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COVID-19 Update: Testing and Quarantine Protocols for faculty and staff

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Jeremy Haefner

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En español.

Dear DU faculty and staff,

On July 15, I shared A Community of Care: An Action Plan for DU’s Return to Campus. Since then, we have consulted with our health care partner, National Jewish Health (NJH) on developing detailed protocols on symptom monitoring, testing, quarantine and personal responsibility logistics. I write to share our protocols specific to faculty and staff. The quarantine and testing protocols we developed for students align with the ones for faculty and staff but are tailored to undergraduate and graduate students’ specific circumstances, including those living on- and off-campus. You can view those protocols and the message we shared with students and their families here.

Substantial evidence shows that the more we do upfront, the more we can contain the virus. And the more we contain the virus, the more we can have an optimal on-campus experience and deliver the kind of world-class education our students and community have come to expect while keeping everyone in our community safe.

So, we must all do our part. Social distancing, facial coverings, frequent handwashing, testing and, ultimately, contact tracing, are the foundation for preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Cultivating a culture of personal responsibility determines our ability to continue working, learning, and living on campus. Students who are believed to not follow the policies may be referred to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities. If found responsible for violating these policies, Outcomes will be assigned which could include temporary or permanent removal from the University. Faculty and staff will be subject to appropriate consequences as well. Looking out for ourselves, and for one another, is the DU way.

For faculty and staff, there are several steps you need to take before the beginning of the fall term. Details about each are outlined below.

  • Coordinate your return date with your supervisor, if applicable
  • Complete Trail Back to Campus Canvas course
  • Provide a negative test result for the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Take precautions while traveling
  • Minimize contact
  • Monitor symptoms

Coordinate Return Date

To aid our quarantine, isolation and testing protocols, all faculty and staff not already working on campus must identify their fall campus return date in pioneerweb.

Take Trail Back to Campus Canvas course

To ensure we are all well-informed, the entire DU community—faculty, staff, and students—must complete the Trail Back to Campus course in Canvas before returning to campus. (No later than Aug 14 for faculty and staff in the law school and Sept. 10 for the rest of campus.)

More information about this course will be shared with the Sturm College of Law community this week and with the rest of our community by August 14. Please note: A separate communication is planned for the Ricks and Fisher communities since their protocols will be uniquely designed for young students, teachers, staff and families.

Provide a Negative Test Result for the Virus that Causes COVID-19

Testing will give us valuable data, and we will use that data to make decisions on what is best for our community. The pandemic is incredibly dynamic, requiring all of us to be agile and willing to change our plans abruptly and efficiently. If the situation on campus changes, or if local or state regulations change, we will reassess and adjust processes—always keeping health and safety as our top priorities. 

Pre-arrival test

All faculty and staff must take a nasal RT-PCR test for the virus that causes COVID-19. Staff and faculty already on campus will be among the first tested, and this will happen on a staggered basis. More details will be shared directly with those individuals within the next week.

Fourteen days prior to your return date:

  • If you will be in Denver, you may provide a validated negative molecular test result for the virus that causes COVID-19 from a location of your choosing, as long as it is collected within the 14 days prior to your fall term arrival date. If you prefer, you can be assigned a testing date and time via DU to take the test in Denver, administered by a trained medical professional. Please be aware that until you show proof of a negative test result, you will not be allowed to return to campus. Test results are expected back within 48 hours if taken at DU. Testing on campus is free to students, faculty and staff.
  • If you will be outside the Denver metro area, we encourage you to complete a test at a testing location in your area and provide the verified results to us. Here is a link to locations where testing is available.

If you test positive

We strongly encourage you to immediately contact a healthcare provider and require you to delay your arrival on campus until:

  • Ten days have passed since your first symptoms; and
  • You are fever-free for 24 hours (without medication); and
  • Symptoms have improved;
  • Or, if asymptomatic, 10 days have passed since your positive test result and you have not developed symptoms consistent with a COVID infection.

If you test negative

Upon submitting proof of the negative test, you may return to campus on your selected return date as planned.  

If you have been exposed

Any exposure to someone known or presumed to have COVID-19 will trigger the same requirements as a positive test and you must then quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus.

Regular testing

We will re-test individuals who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their living arrangements, work requirements or co-occurring medical conditions within seven days after their arrival on campus. Additionally, we will conduct random surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff each week, again, at no charge to the individuals.

If you test positive during the surveillance testing—or at any time—you will be required to isolate, remain off campus, and follow the same protocols as outlined above before returning.

Participation in surveillance testing is highly encouraged, as it is one of the only ways to assess changes in the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and to prevent outbreaks. As we test and contact trace, I want to emphasize our emphatic commitment to privacy and information security. We are dedicated to protecting our community while also protecting personal information. Further information about contact tracing protocols will be provided in the coming weeks. A working group has been established specifically to address how we can best maintain data protection and privacy.                                              

Take Travel Precautions

If you are traveling from outside Denver to return to your work on campus, you are expected to take precautions, including wearing a face covering at all times, practicing excellent hand hygiene, avoiding face touching and, wherever possible, maintaining a six-foot distance from others. 

Through the end of the fall term, all community members are expected to continue to follow our existing travel restrictions—specifically the restrictions against international travel or to any location considered a “hotspot.”

If you must travel to these locations, you will need to remain off campus and conduct a 14-day quarantine at home before returning to campus.

Minimize Contact

We are requiring our students to quarantine for 14 days prior to their arrival. The behavior of faculty and staff already on campus, and those who will return to on-campus work in the fall, is expected to align with what we are strongly recommending for our students: Adhere to social distancing and facial covering protocols, wash hands frequently, and do not engage in large group activities or settings on or off campus.

Monitor Symptoms

For those already working on campus, symptom monitoring has become routine. We will continue this practice going forward. For those returning to campus for the first time, we ask that you monitor your symptoms for two weeks prior and then continue to do so once you arrive.

To accomplish this monitoring, everyone in the DU community is expected to download an app (on a phone, computer, or tablet) that will support daily symptom monitoring and allow us to quickly contact trace should someone in our community test positive for COVID-19. We will share more details about this contact tracing app soon, including, importantly, its security features.

Upcoming Virtual Town Halls

This is a lot of information. And I expect there will be many important questions from our community. I encourage you to attend one of the virtual town hall meetings to hear from our experts, ask questions, or provide feedback. Invites will arrive by email soon, including the relevant Zoom links. You can also find additional details about these plans in our FAQ on the COVID-19 website.

For faculty and staff
Friday, July 31st from 2-3 p.m. MDT

For Sturm law students
Tuesday, July 28th from 4-5 p.m. MDT

For graduate students
Tuesday, July 28th from 5:30-6:30 p.m. MDT

For undergraduate students and their families
Thursday, July 30th 5:00-6:30 p.m. MDT


This moment is particularly challenging precisely because the future is so unknown. For now, please be assured that the science supports our quarantine and testing protocols. Collecting data on test results before students, faculty and staff arrive on campus will provide an idea of how many people have the virus that causes COVID-19, allow those who test positive to recover at home, and allow for evidence-based decision-making. 

Lastly, thanks again to the many people across campus working so hard on our plan and in partnership with NJH. Your efforts are instrumental. The willingness of so many to take on this work in addition to the regular demands on their time and attention speaks to the excellence of this community and the love and pride so many feel for DU. Thanks as well to the faculty, students, staff and family members who have shared with us their feedback on the action plan so far.


Jeremy Haefner