Contact tracing and cleaning procedures (September 8, 2021)

To: FAS Department and Program Chairs 
Cc: FAS Chair’s Assistants, Operations Managers, and Lead Administrators;  FAS Dean’s Office; FAS Steering

[Summary: This message outlines the contact tracing and cleaning procedures that will be followed in the event of a positive COVID test result.]

Dear FAS Department and Program Chairs, 

Several of you have asked what you should do if you learn that someone in your unit has tested positive for COVID-19.  I write to reassure you that the university has health and safety protocols in place that will be initiated in the event of a positive COVID-19 test. If a member of your unit tests positive, your priority should be to support that person during their period of quarantine and recovery. That support may include engaging with any issues that arise related to their remote work. 

Department staff or administrators should not engage in contact tracing: this work will be done by Yale’s highly experienced contact tracing team. Stephanie Spangler, University COVID-19 Coordinator, described the contact tracing process in her August 27 message.  

The contact tracing team will identify contacts of the individual who has tested positive and will also look carefully for circumstances that may pose high risk for transmission. Contact tracers will identify all close contacts (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period), including those in the classroom. Those individuals will be notified and provided with counsel; the current protocol can be found here. Contract tracers generally do not make broad announcements to entire classrooms, as high vaccination rates and mask wearing provide significant protection. 

Yale Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is notified of instances of positive tests so that they may determine whether any campus spaces need additional attention. Facilities Services are already cleaning and disinfecting all University spaces in accordance with current CDC guidance and in alignment with Yale’s EHS and Public Health Committee approvals. In addition, Facilities Services mobilizes to respond when EHS identifies specific spaces that require additional disinfection. Disinfecting wipes are provided at all classrooms, conference rooms, breakrooms, and other common areas for further cleaning and disinfection. Additional details on current cleaning protocols are available here.   

In addition, Yale’s COVID-19 asymptomatic testing program is available to any member of the community who wishes to be tested regardless of the contact tracing team’s findings. 

If you have questions, please contact the Health and Safety Leader for your department.

Please feel free to share this message with colleagues who have expressed interest in or concern about campus COVID protocols.

Thank you for all that you do to support your colleagues and students.

With gratitude,


Tamar Szabó Gendler

Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy

Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science

Yale University