Temple’s Contact Tracing Unit Increases Efforts to Stop COVID Spread

Temple’s Contact Tracing Unit has added more tracers to the team and more questions to the contact tracing questionnaire as student testing increases on campus this semester.

As more students and staff trickle on to campus for in-person classes this semester, weekly Covid-19 testing becomes an intense requirement for students.

Students can receive testing on campus in Mitten Hall or the Student Center. Temple employee testing is conducted in the Paley building.

Students attending in-person classes or activities this semester have to take a self-service COVID-19 test once or twice a week. The amount of testing a student is required to do depends on how much the individual will be navigating through campus.

Temple has conducted over 89,000 tests since March 28, according to the university’s Covid-19 dashboard.

Positive cases on campus have lower by 25% since the start of the spring semester, according to the dashboard.

Temple Update sat down with contact tracing manager, Kara Reid, on the motives behind the changes and how they differ from last fall semester. She explained how since Temple is pushing for more in-person classes, the containment strategy had to expand the capacity of the contact tracing unit.

“We had to build this contact tracing program up from the ground, when we started we had very few contact tracers, we had to get all the programming to work out correctly, all of these things had to follow through. So it was a lot of scrambling and just trying to get things done,” Reid explained.

Reid said “now in our questionnaire, we’re asking, what you did in your exposure period so that two weeks before you were actually sick. So did you attend any social events or gatherings, where before we were only asking about that infectious period?”

Students that test positive for COVID-19 will receive a phone from one of the tracers with the next steps they must take before returning to campus.

Contact Tracer Katelyn Pashley says “students who tested positive for the virus must give their assigned tracer the names of other Temple students they have been in close contact with that way they will be notified they have been exposed to COVID-19.

” The students who tested positive will be given isolation instructions, and that is typically 10-14 days from the positive test or the symptom onset whichever comes first. The students that we call who are close contacts will be interviewed and they’ll also quarantine for 10-14 days,” says Pashley.

During the isolation period, students are required to report their symptoms to a questionnaire located on the student health portal as well as to their assigned contact tracer.

Kara Reid says students have been compliant with the tracers in terms of prompt responses and obeying isolation periods which makes her proud to be working with Temple to stop the spread.

“I get the general sense, by just communicating with our students that they are proud to give is this information, they want their campus to be something recognized or played a part in stopping the spread. I can say that the students here are doing their part,” said Reid.

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