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OU Interim provost instructs professors not to hold in-person classes online, notify classes of students' positive COVID-19 cases

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Jill Irvine

OU interim Senior Vice President and Provost Jill Irvine.

On Friday afternoon, OU interim Senior Vice President and Provost Jill Irvine outlined details of the COVID-19 notification process and said Goddard Health Services will be notified of positive results from off-campus testing sites. 

In an email to faculty, Irvine said Goddard Health Services will still be notified of students who are tested at an off-campus location and receive a positive result. Previously, though, OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith said in emails to The Daily that Goddard will be notified of community members’ positive test results from off-campus Cleveland County testing sites only if they’re self-reported. Keith also said the university is not conducting or tracking rapid antigen tests on its COVID-19 dashboard

Keith said in a Friday email that “OU asks that all who test positive outside of Goddard Health Services self-report their results through the university’s online COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool at Self-reported numbers are reflected in Goddard numbers.” 

Irvine said in the email OU has “an agreement” to perform activities related to contact-tracing on behalf of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

Irvine said if a professor is notified by a student of a positive COVID-19 case, they should encourage them to complete the COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool if they haven’t already. The professor should not notify their class that a student has tested positive. 

Irvine said if a student tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to self-isolate after possible exposure, their instructor will receive an email from Student Affairs. This follows the same process for notifying instructors of students’ extended absences for other extenuating circumstances, so receiving such an email doesn’t necessarily indicate a positive COVID-19 test result. 

According to the email, the notification will be similar to the following: 

"Sam Sam, Student ID Number:111111111 will be missing class and/or attending class exclusively online through September 16th. This student has been notified that they will need to contact each professor individually to identify proper steps moving forward. We ask that you extend reasonable leniency and flexibility where possible during this time. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact our office at 325-2671 or"

Irvine said in the email instructors should not ask a student to disclose their reason for absence, as this could be a violation of HIPAA laws. She also reminded instructors the number of students that may need to self-isolate could be far more than those that actually test positive. 

If a professor receives a notification from Student Affairs about a student’s absence, they should provide accommodations for continued instruction remotely. According to the email, instructors that need help with remote instruction should contact the Office of Digital Learning. 

In the email, Irvine also said her office is aware that some faculty members have chosen to hold their classes online despite being scheduled to hold in-person or hybrid classes. 

“This is not a decision that can be made unilaterally by a faculty member. Please do not make changes in the mode of delivery,” she said. “We will continue to monitor closely the health and health care capacity trends on campus and, should a decision be made to move some courses to a fully online format, you will be notified.” 

Ari Fife is the OU Daily assistant news managing editor and a junior journalism major minoring in international studies and political science. Previously, she served as the summer editor-in-chief, a senior news reporter and an SGA beat reporter.

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