April 30, 2020: Need to maintain privacy with respect to a student's COVID-19 status

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

Recently, several questions have come up regarding reporting of a student’s COVID-19 status. I asked Ann Mech to connect with UMB legal counsel and ensure that we have the correct information on how to handle privileged and confidential health information.

If you receive information from a UMSON student regarding their health status, please utilize the following guidance:

  • If a UMSON student living or working on the UMB or USG campuses discloses COVID-19 illness to a School of Nursing employee, the student should be told to call the UMB COVID-19 Exposure HOTLINE for guidance at (800) 701-9863. If the hotline gets a positive test report about an on-campus student, the hotline may ask the school for help in tracing contacts, but the school does not, on its own, initiate or do contact tracing. 

  • A UMSON employee should not disclose a student’s name and COVID-19 status to anyone else without the student’s written permission to do so. This written permission may be given in the form of an email signifying consent for sharing of information.

  • If the student gives written permission, the USMON employee to whom the student disclosed COVID-19 illness may contact the School of Nursing’s Associate Dean for Student and Academic Services who can then help the student obtain assistance on campus, including offering advice if there are academic concerns. Ensuring the anonymity of anyone reporting COVID-19 illness is of paramount importance. In making any notifications, the identity and privacy of a person who tests positive should be respected so that they can focus completely on their health.

  • Students not living or working on the UMB or USG campuses who are experiencing symptoms of, believe they have been exposed to, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should be told to contact their primary care provider or the UMB Student Health Center at 667-214-1899 for medical advice. Off-campus students who test positive are not required to disclose to the UMB hotline or to UMSON personnel. A student’s disclosure should not be shared with anyone unless the student agrees.

If you are aware of the COVID-19 status of any student, you should provide guidance on contacting the appropriate health entity, but must maintain their privacy, absent written permission for you to share the information. 

Sincerely,

Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and Professor