University of Iowa phasing out COVID self-reporting tool

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 10:46 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - As of Aug. 1, students at the University of Iowa will no longer be asked to report a positive COVID-19 case online.

Jeneane Beck, assistant vice president for external relations, said positive COVID cases will now be handled like any other sick day.

“We’re treating this more as an endemic illness,” Beck said. “We’re going to return to our normal processes of reporting an illness, whether that’s a student reporting it to their faculty members, or a staff member reporting it to their supervisor.”

As for why the self-reporting tool is going away, Beck said the number of people using it is lower than it used to be. Earlier in the pandemic, people got tested at a hospital or a pharmacy. There was contact tracing, so the university had some knowledge of who was likely positive. They could reach out and prompt students to report their cases.

Now, at-home testing is widely available. Beck said with at-home-testing, officials have no way of knowing who is taking a test.

“If a student or a staff member takes a test at home, it may not occur to them to go online and self report COVID-19,” Beck said.

University leaders worried about the data collected by the online self-reporting tool.

“We just felt like the numbers were no longer as accurate as they should be,” Beck said. “Reporting data that isn’t accurate could actually give people a picture that the COVID numbers are lower than they are.”

Beck added the policy change is not a signal that the university no longer takes the pandemic seriously.

“We don’t think this pandemic is over,” Beck said. “We are still going to have masks available at the entrance of every building, we’re still going to have hand sanitizer available, we’re still going to encourage people to look up their own risk factors and take precautions that are wise for them.”

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