Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a foundational pillar of our COVID-19 response, allowing us to stop the halt of infection by isolating those who have tested positive, quarantining those who have been identified as close contacts, and notifying some other members of the community to self-monitor for symptoms. The key to effective contact tracing is quick reporting, investigation, and notification, which requires the participation of all members of the community.
  • If you have tested positive, please contact securitycommand@colum.edu as soon as you are able.
  • If a student informs you that they have tested positive, please ask them to contact securitycommand@colum.edu and studentrelations@colum.edu immediately, or you can report a case to those addresses on the student's behalf. If you are not sure whether the student has reported their case, please notify Security Command anyway, if anything to ensure notification is as timely as possible.
It is important that everyone at the college support students who have to isolate or quarantine through what is unavoidably a very stressful time and a disruption to their educational experience. By working with students concerned with missing class content and assignments, you will help prioritize their health and the health of our community. As a reminder, students or employees who are symptomatic – whether with confirmed COVID or symptoms that could be something else – should be guided to stay home, get tested if they have not yet done so, and get well.


Since early March 2020, Columbia has had a protocol for members of the campus community to inform Campus Safety and Security if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms, or have come in close contact with someone who is sick or is experiencing symptoms.

Campus Safety and Security personnel has undergone the Johns Hopkins contact tracing training, and also relies on a protocol developed by the Chicago Department of Public Health to identify and inform members of the campus community who may have been exposed to individuals who meet the above criteria, and to determine if other members of the community need to be notified that they may need to take precautions as a result of a contact with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms, has been diagnosed or has tested positive.

We continue to support public health authorities and provide appropriate assistance with contact tracing.

How Close Contacts are Identified
If an individual reports to the College they have tested positive for COVID-19, contact tracers will work with the positive individual to identify their potential close contacts and those individuals will be contacted for notification and guidance.

If you are an identified case, a contact tracer will interview you to determine the period in which you may have been infectious. You will be asked to identify people who were in physical close contact with you within six feet for a period of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, during the time you were potentially infectious.

Unvaccinated Close Contacts
Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should stay home and quarantine if they have been within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period of someone who has COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Unvaccinated individuals must also immediately report to Campus Security that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are a close contact, notify Campus Security at securitycommand@colum.edu.  Students should also notify Student Relations at studentrelations@colum.edu.


Vaccinated Close Contacts
If you are a vaccinated individual who is a close contact, the college requires you to get tested 5 days after the date of your close contact, even though you are vaccinated. Your test should occur no sooner than Day 5 after the close contact. You are allowed on campus in the days preceding your test, provided you wear a mask at all times. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

Please know your ID will be turned off on Day 6 after the close contact. To enter campus buildings after that time and have your ID turned back on, you must receive a negative test from our campus testing center. To make an appointment at the CareATC testing center at 618 S. Michigan, call 844-766-3775; the phone line is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. In the event that you are sick with COVID-19, employees should contact HRbenefits@colum.edu; students should email studentrelations@colum.edu and notify securitycommand@colum.edu as soon as possible. 

Notification Requirements
You are required to notify Campus Security at securitycommand@colum.edu and Student Relations at studentrelations@colum.edu (students only) if you are a campus community member who:

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Is waiting for test results because you are experiencing symptoms and currently self-isolating.
  • Recently had close contact with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.