Contact Tracing

Effectively limiting spread from any potential COVID-19 cases requires aggressive contact tracing following a reported positive SARS-CoV-2 test or COVID-19 diagnosis. Initial determinations of where SARS-CoV-2 positive have been on campus are used by the COVID-19 Response Team to quickly activate disinfection and closure procedures. To effectively identify people who may have been in contact with the SARS-CoV-2 positive person, both a manual tracing (interview) and digital tracing solution is strongly recommended. The University of Denver will engage an app-based digital contact tracing solution, which will allow tracking of contacts using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, badging, and WiFi technology. Top considerations in this decision are our community’s security and privacy. The final decision regarding a contact tracing vendor and details on the solution and its security will be shared by July 31.

Manual Tracing

Manual Contact tracing has been conducted at DU since the first positive case on March 13, 2020. Because there were fewer than 20 positive cases on campus since March, manual tracing has been sufficient to address campus needs. Our first priority when an individual in our community falls ill is to support them in seeking medical attention and communicate our concern for their well-being. We also review with them the need to self-isolate and remain off-campus (or, for campus residents, in on-campus isolation).

In each instance, interviews and follow-up conversations determine when and where the person who had tested positive or was presumed positive for SARS-CoV-2 had been on campus, with whom they might have come into contact, and whether that contact included physical proximity of within six feet for at least 10 minutes and whether the parties were wearing face coverings. Individuals who may have been in contact with the person are then called to discuss the possible contact and to provide them with information regarding the need to self-isolate and stay off campus. This high-touch manual tracing effort has occurred successfully at DU for our small number of cases, via designated University staff.

As we increase the number of people with access to campus, additional manual contract tracers will be hired and trained, following guidance of our health partner and under the supervision of our deputized reporter for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, Chris Short. As needed for each case, additional individualized support will be provided by the Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence (SAIE) team, the Health and Counseling Center (HCC), the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and/or Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC), as appropriate.

Digital Tracing

Keeping the DU community safe and limiting spread from any potential cases requires fast and accurate contact tracing. Best practices for businesses, including university campuses, involve digital contact tracing. This can involve sensors and wearables, be app-based, or work from other existing technologies (scheduling software, Wi-Fi, badging).

The DU campus has more than 90 buildings, 125 acres, and 17,000 people at full capacity. To effectively reduce the chance of an outbreak, we will engage a digital tracing vendor. Users will be asked to install an application on their mobile device. This tracking, alongside Wi-Fi and badge access will be used to quickly identify who a person has been in contact with should they test positive or be presumed positive for the virus causing COVID-19.

We recognize the strong concerns of our community regarding data security and privacy and have intentionally focused on choosing a vendor that prioritizes these concerns. Data is stored securely and only temporarily, and location information is only accessed when someone is confirmed or expected positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Individuals have control over whether the app runs in the background or foreground, have a user interface, and can disable the tracking, though this is not recommended. (For more information on privacy and information security, please see H. Privacy & Data Security.)