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UHV Exposure Prevention Statement Regarding COVID-19

The University of Houston-Victoria has established this COVID-19 Exposure Prevention Statement regarding the management of students, faculty and staff following potential travel-related COVID-19 exposure. UHV is taking this action to protect our community members from transmission of COVID-19. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving public health situation. UHV will continue to monitor any related updates provided by the CDC, the state and local public health authorities.

Travel Restrictions

UHV is restricting international and domestic business travel that requires university funds or approval until at least the end of April. In addition, UHV is strongly recommending refraining from any international travel during the same time. UHV also is recommending limiting domestic personal travel, at least until the end of April, particularly for those with underlying health conditions.

Those in the UHV community should examine personal travel plans and make changes or take precautions where necessary. UHV also encourages students, faculty and staff to heed all U.S. Government travel warnings related to COVID-19. In recent days, both the CDC and U.S. Department of State have expanded their warnings.

Self-Quarantine

All faculty, staff and students who travel outside of the United States, whether it is personal or university related, are required to complete a 14-day self-quarantine and receive approval before returning to campus.

Self-Report

Anyone who has taken or will take any international travel, since January 1, 2020, must self-report their travel to UHV by completing the International Travel Registration form. This includes faculty, staff and students at the University of Houston-Victoria at Katy.

UHV is taking this action based on an assessment of risk for those individuals and our commitment to deliver rapid response of infection control measures to minimize potential transmission and keep the campus community healthy.

UHV reiterates its commitment to maintaining an educational, working and living environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and where every member can thrive. It is essential that we all be supportive, respectful and inclusive of the members of our community who are affected by this global issue.

Self-Quarantine and Prevention Information

What Does it Mean to Self-Quarantine?

Self-quarantine is an agreement to remain at home and not to go to work or school, limit your movements outside and monitor your health for 14 days after returning from all travel, either personal or university related, outside of the United States. You are agreeing to isolate yourself from others to limit any potential for transmission of the virus, even if you are not experiencing symptoms at the end of your travel. At the end of the self-quarantine, you must receive approval before returning to campus by filling out the Request to Return to Campus form.

For the most up-to-date information about prevention and treatment, visit the CDC online.

General Self-Quarantine Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines for self-quarantine:

  • Stay home except to get medical care, and please call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Do not return to work or come to campus.
  • Stay away from public areas, including grocery stores and malls.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands afterward with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Use soap and water preferentially if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces daily with a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If they develop or worsen, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.

Prevention

Prevention continues to be the best protection for this as well as reducing your chance of contracting other respiratory illnesses caused by influenza, parainfluenza and RSV viruses. This includes staying home when you are sick, which cannot be emphasized enough.

Regarding this new COVID-19 and general preventive measures, we feel it is important for staff, faculty and students to:

  1. Always practice good hygiene: wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing food, cups or utensils.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  3. Make sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid personal contact with sick people.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  5. Get a flu shot.
  6. Recognize the symptoms of this illness, which may include a high fever, cough or difficulty breathing, similar to what you may feel with the flu or a bad cold.
  7. Seek care and immediately notify UHV Student Affairs and your health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms.
  8. Stay home when you are sick.

The incubation period (how soon the symptoms appear from the time of first exposure) for this kind of virus is typically 10 to 14 days but can be earlier. Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infections, including infection with SARS-CoV-2.

What to Do if You Feel Sick

If you are experiencing influenza-like illness, with fever greater than 100.3, and symptoms that include cough, body aches, severe sore throat or runny nose, you should seek medical attention, especially if symptoms worsen.

UHV students in the Victoria area may go to the Community Health Centers of South Central Texas if they do not already have a primary care provider. Students should contact the center at 361-576-2110 or their primary care provider and identify themselves as having flu-like symptoms before going. If students do not have transportation, Student Services should be contacted at 361-570-4430. UHV students in the Houston area or other locations should consult with their regular health care providers or seek treatment at a local health center.

Faculty and staff who are ill with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their personal physician for further advice.

UHV remains in regular contact with local, state and federal health officials for the latest information and will continue to provide updates to the UHV community when warranted.

For additional information about COVID-19, including signs and symptoms, transmission and risk of exposure, and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms, please refer to the links below. The CDC’s website and Texas Department of State Health Services will also issue guidance for those planning to travel or who have recently returned.

Nondiscrimination

UHV reiterates its commitment to maintaining an educational, working and living environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and where every member can thrive. It is essential that we all be supportive, respectful and inclusive of the members of our community who are affected by this global issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any confirmed COVID-19 cases at UHV or UHV Katy?

No.

Will the university share information about students, faculty or staff who have traveled internationally?

In compliance with state and federal health privacy laws, the university will not release names or identifying information of any student or employee unless required to do so by law.

Do I need to report my plans for international travel if I am a student, faculty member or staff member?

Yes.

Do I need to report my plans for international travel even if it is for personal reasons?

Yes.

How do I report?

You will need to complete an International Travel Registration form. This includes faculty, staff and students at the University of Houston-Victoria at Katy.

What happens if I travel outside of the United States?

Students, faculty and staff who travel outside of the United States who do not show symptoms on re-entry are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return home before being permitted to return to campus.

What does it mean to self-quarantine?

Self-quarantine means the isolation of students, faculty and staff who may not be experiencing symptoms but have the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 because of travel.

Are there instructions for self-quarantine?

  • Stay home (or other location approved by your local health department). This means do not go to work, public areas or attend large gatherings. If you need medical care, call your health care provider. Call ahead before you go to your doctor’s office or to an emergency room and tell them your symptoms and that you have been traveling.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Postpone any travel. If travel is absolutely necessary, you need to coordinate with your local health department. If you travel and become ill, you may not be able to return home.
  • Wash your hands often, and practice good hygiene.
  • Postpone all non-essential medical appointments until you are out of quarantine. If you have an essential appointment during the quarantine, tell your local health department, which will help coordinate the visit.
  • Consider minimizing contact with people and animals in your home (stay in your own room and, if possible, use your own bathroom). Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, towels and bedding.

Should I self-monitor my health during self-quarantine?

Yes. You should follow these self-monitoring guidelines:

  • Measure your temperature twice a day. If you do not have a thermometer or need instructions for using one, let your local public health department know.
  • Watch for cough or difficulty breathing.

If you develop a fever or cough, have difficulty breathing, or need medical care:

  • Call your health care provider. Call ahead before you go to your doctor's office or to an emergency room and tell them your symptoms and that you have been traveling.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • If possible, wear a face mask if you need to be around other people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze.

What should I do if I really feel sick during my self-quarantine?

If you feel you need emergency medical attention, call 911 and let them know that you traveled. If it is not an emergency, call your health provider prior to your visit and let them know of your travel.

What if I live on campus? Can I self-quarantine on campus?

UHV students should self-quarantine off campus. This ensures that anyone who has returned and develops symptoms of COVID-19 will not inadvertently spread the virus to others.

How can I make sure I do not fall behind in my classes while I am self-quarantined?

You should contact your professors if you become unable to do academic work online while in self-quarantine. If you do not feel comfortable contacting your professors directly, please email Jay Lambert, UHV vice president for Student Affairs, at lambertj1@uhv.edu.

Can UHV employees perform work during the self-quarantine period?

Yes, employees may be able to work remotely, with supervisor approval. Supervisors will inform employees how to report their time.

What do employees do if they are not approved to work remotely during the self-quarantine period?

Employees will need to use sick leave or vacation leave if they want the self-quarantine period to be paid leave. Questions may be directed to UHV Human Resources.

What do I do after the 14-day self-quarantine period is over?

You must receive approval before returning to campus by filling out the Request to Return to Campus form.

Will I be able to return to the university after I send that email?

Based on your responses to the questionnaire, you may be directed to a health care provider before being approved to return to campus.

Who can I contact if I have symptoms?

UHV students in the Victoria area may go to the Community Health Centers of South Central Texas if they do not already have a primary care provider. Students should contact the center at 361-576-2110 or their primary care provider and identify themselves as having flu-like symptoms before going. If students do not have transportation, Student Services should be contacted at 361-570-4430. UHV students in the Houston area or other locations should consult with their regular health care providers or seek treatment at a local health center. Faculty and staff who are ill with flu-like symptoms should contact their personal physician for further advice.

Will campus events be canceled due to COVID-19?

UHV is canceling all university events through the end of the spring semester. This includes all Homecoming events scheduled for March 30 through April 4 and the International Festival on April 17. UHV will decide at the end of March whether to postpone the May 16 spring commencement ceremony and will update everyone at that time.

Will study abroad programs continue for the spring 2020 semester?

UHV has canceled all study abroad programs to all countries until further notice. If you have immediate questions regarding Study Abroad, please email international@uhv.edu

Why are some people wearing masks on campus?

It is common in many cultures, including in the U.S., for individuals to choose to wear masks as a way to minimize direct contact with airborne pathogens. The wearing of a mask is voluntary and should not be interpreted as an indication that the wearer is ill.

What can I do if I am experiencing suspected bias or discrimination?

UHV is committed to creating an inclusive climate for all of our community members. The CDC offers guidance on countering stigma related to this virus. If you believe that you are experiencing discrimination or bias related to your national origin, race or other protected characteristic, please contact UHV Equal Opportunity.

I am a person impacted by the evolving, global situation surrounding COVID-19. It has left me feeling anxious and worried. Where can I turn for help?

UHV recognizes that this is a stressful situation for many members of our community. For faculty and staff who are eligible for employee benefits, please contact UHV Human Resources. For students, please contact the UHV Counseling Center.

I’ve received emails related to COVID-19, and I am not sure if they are legitimate. What should I do?

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an advisory warning of scams involving COVID-19 and UH System Information Security already is seeing phishing messages being received by faculty, staff and students related to the virus. If you receive a suspicious phishing email to your UHV email account, notify security@uhv.edu.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warns individuals to remain vigilant for scams. Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19.

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.
  • Use trusted sources, such as legitimate, government websites, for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.

What should I do if an employee under my supervision is diagnosed with COVID-19?

First, remember that the employee will appreciate hearing your support while they recover from the illness. You should clarify whether the employee has received any specific guidance from the public health department related to others in the workplace. Inform the employee that he or she will need to submit a Request to Return to Campus form and be approved before they can return to campus, including telework.

Next, you can anticipate that other employees may have heard about or suspect that someone is out sick with COVID-19-related illness. They will understandably have concerns when they hear about a colleague who is ill. There will be concern for the colleague as well as concern about a potential exposure risk to themselves or others.

You may acknowledge that there is an individual in the unit who has tested positive for COVID-19 without identifying the individual. You also may inform employees that guidance is being sought from the city/county health department to determine if there is indication for quarantine or further notifications as a precautionary measure. If employees are able to work from home and aren’t already doing so, you can offer that as an option while waiting for health department guidance. If any employees are identified as having worked closely with the infected employee, they should be sent home for a 14-day period to minimize exposure to others and for those employees to monitor any symptoms.

Determining precisely what steps to take may necessitate guidance from the city/county health department.

What will the city/county health department do if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19?

The city/county health department has the responsibility to perform a risk assessment for those who may have been in contact with the infected employee. The city/county health department will work with the infected individual to identify and directly notify people who have been in close contact with the person testing positive and provide specific instructions on what form or duration of quarantine is required.

  • If the city/county health department determines that some co-workers had a low-risk exposure, then those co-workers will be allowed to continue to work, subject to any university restrictions on return to campus, but should monitor themselves for symptoms of illness.
  • If the health department determines that some co-workers had a high-risk exposure, then those co-workers will be contacted directly by the health department with instructions to self-quarantine for 14 days following exposure and contact their personal health care provider by telephone if they become ill. Employees must complete the Request to Return to Campus form for guidance regarding when they can return to work.

Will others in the unit be told the identity of an employee under my supervision or co-worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19? 

No. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be posted on the COVID-19 website. Individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will not be identified.

An employee of ours has tested positive for COVID-19. What actions should we take with his or her coworkers?

You should send home all employees who worked closely with that employee for a 14-day period to ensure the infection does not spread. Ask the employee to identify all individuals who worked in close proximity (3 to 6 feet) with him or her in the previous 14 days to ensure you have a full list of those who should be sent home. When sending the employees home, do not identify by name the infected employee, or you could risk a violation of confidentiality laws. If you work in a shared office building or area, you should inform building management so they can take whatever precautions they deem necessary.

One of our employees has a suspected but unconfirmed case of COVID-19. What should we do?

Take the same precautions as noted above. Treat the situation as if the suspected case is a confirmed case for purposes of sending home potentially infected employees. Communicate with your affected workers to let them know that the employee has not tested positive for the virus but has been exhibiting symptoms that lead you to believe a positive diagnosis is possible. Do not identify by name the infected employee, or you could risk a violation of confidentiality laws.


How can we distinguish between a “suspected but unconfirmed” case of COVID-19 and a typical illness? 

There is no easy way for you to make this determination, but you should let logic guide your thinking. Given community spread of COVID-19, international travel is no longer a key indicator. The type of symptoms the employee is exhibiting and whether he or she has been in close contact with another person with COVID-19 symptoms will be the strongest indicators. You should err on the side of caution but not panic.

The EEOC has confirmed that you can inquire into an employee’s symptoms, even if such questions are disability-related, as you would be considered to have a “reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the severe form of pandemic influenza poses a direct threat.” Inquiries into an employee’s symptoms should attempt to distinguish the symptoms of COVID-19 from the common cold and the seasonal flu

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and a dry cough. This helpful chart can help you and your employees distinguish between COVID-19, the seasonal flu or a common cold.

It is important to remember that you must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.