Friday, Aug. 28, 2020
If you are a Virginia Commonwealth University student or employee, it likely has become part of your morning routine, like making breakfast or brushing your teeth. You open your computer or unlock your phone, briefly evaluate how you feel, and then complete a quick survey. It’s simple, and all over in a few seconds.
But VCU’s daily health check, required for all students, faculty and staff, also is one of several tools the university community is using — along with testing, social distancing and wearing masks — to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. When COVID-19 shut down the university in the spring and employees began developing plans for how to safely reopen campus for the fall semester, preparing physical spaces was a major undertaking. But addressing the day-to-day risks associated with COVID-19 by providing an easy method for people to monitor their own health was crucial as well.
VCU News talked with Thomas Briggs, assistant vice president for safety and risk management, about the importance of completing the daily health checks, and how they fit into the university’s response to the pandemic.
What’s the idea behind daily health checks?
We first designed it back in May when we were considering back-to-campus preparations. The consensus was to make sure students, faculty and staff were checking their health daily. That way we would know daily if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. The questions were taken directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. We added other symptoms, like the loss of smell and taste, when the CDC and VDH updated their guidance.
Why is it important that students, faculty and staff complete the health checks daily?
It goes back to the four ways to protect against COVID-19 — wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick. You should be aware of your personal health to help protect the rest of the community and to take care of yourself if you need medical care. If you are not aware of your health daily, you might miss some symptoms like the loss of the sense of taste and smell. By checking your health daily and becoming aware of your health, you will know to stay home when you’re sick.
How do the app COVIDWISE from the Virginia Department of Health and the VCU daily health checks differ?
COVIDWISE is more useful for contact tracing, that’s the idea behind that app. It’s just one tool in the toolbox. We are supporting its use.
Is there any difference between the daily checks for students and checks for faculty and staff?
There is no difference at all. Most people get them in an email, but it’s also available for employees on the VCU Mobile app by clicking WorkReady and for students on the VCU Mobile app by clicking CampusReady. Both the app and the email have the same questions. If people have any symptoms, we want them to call student health or employee health.
How do the daily health checks fit into what VCU is doing overall to keep everyone safe?
It’s all about personal responsibility for your health and the health of others. We’re all in this together and if we wear a mask, socially distance, wash our hands and stay home when we’re sick, then we protect ourselves and our community.
For more information on the daily health checks and VCU’s return to campus, visit together.vcu.edu/. Learn more about VCU’s testing and screening protocols at https://together.vcu.edu/protocols/testing/.
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