Guidance for Exposure to or Positive Test for COVID-19

The purpose of this web page is to provide facts and processes for when a student, staff, or faculty member tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to others who have the virus. Special guidance is included for instructors and supervisors of student employees. In all cases, we have a responsibility as a community to support one another with flexibility and adaptability—and to help each other to remain resilient as students, faculty, and staff find themselves needing to quarantine and/or isolate due to exposure to the virus.


Reporting COVID Concerns/Positive COVID Test Results

Faculty/Staff: If a student tells you that they are experiencing symptoms of COVID, or have tested positive for COVID, encourage the student to fill out their daily Self-Assessment Form or call the GVSU COVID-19 hotline at (833) 734-0020.

Students: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, or have tested positive for COVID, please report this through the daily Self-Assessment Form or call the GVSU COVID-19 hotline at (833) 734-0020.


Terminology: Quarantine vs Isolation

Under the public health code, isolation is required of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. Quarantine is required of individuals who have been exposed to others who have tested positive, or have symptoms and have not yet been tested.


Notification of Instructors

The Virus Action Team receives and processes data concerning students who have tested positive or have been exposed. Instructors will be informed in a timely manner by the Office of the Provost. In addition, students, unless they are ill, will be advised and encouraged to reach out immediately to faculty.

GVSU or Spectrum Health staff will reach out regularly to students in isolation or quarantine.


What Instructors Should Do for Their Students in Quarantine or Isolation

Upon receiving an email or phone call from the Office of the Provost, or from a student, letting you know the student is in quarantine or isolation, please do the following:

  • Respond ASAP to the student, expressing concern for their health and reassuring them that they will be able to continue their learning.
    • In your message, help the student to manage expectations—each class is likely to be different, with accommodations by the instructor varying by course modality, content area, or pedagogy.
    • It is fine for you to do this first response without including a detailed plan for classroom engagement, but do get back to the student in a timely manner about how to keep up with the course’s workload.
    • Students will be interested in these resources collected on one page by the university: https://www.gvsu.edu/care/covid-resources-20.htm
  • Handle a COVID-related absence like you would other illness/absences you’ve helped students navigate in the past, while also reassuring students their grades will not be penalized for not being present in class.
    • If you are new to teaching or haven’t worked with a student facing a short-term absence from the course in the past, reach out to colleagues for support and ideas for how they are handling these issues.
    • Simulcasting/Zooming class meetings can be one solution you consider, but it isn’t the only way to help students keep up with the work. Asynchronous participation on the class Blackboard site, meetings during your office hours, or special assignments are all appropriate alternatives to students being able to keep up with the class when they cannot physically come to the classroom.

On this subject, the Virus Action Team has published some frequently asked questions.


Special Class Attendance Policy for Fall 2020

A flexible attendance policy is necessary to accommodate students who may have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 (and will need to quarantine) or who themselves have tested positive (and will need to isolate).

Thus, upon recommendation by the Academic Policies and Standards Committee, the University Academic Senate and the Provost approved this temporary attendance policy for Fall 2020:

1. Faculty are prohibited from having an attendance policy that directly affects grades.

2. Notes from health care providers are not necessary for “excused” absences.

The University’s Class Attendance Policy details what is expected of both students and faculty. COVID-19 related absences should be “excused,” Students should also have the ability to quarantine at any point in the semester if they are concerned about COVID-19. Class participation may still be part of a student’s grade as engagement can be accomplished in multiple ways which do not require students to be “in-seat” during the course.


Supporting Quarantined or Isolated Student Employees

If a student employee you supervise is isolated or quarantined, please do the following:

  • Reach out to the student to demonstrate care and reassure the student you are looking forward to them being back in the office after they’ve recovered or are through the quarantine period.
  • If possible and the student is not so ill that they cannot work, assign the student remote work, and stay in touch with them about this work via Zoom, phone, or email.
  • Refer to Financial Aid any student who expresses a financial hardship because they are unable to work during their quarantine or isolation period. There are resources in Financial Aid to help students.
  • Student employees are eligible for up to 50 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) between now and December 31, 2020. The student employee must complete/submit the EPSL form and log time in UltraTime using the EPS time code. The student employee can record EPSL time for all hours they were scheduled to work up to 50 hours. Once the EPSL form has been processed, the employee and supervisor will receive a communication from Human Resources confirming the request and providing direction for submitting UltraTime.
  • If the student isn’t able to work during their quarantine or isolation period—either because they are too ill or because the work isn’t able to be done remotely—reach out from time to time to check in on the student and let them know you are thinking about them.

Students and Housing

For students living on-campus, GVSU has a plan to care for students who are quarantined or in isolation by ensuring they have appropriate housing and meals and are checked on regularly. 

For all students, details can be found in this flowchart: What Happens When A Student Gets COVID-19? (PDF)


Quarantine or Isolation of Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who need to be quarantined or isolated should work with their supervisor and/or appointing officer to arrange a remote work schedule or to take sick leave.