Frequently Asked Questions
Individuals who test positive for coronavirus should follow their health care provider’s recommendations. UTEP Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) will provide guidance to each individual on when they can return based on recommendations from federal, state and local health agencies. The time will be at least 10 days from the date of the positive coronavirus test, and depending on the presence of symptoms, may extend longer.
Because knowledge about the disease is increasing and circumstances surrounding an exposure vary, it is essential that individuals report their exposure. After reporting exposure, UTEP Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) will contact individuals who may have been exposed so they can learn more and provide guidance for the next steps and what must be done before returning to campus. The time individuals will need to remain away from campus may range between 5 and 14 days, depending on whether the individual gets tested after five days or self-isolates to see if symptoms develop. If there is a positive COVID test, see above FAQ that describes wait time for a positive test.
Because COVID-19, the flu, and the common cold all share some symptoms, it is important that we take steps to reduce the spread of all of them. Thus, people who are experiencing symptoms must stay home until all symptoms resolve. After reporting symptoms, UTEP Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) will provide direction to COVID-19 testing sites in El Paso. If people get tested for coronavirus and this test is negative, they may return to work one day after symptoms end. If the coronavirus test is positive, see above FAQ that describes wait time for a positive test. If people elect to not get tested and self-isolate to see if symptoms develop, they may not return to campus until 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms or 3 days since symptoms have ended, whichever is longer.
Reporting is important for a number of reasons, even for people who are not regularly coming to campus. It helps us assess how prevalent the disease is in our community and take necessary steps to protect everyone. It also allows us to provide appropriate guidance to individuals who report about when they can return to campus (if necessary). Finally, reporting provides a mechanism for making accommodations if needed – students can be excused from on-campus activities and employees can make arrangements to work remotely (if possible) or take sick leave.
The temporary health and safety policy and the coronavirus testing program are designed to work together to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. The purpose of the temporary health and safety policy is to help ensure that individuals who have an identifiable risk factor (COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to person with a positive coronavirus test) do not come to campus until that risk factor can be addressed. The temporary policy also requires hygiene, social distancing and face covering practices which will serve to mitigate some of the risk. The voluntary testing program will help us identify people who do NOT have any known risk factor (i.e., no COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure to a person who tested positive for coronavirus) so they can stay home and not spread the virus to others.
Engaging in self-awareness and reflection about symptoms before coming to campus increases the likelihood that individuals will notice the onset of minor symptoms that might normally be overlooked. Many factors impact when people notice symptoms of illness including individual and situational variables (e.g., distraction). Because coronavirus can only spread when a person who has the virus is near others, vigilance and self-reflection about symptoms is especially important before coming to campus.
Brief questions related to coronavirus, including common symptoms, recent close contact with a known coronavirus case, and testing history are part of the screening. If any concerns are identified, UTEP Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) will advise on subsequent steps.
All guidelines are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other state and local health agencies.
Individuals are required to complete the screening application before coming to campus (screening.utep.edu), and this application asks if you are experiencing a fever (high temperature). Although you are not required to take your own temperature before coming to campus, you are welcome to do so. Because of the variability in work environments across campus, there is not a campuswide policy regarding screening people for high temperatures. But, some offices may require temperature screening, as outlined in their work/safety plans.
If you begin experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19, you should immediately leave campus and inform your supervisor (preferably via email or phone). You should also report your symptoms (screening.utep.edu) to get guidance about getting tested and when you can return to campus.
Start by assuming that the person’s intent is to follow UTEP guidelines and this is a simple oversight. You might catch the individual’s eye and point to your own face covering as a reminder, or politely say something like “I think you forgot to put on your mask.” The vast majority of people will probably acknowledge your request and correct the problem. If the person does not correct the problem, you should seek out a person in authority and let them know. Authority figures can let the individual know that UTEP policy requires face coverings and that they will have to leave if they do not wear one.
Remember that we’ve all had years of experience maintaining an appropriate separation that is much less than 6 feet and that it is difficult to break such well-practiced behaviors. If possible, you might start by trying to step away from the person to maintain appropriate distancing. It is also useful to catch the person’s eye when you do this so they recognize that they were not maintaining appropriate spacing. It is easy not to notice this type of movement and people may close the distance out of habit if they do not recognize that they are not keeping an appropriate separation.
Staff and Faculty
If you feel well enough to work while isolating, you should discuss remote work with your supervisor and identify activities and objectives. If your supervisor approves of your remote work plan, you may continue to work from home while self-isolating and not use sick leave.
When you report through the screening application (screening.utep.edu), your supervisor will be notified that you are not able to come to campus. You will also receive a message letting you know that UTEP Environmental Health and Safety will contact you. If you feel well enough to work, you should contact your supervisor to develop a remote work plan and, with the approval of your supervisor, work remotely. If you do not feel well enough to work, contact the Leave Administration team in Human Resources at HRLeaveAdmin@utep.edu.
Discuss the possibility of continuing to remote work with your supervisor. If you have a health condition and are concerned about returning to work, you may contact the ADA coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss an accommodation. In addition, the Leave Administration team in Human Resources can discuss leave options with you when you contact HRLeaveAdmin@utep.edu.
When you report through the screening application (screening.utep.edu), the Dean of Students’ Office will be notified and when needed, communicate with your instructor. It is very important for you to report a positive test, exposure or symptoms because this will allow you to make any necessary accommodations with your professor. You will need to follow up with your professors about what accommodations are necessary given your situation and how long you may be limited.
If you feel well enough to attend class while isolating, you should discuss remote learning with your professor for the time you will be away from campus. Faculty have been asked to be flexible and supportive of students who are impacted by COVID-related situations and they want to work with students to understand their unique situations. If students need assistance in working with faculty, they are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office at DOS@utep.edu.
As a student employee, both the Dean of Students’ office and your supervisor will be notified that you are unable to come to campus. You should follow up with your professors about what accommodations are necessary given your situation and how long you may be limited. You should also contact your supervisor about your absence; some students may be able to work remotely if they feel well enough to do so, and you can discuss if this is possible.