Are universities tracking students’ exposure over the holidays?

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC
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It can be hard to not have your college-age kids around for the holidays. It’s a time when the whole family comes together, but how can your family be whole when some members are missing?

Unfortunately, this year, it’s not as simple for your kids to come home by just hopping on a Greyhound. Not only does traveling greatly increase the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, but colleges are implementing strict rules about isolation and testing as well.

For the most part, your kid’s school won’t know what they did over break, but they will be testing your child for COVID-19 upon their return.

CDC Recommendations

The holidays are a difficult time for everyone this year. We all want to spend time with our families, but we also want to do our part to help limit the spread of the virus.

The Center for Disease Control recommends celebrating the holidays with just the people in your household– whether that be a nuclear family or a couple of college roommates.

Hosting or attending large gatherings, especially if you are traveling out of town to do so, can increase your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

If you do choose to celebrate the holidays with your family out of town, many cities have quarantine requirements for when you get back. For example, you might be required to isolate for 10 days after your return. Many universities have similar requirements.

In addition, some local governments are participating in contact tracing programs. Under these programs, people who have tested positive are asked to provide the local Health Department with a list of all the people they’ve come into contact with over the last few weeks. Then, the Department officials will reach out to the people on that list and warn them that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Contact tracing can be useful in helping to stop the spread of the virus. But it can also potentially present legal troubles. It’s useful to know when someone is keeping track of your actions, even if their intention is to help you.

Are D.C. Universities Tracking COVID-19 Infections?

Most schools aren’t conducting contact tracing programs, although some are. However, almost all universities have adopted at least some policies to help make sure there is no one with an active COVID-19 infection on their campus.

Here are a few examples:

  • George Washington University doesn’t have a university contract tracing program, but it does have a rigorous policy involving weekly testing, and required isolation and symptoms monitoring for anyone who tests positive. 
  • Georgetown University has similar policies regarding regular testing and required isolation for anyone who contracts the virus. However, they are also using an app developed with One Medical to keep track of students’ symptoms and collaborate with the DC government’s contract-tracing program.
  • Howard University is similarly keeping track of students’ health through the University’s Bison Safe app.
  • American University, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be making use of an app or contact tracing, although it does offer regular testing for students.

These schools won’t be able to keep track of your kid’s whereabouts or their COVID-19 status while they’re away for the holidays. However, most of them will continue any type of precautions they’ve already implemented upon your child’s return to campus.

Failing to follow a school’s COVID-19 guidelines can land your child in academic or legal trouble. For that reason, it’s important to do some research into the full extent of your university’s contract tracing program and get in touch with a student defense attorney if need be.

Hire a Student Defense Attorney Today

We are living through a difficult time, between the pandemic and the sacrifices we may have to make around the holidays this year. DC Student Defense can help you make sure that university discipline doesn’t get added to your child’s plate.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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