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Self-Reporting and Contact Tracing: WSU Perspective

COVID-19 sign on Student Union door

COVID-19 Sign on Campus | Photo by Caitlin Shatsby | The Wright State Guardian

Late and a lack of self-reports for COVID-19 cases on campus could make contact tracing within Wright State University (WSU) more difficult. 

What contact tracing is and why it is important

Contact tracing is used when someone tests positive for COVID to inform those they may have encountered that they were exposed to the virus.

“Contact tracing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of disease in our community,” Dr. Marietta Orlowski, the Dept. Chair of Population and Public Health Sciences (DPPHS), said. 

Orlowski also said that contact tracing helps quarantine people who are not yet showing symptoms but are actively spreading the disease. 

“Quarantining breaks the chain of infection,” Orlowski said. 

Contact tracing is important in the WSU community, according to Orlowski, because students interact with others in student housing, classes, event and jobs. 

“If someone has been exposed to COVID-19, isolating themselves from others keeps other people healthy,” Orlowski said. “Masking is also an important step to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”

Contact tracing at WSU

Students and faculty who test positive for COVID can submit a self-report to the university. WSU’s COVID-19 Dashboard asks students to submit a self-report form as soon as possible for contact tracing to be done.

Dr. Marjorie Markopoulos, the Director of the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS), said that getting this self-report as quickly as possible is important for contact tracing to be the most effective.

“Making that initial report as soon as possible is important so that we can actually be effective at doing a follow-up as quickly as we can,” Markopoulos said. 

One problem that can come up with EHS’s contact tracing is when students either do not self-report or they self-report late.

“A lot of times if people are sick, they’re not thinking about filling out that form right away,” Markopoulos said. “If there was a better way to get that initial recording quickly that would probably be the one thing to improve on.”

EHS does not have a specific window of exposure where they will notify a student with a positive case’s other peers. It depends on when the self-report is submitted and when they were on campus according to Markopoulos.

There have been over 100 cases since the 2021-2022 school year began according to WSU’s COVID-19 Dashboard.