Classroom contact tracing signal change canceled – Grand Valley Lanthorn

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Grand Valley State University announced it has halted classroom contact tracing, a COVID-19 mitigation strategy that alerts people to potential exposure to the virus.

As of January 24, the University of Michigan is continue to contact traceand Michigan State University appears to do the same, except for close contacts who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

However, many institutions are no longer tracing contacts, as trying to track people who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 during this wave of highly contagious omicron variants has proven to be a challenge. difficult and resource-intensive process.

The change in GVSU policy was announced with several emails aimed at certain audiences. A Jan. 24 email to professors shared the news, days before a Jan. 27 email was sent to students. Meanwhile, several faculty members forwarded the announcement to their students, which is how some first learned of the change.

Reactions to the news were varied. The shutdown of contact tracing in GVSU classrooms likely went under the radar of most students in the community. Of the students who noticed it, some were disappointed, while others expressed understanding or slight concern.

The decision is understandable; contact tracing is an intensive undertaking and there are other tasks that the University Virus Action Team and COVID Awareness Team (CAT) could direct their attention to; like booster reach and thrust for high quality masking. By diverting their attention from classroom exposures, the CAT can notify high-risk exposures, such as unmasked household members and close contacts, earlier.

Even before the announcement, students and faculty expressed disappointment with GVSU’s slow contact tracing process. However, the rollout of the decision — notifying professors days ahead of students — has sparked frustration, and it’s easy to confuse this decision with others that are more blatantly wrong.

This pseudo-fiasco seems emblematic of the strange time that members of the GVSU community have been – and likely will continue – to occupy. Michigan and the rest of the United States stand between the early dark ages of the pandemic, plagued by misconceptions and confusion, and the long-awaited “new normal,” when COVID-19 and its seemingly endless chain of variants are becoming endemic and hopefully manageable.

Cathy Armstrong, a communicable disease expert for the Kent County Health Department, said the state of Michigan has begun shifting responsibility for contact tracing from public health officials to the community and individuals.

“If we’re not contact tracing, at least we can identify positive cases, we can let them know what they’re supposed to do, and we do that with a text or email investigation,” Armstrong said. . “That’s where we’re heading because of the ability, but also because that’s what the future looks like.”

The problem is that many people are not complying with other mitigation efforts such as masking and vaccine requirements. GVSU’s decision to halt contact tracing in classrooms has put protecting and informing their classmates that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the hands of individual Lakers.

Throughout the pandemic, GVSU has consistently attributed the university’s “low” number of COVID-19 cases to student diligence in masking and vaccination. With contract hunting in classrooms halted, GVSU reports that it is now largely the responsibility of students and staff to stay safe as the pandemic continues.

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