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Community Tracing

Community tracing refers to a process of immediate response to information received about COVID symptoms, or a positive test in our University community. It will quickly identify and contact students, faculty or staff who may have been exposed to a known positive case of COVID–19 or a symptomatic individual who has been directed to get tested. The goals of community tracing are twofold:

  • Inform the individual of the possible exposure, so that they may care for themselves
  • Provide the individual with information and directions to prevent additional spread, so that they may care for others

Christopher Newport University’s protocol for community tracing is guided by public health standards and CDC guidelines.

Specific members of the University’s staff have been trained and are authorized to conduct all community tracing for students, faculty and staff. They are committed to confidentiality and only share the information they gather as necessary to limit the spread, and protect the health of our community. University community tracers do not request specific symptoms or medical information from university students, faculty, or staff.

Community tracing shall begin immediately upon receipt of a report from an individual who has tested positive for COVID–19 or developed symptoms. In most cases this will be before the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)-Peninsula Health District initiates Contact Tracing (see below).

Christopher Newport will share all reports of positive cases with the VDH-Peninsula Health District. Christopher Newport will also share information gathered as a result of its community tracing efforts with the VDH-Peninsula Health District.

Community tracing is intended to identify members of the university community who may have been exposed. If a university community member has not been contacted by one of the University’s designated community tracers, then the University has not received information indicating that the community member has been exposed.

How Community Tracing is Different than Contact Tracing

Contact tracing — to be distinguished from Christopher Newport’s community tracing — is a tracing process undertaken by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) when it receives confirmation of a positive test result from a health care provider or laboratory. Because it is triggered by receiving notice of a positive test from the provider or laboratory that conducted the test, this process is likely to begin after Christopher Newport’s Community Tracing.

Contact tracing requests specific symptomatic and pre-existing medical information from individuals who have tested positive. It also seeks to identify all possible exposures to the individual who has tested positive, and is not limited to the Christopher Newport community.

Only VDH conducts contact tracing, and will do so for all confirmed positive cases that occur among CNU students, faculty and staff, with support from Christopher Newport.

How Community Tracing Works

All students, faculty and staff are required to complete a brief symptom screener each day. Those reporting symptoms are directed to stay home or in their residence hall room and contact their health care provider (faculty and staff) or access the telehealth system through University Health and Wellness Services (students). The University will contact these individuals to provide additional information, guidance and assistance.

If a member of the campus community is instructed by a health care provider to get tested, they will be required to isolate until they receive test results. Students must notify the Office of Student Affairs at or (757) 594–7160. Employees must notify Human Resources at or (757) 594–7145 and their department chair and dean or supervisor.

Positive cases will be required to isolate until:

  • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and
  • at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and
  • other symptoms are improving. (The loss of taste or smell might persist for weeks or months after recovery and this should not delay the end of isolation.)

This information must be provided to the University and confirmed through Human Resources (faculty and staff) or the Office of Student Affairs (students). Those in isolation awaiting test results may be granted permission to leave isolation if that test is negative and the results are provided to and reviewed by the University. Documentation must be provided to the University in order to be cleared to return to campus.

When a student, faculty or staff member reports that they have been directed to get a test by a health care provider or they have tested positive, a university community tracer will follow up with that individual to help identify any members of the CNU community they came in contact with who may be at risk of exposure to the virus.

Once contacts have been identified, the university community tracer will reach out to them, provide information about the possible exposure, and direct necessary actions to prevent spread of the virus.

In most cases, contacts of positive cases will be instructed to quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure to the positive case, and must continue to complete the daily symptom screener provided by the university.

  • If the contact develops symptoms during those 14 days, he/she will be directed by university staff to contact a health care provider.
  • If the contact does not become symptomatic during those 14 days, he/she may return to campus life. To assist in the reentry process, the return should be coordinated with appropriate university staff.

All members of the Christopher Newport community are required to cooperate in tracing efforts and must provide complete and honest information to a university community tracer regarding recent faculty, staff and student contacts.

Similarly, when a positive case is reported to VDH by a health care provider or laboratory, a contact tracer from VDH-Peninsula Health District will contact the individual and provide instructions for isolation and initiate their contact tracing protocols. Students, faculty and staff are required to provide honest and complete cooperation with VDH contact tracers.

Students, faculty and staff must follow directions for quarantine and isolation when instructed to do so by a University official or a VDH contact tracer.

Supervisors and academic department chairs and deans will be notified if a staff or faculty member has been directed to quarantine or isolate.

Faculty members will be notified by staff within Student Affairs if a student in one of their classes is directed to quarantine or isolate. In-person classes must be livestreamed for the affected student when available. Class rosters in CNU Live also will indicate approval for live streaming. This designation will be removed at the end of the student’s isolation or quarantine period.

Notifications of Exposure to Individuals and the Campus Community

When the University is aware of a positive case of the virus, individual faculty, staff and students who have been exposed will be notified by a university community tracer within 24 hours.

Neither the community at large nor others who were not exposed to the individual who has tested positive will be notified of a positive test result that occurs among students, faculty and staff.

A dashboard identifying the total number of currently active cases of COVID–19 among students, faculty and staff, is available on the University’s website.

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