Fulfilling Your Community Commitment

A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


  • Why making a community commitment is so important
  • Who is notified when someone tests positive for COVID-19

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

With the fall semester now underway, each of us has a role to play to support in-person learning and on-campus collaborations with colleagues. Following Yale’s health and safety guidelines and participation in the vaccination, testing, and tracing programs are essential elements of that role. In this week’s message, I will discuss how and why we each make this commitment to our community. In answer to your recent questions, I will also provide additional information about certain aspects of the contact tracing process.

Why do we each make a commitment to the community?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that our individual actions—from avoiding large social gatherings to wearing a mask to participating openly and fully with contact tracing—can have critical impacts on the community around us. Most recently, each of us has been asked to support the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, and collectively, 99% of students and nearly 98% of faculty and staff have complied by being fully vaccinated or receiving an exemption from vaccination. Your actions to support the program have been instrumental in reducing our risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission as the semester begins.

Our collective commitment to the community extends beyond our vaccination program to encompass the many layers of protection that the university has put in place through its health and safety guidelines. This commitment is embodied in the Yale Community Compact, which all students sign, and in the Statement of Expectations for faculty, staff, and trainees. These formal documents, through their clear descriptions of our shared commitment to keep our campus as safe as possible, provide a helpful reference point for our daily actions. They also underscore the importance of referring frequently to the university’s health and safety guidelines and policies, which are updated to reflect changes in public health conditions and information associated with the pandemic.

If you have questions about your role in upholding these commitments, do not hesitate to contact your Health and Safety Leader (HSL) or the Campus COVID Resource Line (CCRL) at 203-432-6604. If you wish to report concerns about community members’ compliance with our health and safety measures, you may contact your HSL or the Yale University Hotline (online or at 877-360-YALE).

More information on contact tracing: Will I be notified if someone in my workplace or class tests positive for COVID-19?

Many questions about contact tracing arose during, and following, the Yale Town Hall on August 26. In my message of August 27, I answered some of those questions. Today I will discuss what happens if there is a positive case in a workplace or classroom setting and, more specifically, who is notified and why.

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19 (the “index case”), the Yale Contact Tracing Team (YCTT):

  • interviews the index case to:
    • identify close contacts (those within six feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period)
    • identify any additional circumstances related to the index case that might create a risk for transmission beyond close contacts or an outbreak
  • notifies close contacts about their exposures and advises them about steps they should take to care for themselves and protect others
  • asks the index case to notify their manager or instructor so that the manager/instructor can support them by making any appropriate work or study accommodations during the period of isolation
  • contacts the relevant HSL, if indicated due to concerns about broader transmission or an outbreak, and works with public health advisors to determine if additional actions are warranted. These actions may include:
  • notifying the manager or instructor in the potentially exposed workplace or class
  • notifying additional individuals, e.g., in a class, a residence, a workplace, of possible exposure and advising them about asymptomatic testing and symptom monitoring
  • in rare circumstances, temporarily modifying classroom or workplace activities

Yale Environmental Health and Safety is also notified of COVID-19 cases and evaluates whether any campus spaces require review or attention.

Because the university has put in place layers of protection—vaccination, masking, ventilation reviews, testing, personal responsibility—we anticipate that the YCTT and public health advisors will rarely identify a need to call for broad notification or additional classroom or workplace measures. However, if you have concerns about circumstances in your classroom or workplace that may pose a risk, you may contact your HSL or the CCRL at 203-432-6604.

I hope this information provides you with a better understanding of the university’s health and safety guidelines and reinforces the commitments you have made to yourselves and each other. Once again, thank you for all you are doing to keep our campus as safe as possible.

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator