Nicole Letendre ’23
Several weeks into the semester, College of the Holy Cross students are likely well-acquainted with the platform HC Clear, used daily to schedule COVID tests, check-up on test results, and catalogue symptoms. As the semester has progressed, key questions have arisen regarding self-reporting symptoms, as well as the analysis of the data itself. I had the opportunity to bring these important questions to the attention of the Director of Health Services, Kelsey DeVoe, and the Director of COVID Response Operations, David Shettler, who collaborated on these responses, and who work diligently day after day to keep Holy Cross students both healthy and informed.
What happens if you report a single symptom, such as nausea or coughing?
If you report a symptom on HC clear, you will receive a “red X” that will prevent you from accessing specific facilities. It instructs you to call Health Services to discuss your symptoms. If it is after hours or Health Services is closed, you can email email@example.com and we monitor that email. You should be doing your daily symptom checker at the beginning of the day, so we are generally quick to respond. A provider in Health Services will talk to you about your symptoms. So if you have nausea, but you also report that you ate a lot of junk food, we will “clear” your red X since your symptom seems unrelated to COVID. We use our clinical judgement to decide next steps. If we feel your symptoms cannot be explained by another source, and could be consistent with COVID, we will ask you to isolate in the hotel until your COVID PCR test (or a flu or strep test) result comes back the next day.
Basically the main message I want to get across is: if you have a symptom or a question, just reach out! We’re going to talk to you, get your history, and help you figure it out. You MAY need to isolate in the hotel for a night until we get test results back, but it’s never an automatic thing, it’s always a conversation.
Who analyzes reported symptoms? And what are the standards in place for responding?
Health Services can review all the red Xs, but we are asking the students to take responsibility for their health and safety, and if they report a symptom in HC Clear, they should follow up with a call or email if it is off-hours. We do review the list of students with red X’s but we may not see yours for an hour or two. The best practice is, if you report a symptom in HC Clear, you should follow up with Health Services right after so we can evaluate you and help with next steps. Next steps would be dependent on the provider’s evaluation. If they feel your symptoms are not consistent with COVID, your red X will be cleared, and you will be instructed to report any changes or new symptoms, and keep up with your COVID testing. If your symptoms are suspicious for COVID, you will be instructed to come down to Health Services to get a test, and we will move you to the College Isolation Space (the Holiday Inn) until your COVID test comes back the next day.
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine, and how do you dictate a particular response to symptoms/COVID positive tests/close contacts?
Isolation is for those who have tested positive or have symptoms consistent with COVID and we think they may test positive. Isolation means you are removing the sick person from the community, to protect others. Quarantine is when you are a close contact of a positive case, so we remove you from the community just in case you end up sick. When you isolate, you isolate for your infectious period, which with COVID is 10 days long on average. When you quarantine, you quarantine for your incubation period, meaning the time it takes for the virus to potentially develop. The incubation period of COVID is 14 days, but most people convert to positive between day 2 and day 8, so we will test you a few times while in quarantine, and if you remain without symptom, and have a negative test on or after day 8, you can be released after 10 days.