COVID-19 Workplace Positive Case Protocol

Last updated 7:15 pm MST, Jan. 5

Table of Contents

All Employees

Employee Protocol

Returning to Worksite


Supervisor Protocols

  1. Positive Test (including required reporting and notifications)
  2. Experiencing Symptoms

Campus Contractors and Vendors

This webpage outlines the required processes for supervisors and employees when someone working onsite experiences a positive case of COVID-19.

These protocols must be initiated immediately upon learning of a positive case.

Report Positive Test
Reporting to SAFER is strongly encouraged for individual employees, but required for supervisors.
Please follow the protocol steps in addition to reporting.


Employee Protocol    Supervisor Protocol


For guidance, email the HR COVID Response Group.

Privacy policy


Any written documentation related to the protocols on this webpage is confidential information and must be kept in a medical file separate from the employee’s personnel file.

View Privacy Guidelines (PDF)

View Retention Schedule Policy

What is a positive case?


A positive case occurs when:

  • An employee tests positive for COVID-19.

  • An employee experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but does not yet have a test result.

If an employee has close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, please refer to the University’s COVID-19 Exposure Protocol.

CDC COVID-19 guidelines


The University's positive-case protocols are based on CDC guidelines and best-practices.


View CDC COVID-19 Guidance

All Employees

Employee Protocols

Employees, student workers, graduate assistants/associates, and DCCs who work on-site at a campus location are required to notify their direct supervisor if they have a positive test or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Please follow these steps.

Positive Test

  Your supervisor will direct you to leave the worksite if you have not done so already.

  We strongly encourage you to report to the SAFER team to help the University conduct contact tracing. View contact tracing flowchart (PDF).

  Document your close worksite contacts and the worksite locations that you occupied for longer than 15 minutes during the two days prior to your test results or onset of symptoms. Your supervisor will need this information.

Symptoms (But No Test Results)

  Do not come to your worksite while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

  Take a COVID-19 test. You may contact your healthcare provider of choice or Campus Health. You may also use the free Cats TakeAway Testing.

  If your test result is positive, refer to the Positive Test protocol.

  If your test result is negative, and you were tested 5 or more days after symptoms first appeared, then you may return to the worksite if feeling well. Otherwise, please practice good judgement when deciding to return

Please work with your supervisor to understand the next steps necessary for your position, make a plan if you need to isolate or quarantine, and understand the criteria for returning to the worksite.

Returning to Worksite

Review flexible work info

Guides, templates, and things to consider for setting up flexible work.

View the Guidelines

Review leave options

Resources and links to provide an overview of your leave absence options.

View the Leaves page

Review Family and Medical Leave

Eligible employees who are sick or caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19 may be entitled to FMLA under certain circumstances.

View FML Employee Information

Physical return to work

Please review the CDC’s guidance for quarantine and isolation.

If an employee is exposed to someone who tests positive: 
Please refer to the University’s COVID-19 Exposure Protocol.

If an employee tests positive, regardless of vaccination status: Updated - 7:15 pm, Jan. 5 

  • They must isolate for a minimum of 5 days.

    • To calculate a 5-day isolation period for a symptomatic employee, day 0 is the first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after symptoms developed.

    • To calculate a 5-day isolation period for an asymptomatic employee, day 0 is the day of the positive test. Day 1 is the first full day after the sample was collected for your positive test.

  • Isolation can be discontinued after 5 full days ONLY IF the employee is fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND other symptoms have improved (the loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​).

  • If fever or other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, the employee must continue isolation until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved.

  • After 5 full days of isolation, employees are also encouraged (not required) to take an antigen test (not PCR). Antigen testing is available through Pima County. At-home test kits are available via If the test result is positive, employees should continue to isolate until day 10.

If an employee experiences symptoms that they think were caused by COVID-19, but have not yet received test results:
Employees may return to a physical worksite when all of the following are true:

  • They are fever-free for 24 hours (1 full day) without fever-reducing medication.

  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

  • At least 5 full days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

If an employee experiences symptoms that they believe may have been caused by something other than COVID-19:
In this case, we strongly encourage the employee to get tested to confirm their symptoms are not COVID-19. If the employee receives a negative COVID-19 test, we encourage the employee and the supervisor to practice good judgment regarding the employee’s return to work.


Employee tests positive for COVID-19

Once you have completed all items in this checklist,
you must report the positive test and make required notifications.

Report Positive Test
Required only if an employee has a positive test

Required Notifications
Required only if an employee has a positive test

1. Ensure that the employee/DCC leaves the workplace and obtain information about close contacts.

  Ask the person to go or stay home, and encourage them to seek healthcare as needed.

  Gather work locations they occupied for more than 15 minutes during the two days prior to their positive test result and/or onset of symptoms (whichever occurred first). You will need this information for SAFER reporting and required notifications.

  Identify known close contacts in their work locations during the same time period. Close contacts are people who have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more during a workday, regardless of whether either person was wearing a face covering. You will need this information for SAFER reporting and required notifications.

2. Strongly encourage the employee/DCC to self-report their positive test.

  Provide the link to Campus Health’s Positive COVID-19 Test website. The website includes an online survey portal to initiate contact tracing and case investigation. Encourage the person to self-report (voluntary). Make clear that their identity and other personal/health information will be kept confidential to the fullest extent possible.

  Give the person an overview of what to expect if/when they self-report. They will be contacted by a case investigator, who will offer advice and help contact close contacts. Case investigators are with the Student Aid for Field Epidemiology Response (SAFER) program, which has been authorized to assist with contact tracing and case investigation.

View contact tracing flowchart (PDF).

3. Explain limited disclosures that will occur.

  Open a discussion about who will need to be notified about a positive test, including the SAFER/local health department contact tracing team. Clarify when personally identifying information will and will not be disclosed.

WILL NOT be disclosed:

  • To workspace colleagues and close contacts (They will only be notified that a positive test occurred).

  • To internal campus units managing campus safety (They will only be notified that a positive test occurred).

WILL be disclosed:

  • If a workplace injury report is submitted (to Risk Management).

  • If consultation is needed on case management (to Human Resources).

4. Report the positive test and make required notifications.

  Report to SAFER here.

  Review required and optional notifications in the section below.

Required Notifications

These required notifications are only required if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

1. Close Contacts.

  Notify close contacts identified by the affected employee that a positive case has been identified in their work area. DO NOT identify the employee or details of their condition.

  Advise close contacts that they will also be contacted by the SAFER program as part of their case investigation and contact tracing process.

  Advise close contacts that work areas will be cleaned and disinfected by Facilities Management.

2. Building Manager (If applicable).

  Notify the Building Manager of the positive test and the potentially affected areas in the building DO NOT identify the employee or details of their condition. The Building Manager will coordinate and follow-up with you about necessary disinfection processes and possible space closures.

  If the Building Manager is unavailable, you will need to make the following contacts.

  • Facilities Management (FM)Without identifying the affected employee, report the positive test to the FM Work Control Desk at 520-621-3000.
  • Department Head(s)Without identifying the affected employee, notify the department head(s) for the affected employee of the positive test. Department heads will coordinate notification to building occupants, Deans, and VPs.

3. Human Resources COVID Response Group (Optional).

  If you feel you need assistance, notify Human Resources by email of a positive test. DO NOT identify the employee or details of their condition. HR’s COVID Response Group can assist with process, regulatory issues, leave and return-to-work issues, and dispute resolution.

4. Risk Management Services (If applicable).

  Only if the employee likely contracted COVID-19 from a workplace exposure, report the positive test as a potential workplace injury via the online reporting portal. The affected individual must be identified in this report.

Employee experiences suspected COVID-19 symptoms

Please practice good judgement in your response to an employee experiencing minor coughs or sniffles and when considering enforcement of the steps in Protocol 2.

1. Strongly encourage testing.

 Encourage the person to contact their healthcare provider of choice (e.g. Campus Health, primary care physician, etc.) for evaluation and/or testing. Campus Health offers testing to individuals experiencing symptoms. They may also use the free Cats TakeAway Testing.

 If they test positive, they must immediately notify you so you can follow the instructions in Protocol 1, Positive Test Protocol.

2. Ensure that the employee/DCC leaves the workplace.

  Advise the employee/DCC to leave the campus workplace, and encourage them to seek healthcare and COVID-19 testing.

Campus Contractors and Vendors

Because contractor and vendor personnel will also be present at University facilities, the University will have notification protocols going in both directions when a positive COVID-19 case is identified involving either a contractor or University personnel. Please review the following actions and responsibilities.

  • Procurement & Contracting Services (PACS) has added new language to purchasing documents and contract templates to require vendors who work at University facilities to follow CDC guidelines.
  • Project managers for PD&C, FM, and others overseeing University projects will advise all current project contractors, JOC firms, renovation contractors, and consultants about the following University expectations.
    • The contractor shall notify the University project manager immediately about positive tests.  The notification shall include where the person worked, recent dates worked, date of onset of symptoms, and any known University personnel contacts two days prior to the onset of symptoms or receipt of a positive test (whichever occurred first).
  • The project manager will notify you if one of your employees may have had contact with an affected contractor or vendor employee.
  • If one of your employees tests positive, and they interact with contractor/vendor personnel, you shall notify any applicable project managers. Your notification should include where the individual worked, recent dates worked, dates of onset of symptoms, and any known contractor personnel contacts two days prior to the onset of symptoms or receipt of a positive test result (whichever occurred first). DO NOT identify the employee or details of their condition.