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COVID-19 Testing & Recovery: Faculty, Staff and Postdocs

Posted by on Thursday, June 11, 2020 in .


Faculty, staff and postdocs who have symptoms related to COVID-19, have received a positive COVID-19 test result outside the VUMC system, or have been officially notified that they are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person must call the Occupational Health Center (OHC) at 615-936-0955 to receive guidance for their symptoms, possible testing, isolation/quarantine period, and return to campus criteria. If after-hours, OHC should call back within 30 minutes once a message is left. If OHC is not open and the symptoms are severe enough, the individual should go to the VUMC emergency department.

An individual awaiting test results must remain at home off campus in quarantine and keep their department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status.

If an individual believes they have contracted COVID-19 after exposure to a known COVID-19 positive person on campus and/or while performing job duties, OHC may direct the individual to complete a First Report of Work Injury or Illness.

Members of the Vanderbilt community that include undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, staff and post docs who are authorized to be on campus, and are engaged in on-campus, in-person activities, will be included in the institution’s COVID-19 periodic on-campus testing program. The sampling of Vanderbilt community members selected for testing will be based on analysis of COVID-19 test outcomes in segments of the community and other factors that will ensure a representative, meaningful and targeted sample of the VU community. Frequency of the testing during the fall semester will be based on the analysis of the outcome data being surveilled. If you have previously been COVID-19 positive in the last three months, you may be exempt from COVID-19 testing for a period of time.  Please complete the waiver request form and upload relevant documentation, which will go to the Public Health Command Center for review.

Learn more about the Voluntary Faculty COVID-19 Periodic Testing Program.

Those enrolled in VU’s health insurance plan may be aware that our insurance provider, Aetna, is taking significant steps in response to COVID-19. Aetna will waive co-pays and member cost share for COVID-19 testing. This will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be performed in any approved laboratory location.

Learn more on the Aetna website, or contact HR at


The university has also updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts. The CDC defines a close contact as any individual who was within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic people who have tested positive, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person who tested positive is isolated. Asymptomatic close contacts will be tested on day 8 of the required quarantine period. This applies specifically to all faculty, staff, post docs, and students who are authorized to be on campus and are participating in on-campus activities.

How test kits for asymptomatic close contacts are delivered will vary slightly based on the individual’s quarantine location. If an individual identified as a close contact is in on-campus quarantine housing, a pre-paid test kit will be delivered to the person’s quarantine location to be completed on Day 8 of their quarantine period. If an individual identified as a close contact lives off-campus, a weblink will be emailed on Day 5 of their quarantine period to order a pre-paid test kit to be delivered to their off-campus location by Day 8.

Positive Case and RECOVERY

Faculty, staff or postdocs who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home* and follow current CDC guidance. To help determine the risk of potential exposure to co-workers and others on campus, as part of the Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center, Occupational Health will conduct contact tracing with the individual who has tested positive. Those individuals determined to be a potential close contact will be given the name of the individual who tested positive so that their risk can be further assessed. Occupational Health may contact the supervisor/mentor/department chair if further contact tracing information for the COVID-19 positive individual is needed; however, the actual test result (and any other protected health information) will not be disclosed. For more information on contact tracing, please visit the contact tracing page.

Individuals who are defined as a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person are entered into Occupational Health’s symptom monitoring survey that is completed daily. The objective is to closely monitor each individual to ensure that any signs of infection are addressed early.

Vanderbilt is following CDC’s recommended recovery strategy. If an individual had symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, recovery status (and clearance to return to campus/work) is assigned when: 1) the individual remains fever free without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours, 2) symptoms have improved, and 3) it has been at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared. If the individual tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, the individual can be cleared to return to campus 10 days after the test as long as the individual does not develop symptoms. If the individual develops symptoms, then the individual must follow the recovery strategy for those with symptoms. Notification for return to on-campus activities is directed through Occupational Health.

*On-campus residential faculty and staff will receive separate guidance from the Office of Academic Affairs and Residential Faculty. 

COVID-19 Scenarios for faculty


  • STAY HOME: Notify Occupational Health Center (OHC) for assessment and testing. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.
  • PAUSE: Stay off-campus and quarantine while awaiting test result.
  • ALL CLEAR: My test is negative so I can return to campus as long as I am not a close contact.


  • STAY AT HOME: Notify OHC and fill out Public Health Central Command Center (PHCCC) webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher. Complete contact tracing with OHC as soon as possible.
  • PAUSE: Remain off-campus for isolation period, usually 10 days but length can vary.
  • ALL CLEAR: I completed isolation and can return to campus when released by OHC.


  • STAY AT HOME: Complete PHCCC webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.
  • PAUSE: Remain off campus for quarantine period, usually 14 days after last contact but length can vary.
  • ALL CLEAR: I completed quarantine and can return to campus when released by OHC or PHCCC as applicable.