Guessing this will be equally helpful.

  6. moss defender says:

    The Corona Corps ? Great branding UO, sounds like a buncha pros

    • uomatters says:

      A bunch of good undergrads, doing the best they can for minimum wage. Their rules come from GC Kevin Reed, who is not willing to enforce the same rules as say UW, and is paid quite a bit more than the minimum to not do so.

  7. Leporello says:

    Did you Contact the Corona Care Team?

    (Wish I was making this up)

  8. Canard says:

    So has anyone been contacted by the Corona Corps, alerting them that one of their students has tested positive? I now know of a few cases where students have contacted their instructors directly, but no one else in those classes has ever been contacted by CC. Is Corona Corps where information goes to die?

    • Dog says:

      I have had few students tell me, (I think they were all presumptive
      cases however) but have never received any “official” communication from the UO on this matter.

    • moss defender says:

      If someone at UO makes up fake overinflated numbers as they report cases can someone corrupt at UO reporting fake numbers get much more money based on those fabricated cases ? Perhaps avoiding notifying those who supposedly test positive enables more quietly ongoing overstating of UO case numbers to continue to get more money ? Just wondering

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