Health & Safety FAQs

Jump to: Screening | Testing | Quarantine, Isolation & Return to Work | Contact Tracing | VACCINATion

Masking Requirements

What are the rules for wearing masks on campus?

All Sewanee employees, students, residents, and visitors are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in public or inside buildings other than private residences, with five exceptions: 

  • When they are alone, 
  • When they are eating or drinking, 
  • When they are maintaining a social distance of six feet or more from any other person,
  • If they have a documented medical condition that precludes their wearing a face covering, or
  • When they are communicating with the hearing impaired and during which the mouth needs to be visible. 

Certain events or facilities may have additional masking rules. You should always have a mask with you—and when in doubt, wear your mask. The cloth face coverings recommended here are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Cloth face coverings are not personal protective equipment (PPE). They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.

Will the University supply masks?

Yes. Employees may be provided with masks if they are unable to obtain their own.

What about face shields as an alternative to face masks?

Face shields may not be substituted for masks or cloth face coverings. Shields protect the eyes of the wearer from external spray, but do not effectively cover the nose and mouth. Face masks mainly protect others from the wearer, who might unknowingly be infected. The greater concern now is the virus being carried in the air from someone's mouth and nose, so a cloth face covering—if we all participate—will significantly decrease the spread of the virus. Anyone who chooses to wear a face shield must still wear a face covering or mask.


Is there a screening process in place for those reporting to work on campus?

Yes. All employees returning to campus for any work are expected to answer several screening questions and consent to a temperature screening each day prior to entering their work site.

How does the screening process work?

Prior to the start of each in-person shift, supervisors or a designee must confirm from the employee that the employee has answered "NO" to the following COVID-19 health related questions:

  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
  • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? "Fever" means a temperature 100.4°F or higher, taken at a time when the employee has not taken fever-reducing medication for at least 12 hours.
  • Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?Have you been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a medical professional or a local public health official?

If you are can answer "NO" to these questions, you will have your temperature taken by your supervisor or designee with a no-touch thermometer.

If I answer "YES" to any of the questions, what should I do? 

You should remain or go home and seek advice from a health care provider. At minimum, you must be able to answer "NO" to the above questions prior to returning to on–campus work. 

Are the results of the screening process confidential? 

Yes. Results of the screening process are confidential; however, Human Resources and Risk Management must be notified by the supervisor or designee if you cannot work due to the results of the screening process. Documentation is limited to notifying HR and Risk Management that the individual "failed" the screening process. 



Will I be tested? If so, when?

Yes. All employees must be tested; however, frequency of testing will be based on the functions of your position, amount of interaction within the campus community, contact with a potential positive case, etc. You will be notified of any scheduled testing time by Public Health via your Sewanee email. Your supervisor will also be made aware of your scheduled testing time and it is likely that they will communicate it to you as well. 

Where will testing take place?

Testing will take place at our on-campus testing site within the Fowler Center. 

What kind of test will be used? 

Sewanee utilizes a self-administered anterior nasal swab test. The test is a nucleic acid assay, the most accurate form of testing. Results are available within 48 hours. 

What happens after I'm tested?

Upon completion of your test, you'll either return home (if working remotely) or you'll return to your work site and continue to follow all health and safety guidelines. You will only be contacted if your test results in a positive. Negatives will not be communicated; however, if you'd like to know the status of your test, please contact HR. 

What if my test is positive?

Employees who receive a positive test result for COVID-19 will have those results communicated to them by the University's Public Health Officer and will be contacted by University contact tracers shortly thereafter. Employees with positive test results will be required to isolate and will not be able to return to campus until released by a health care provider. Employees should consult current HR policies to determine applicable leave. 

Will I be tested repeatedly?

Yes. The University plans to conduct periodic (surveillance) testing throughout the semester, using the same type of test. You may be subject to more frequent testing if you are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive. 

How will the University decide if someone is at higher risk of exposure?

Employees will be required to complete a risk assessment survey to establish exposure screening frequency. The factors that the University will assess in determining a person's risk of exposure include:

  • Personal protective behaviors, including social distancing, masking, personal travel, dining out, attending events/parties/bars
  • Commuters who live in nearby cities and commute to campus
  • Individuals or individuals with partners who travel as part of their job requirements
  • Parent(s) with school-aged children or children in childcare settings
  • Individuals who work in healthcareIndividuals who interact directly with the publicIndividuals who work in food preparations
  • Individuals who work or are involved in community work outside of campus

Quarantine, Isolation, and Return to Work

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Isolation is used to separate someone with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (both those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.

Under what conditions might I need to quarantine?

You will be requested to quarantine if you have come into close contact with someone who has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Although various agencies define “close contact” differently, the University currently defines it as follows:

  • Individuals who are known to have been in contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or longer with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • Individuals who have participated in activities with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and who had close contact (within 6 feet for over 15 minutes). 
  • Individuals who reside with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

The amount of time spent in quarantine will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, all quarantined individuals will need to test negative for COVID-19 and remain symptom-free for several days before returning to their usual campus activities.

How long does quarantine or isolation last?

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked to be in isolation for a designated amount of time, depending on when your symptoms began. If you have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine for up to 14 days from the time of your last exposure. If you are sick and awaiting test results, you may be asked to quarantine until the results are received.

If I've tested positive for COVID-19, when can I return to work?

You may return to work after being released from isolation or quarantine by the University's Office of Public Health, which will use the following guidelines in determining an appropriate return to work date. 

  • For employees who have symptoms, the symptom-based strategy will be used. Exclusion from work will occur until:
    • At least 24 hours have passed since recovery. Recovery is when fever resolves without the use of fever-reducing medications and respiratory symptoms (like cough or shortness of breath) have improved, and
    • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • For employees who do not have symptoms, the time-based strategy will be used. Exclusion from work will occur until:
    • 10 days have passed since the date of the their positive COVID-19 test if they have not developed symptoms.
    • If they develop symptoms, then the symptom-based strategy outlined above will be used in determining a return to work date. 
Will I be required to test negative for COVID-19 in order to return to work?

No; people with COVID-19 may have positive test results for weeks after they recover but are not contagious after they meet the symptom criteria above. The Office of Public Health, in accordance with the latest recommendations from the CDC, will provide a date on which you may safely return to work.

Will I be required to provide a clearance letter from a healthcare provider or from the Department of Health in order to return to work?

No; you do not need a clearance letter from either a healthcare provider or from the Department of Health before returning to work. The Office of Public Health, in accordance with the latest recommendations from the CDC, will provide a date on which you may safely return to work.  

Contact Tracing and Notification

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing traces and monitors the close contacts of infected people, and notifies those contacts of their exposure.  

How will contact tracing happen at the University?

The University must notify the Tennessee Health Department when anyone tests positive. The Health Department is responsible for contact tracing. To support the Health Department’s efforts, employees must be responsible for knowing and tracking their encounters each day with others (write them down and record the date). When an employee receives a positive diagnosis, they must review the list of contacts during the two days prior to experiencing symptoms and notify those individuals that they have been exposed. If an employee is too sick to contact others, the University’s tracers will offer support. The University will ask for this list of names to verify that contact has been made with each close contact who resides in the Sewanee community—students, employees, or community members on the Domain.

When reviewing my contacts, to whom might the term "individuals that may have been exposed" apply?

Generally, exposures include:

  • Anyone who was in close contact with you, meaning was less than 6 feet away from you, for longer than 15 minutes without a face covering.
  • Anyone in direct contact with secretions from a person with COVID-19 (e.g. being sneezed or coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)
  • Anyone who traveled with you in a vehicle unmasked.
  • Anyone who lives in your residence and shares a common room, a shared restroom, or a shared kitchen on your floor.
Who will contact me if I've been exposed?

The University will partner with the local health department. In case of exposure to someone with COVID-19, you may be notified by the Tennessee Department of Health, a campus contact tracer, and/or the University Office of Public Health. You might speak with a combination of these departments in the interest of timeliness and depending on your need for campus services.

What happens next?

You will be asked to quarantine and work remotely, if possible, until your quarantine timeframe is over. Those employees who are unable to perform the essential functions of their position working remotely should consult current HR policies to determine applicable leave.

Will I know if someone on campus (student or employee) tests positive for COVID-19?

Yes. You can review aggregate test results, including student and employees results, by viewing the University's Daily COVID-19 Dashboard

How will I know if I've been exposed to the virus?

In case of exposure to someone with COVID-19, you may be notified by the Tennessee Department of Health, a campus contact tracer, and/or the University Office of Public Health. You might speak with a combination of these departments in the interest of timeliness and depending on your need for campus services.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Who is eligible to receive the vaccine?

Tennessee uses this allocation strategy to determine who is eligible to receive the vaccine.

Are the vaccines safe?

The available vaccines are safe, and are recommended for most individuals 16 years of age and older. For additional information, please refer to reputable sources of information about the vaccine, such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 

How with the University know if i, and others, have been vaccinated?

Once you have been vaccinated and have received the full series of shots required by your vaccine’s manufacturer, please upload a copy of your documentation to this portal. It is helpful for the Public Health Office to know the percentage of the Sewanee community that remains susceptible to the virus. That data will inform our policies going forward.

How will getting vaccinated affect masking, testing, etc.?

Once you have been vaccinated, you will need to continue to follow the 3W’s and to be tested as requested by the University. The vaccines work well in preventing disease in those who receive them, but it is not certain to what degree the vaccines prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus to another individual.

Will getting vaccinated cause me to test positive?

The vaccines do not have any effect on the validity of our PCR testing results.

Should I be vaccinated if I've already had COVID-19?

Even if you have already had COVID-19, you should still be vaccinated when you become eligible. While it is believed that those who have already had COVID-19 are less likely to be infected again, the amount of immunity conferred by a previous infection is highly variable and uncertain.