Georgia Southern’s CARES team during COVID-19

Georgia Southern's CARES team during COVID-19

Credit: Georgia Southern

Abby Fuller, Daily Managing Editor

STATESBORO — Georgia Southern launched the COVID-19 Answers, Resources, Evaluation and Self-reporting (CARES) Center on July 27 as part of the university reopening plan for the fall semester.

The CARES Center is available for faculty, staff and students and serves a variety of functions related to COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Who is the CARES team?

The CARES Center consists of university employees who have been reassigned to the center from other duties on campus, according to Shay Little, vice president of student affairs.

Many of the employees are graduate students, but they come from a variety of backgrounds and majors, not just public health. Most of the employees working in the CARES Center are now doing that full time, according to Little.

Service center

One aspect of the CARES Center is the main service center that can be reached by phone or email Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Faculty, staff and students can contact the CARES Center with questions regarding COVID-19, whether that’s about the overall GS response to the pandemic or about resources available for those who have been exposed to the virus. The service center consists of two teams, one for employees and one for students, according to Little.

The phone number for the CARES Center is 912-478-CARE, and the email address is [email protected]

Self-reporting form

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, suspect that you have it based on symptoms or have been notified that you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, there is a self-reporting form that can be accessed through the MyGeorgiaSouthern portal.

The form consists of questions about symptoms, when and where you were diagnosed, who you’ve been in contact with and GS campus activities or classes you have attended since either two days before your symptoms began or two days before you received a positive diagnosis, if you had no symptoms.

Contact notification team

The contact notification team works to notify people who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has reported that they tested positive. This supports the contact tracing being done by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

All members of the contact notification team have gone through training to learn how to reach out to individuals who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive.

“There’s a Johns Hopkins University contact tracing course that I’ve taken and gotten the certification as well, too, and that provides a lot of good information for those individuals who are reaching out to students,” Little said.

What happens when you test positive for COVID-19?

Students who live on campus are told to go home and self-isolate when they test positive, according to Little.

“We also recommend students who need to quarantine go home first,” Little said. “We do have some spaces available in Statesboro and in Armstrong for students to self isolate, or quarantine, if needed.”

Meal deliveries can be arranged for students who have a meal plan. The CARES Center can also assist off-campus students who may not have a meal plan.

“We’re working with off campus students,” Little said. “Sometimes that may mean they might not be on a meal plan, but they may need something from our food pantry for instance.”

The CARES Center also notifies instructors when one of their students has tested positive for COVID-19 so that they can make the necessary accommodations for that student.

Little added that students have expressed concern about filling out the self-reporting form because of fear of getting in trouble.

“I really want to emphasize we encourage people to fill out that report,” Little said. “We want to know when you fall in one of these three categories. We want to know how we can help you manage.”