Supervisor Procedures When an Employee has Contracted, Exhibits Symptoms of, or has been Exposed to COVID-19

This page provides action steps and guidance to supervisors to take when the University learns that an employee has contracted, is exhibiting symptoms of, or has been exposed to COVID-19.  It is important for the supervisor to remain calm, follow the steps outlined below, and be sure not to disclose the identity of anyone who has tested positive, as this information is considered private medical information that must remain confidential. Be mindful to remain compassionate and empathetic when communicating with the employee. 


Per Rhode Island state requirement, Brown will inform the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) of cases, and the RIDOH will make appropriate notification of contacts of positive cases.  The RIDOH will then communicate directly with all individuals who are deemed to be at risk given contact with a diagnosed individual in Rhode Island.  Do not attempt to conduct contact tracing or communicate with other members of the University community yourself.

If an employee informs you that they have contracted or have symptoms of COVID-19

Within 24 hours:

Inform the employee of the following:

  • that they should not report to work, or if the employee has reported to work, to leave work, and contact University Human Resources (UHR), their medical provider, and seek testing as soon as possible. 
  • that you will contact UHR Leave Administration at [email protected] or 401-441-4765 to report the employee’s situation.
  • that they should contact UHR Leave Administration at [email protected] to discuss time off or request a paid special leave as soon as possible. Further details on UHR’s leave administration process to address COVID-19 situations can be found at: Leave Administration Process for Employees who have contracted COVID-19, Exhibit Symptoms of, or Have Been Exposed to COVID-19
  • that you will not share personally identifiable information regarding the employee to other offices unless it’s a UHR representative. You will inform Facilities Management or other Brown occupied property managers that there is a positive case in an office, floor, or building so that preparations can be made to clean the facility as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Additional details on the process to determine cleaning a workspace.
  • that they cannot return to work or campus for a minimum of 10 days while in isolation.
  • that upon completion of their isolation, they will need to submit medical documentation clearing them to return to work to UHR-Leave Administration at [email protected]. The documentation should be remitted with as much advance notice as possible and at a minimum of 24 hours prior to their return. Further details on CDC’s guidance can be found here.
  • that, if asked, they should be readily available to share with their healthcare provider or the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) all names of work colleagues, students, known visitors, and other members of the University community who may have been in contact with the employee during the 48 hours before symptom onset.
  • that if they reside in another state (MA, CT, etc.), they will be contacted by an agency, at the request of the RIDOH, to share names of work colleagues, students, known visitors, and other members of the University community who may have been in contact with the employee during the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.
  • that they are required to comply with all RIDOH and CDC requirements, including, but not limited to, appropriate self-quarantine timeframes.

Within 48 hours:

  • Determine how work will be distributed during the employee’s absence.
  • Inform remaining staff receiving work assignments due to the employee’s absence only that the employee will be out of the office and state the anticipated date of return to work. Do not disclose the reason for the absence.

Communication Guidance

To protect the privacy rights of every employee, if you have to discuss a COVID-19 case or exposure case, please call UHR-Leave Administration at 401-441-4765. If email is the mode of communication used, all emails must be sent securely through Virtru using only the employee’s Workday ID number and sent directly to UHR [email protected]. The preferred method of communication in these cases is the phone instead of email.

If an employee informs you of exposure to COVID-19

If an employee has informed you that they have been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of a communication from the RIDOH, documentation from a healthcare provider, or has a household member in need of quarantine, take the following steps immediately:

Within 24 hours:

Inform the employee of the following:

  • that they should not report to work, or if the employee has reported to work, to leave work, and contact UHR.
  • that you will contact UHR Leave Administration at [email protected] or 401-441-4765 to report the employee’s situation.
  • that they should contact UHR-Leave Administration at [email protected] to discuss time off or request a paid special leave as soon as possible. Further details on UHR’s leave administration process to address COVID-19 situations can be found at: Leave Administration Process for Employees who have contracted COVID-19, Exhibit Symptoms of, or Have Been Exposed to COVID-19
  • that you will not share personally identifiable information regarding the employee with other departments unless it is with a UHR representative.  You will inform Facilities Management or other Brown occupied property managers only that there is a quarantine case in an office, floor, or building so that preparations can be made to clean the facility as recommended by the CDC. Additional details on the process to determine cleaning a workspace.
  • that they cannot return to work or campus for a minimum of 14 days after last exposure in accordance with CDC and state guidelines.
  • that even if they submit documentation to return to work prior to the end of the 14-day period, Brown is following the guidance of public health experts (the RIDOH and the CDC) and that a 14-day period of quarantine is required before they can return to work.  Further details on CDC’s guidance can be found here.
  • that, if asked, they should have information ready to share with their healthcare provider and/or the RIDOH of names of work colleagues, known visitors, and other members of the University community who may have been in contact with the employee during the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms or as otherwise directed by a RIDOH representative.
  • that if they reside in another state (MA, CT, etc.), they will be contacted by an agency, at the request of RIDOH, to share names of work colleagues, known visitors, and other members of the University community who may have been in contact with the employee during the 48 hours before symptom onset as otherwise directed by a RIDOH or RIDOH requested agency representative.

Within 48 hours:

  • Determine how work will be distributed during the employee’s absence.
  • Inform remaining staff receiving work assignments due to the employee’s absence only that the employee will be out of the office and state the anticipated date of return to work. Do not disclose the reason for the absence.

Communication Guidance

To protect the privacy rights of every employee, if you have to discuss a COVID-19 case or exposure case, please call UHR-Leave Administration at 401-441-4765. If email is the mode of communication used, all emails must be sent securely through Virtru using only the employee’s Workday ID number and sent directly to UHR [email protected]. The preferred method of communication in these cases is the phone instead of email.

To reassure employees who are concerned about contracting or being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace

  • Remind the employee that the University is carefully monitoring updates and implementing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), public health and medical experts, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and federal, state, and local governments.
  • Encourage the employee to review the information on the Brown COVID-19 webpage at covid.brown.edu where all University updates are located.
  • Remind the employee that anyone who has a health condition that would put them at high risk if they became ill with COVID-19, can apply to continue working remotely or to seek other workplace accommodations. Managers should encourage employees seeking reasonable accommodations for Alternative Work Arrangements (AWA) to contact UHR-Employee and Labor Relations by email at [email protected].

COVID-19 Testing

On June 17, 2020 the University announced that testing will be performed for employees working on campus for all of their scheduled work hours or for part of their scheduled work hours.  Additional information can be found here.

Additional Information and Resources

For additional information on the Brown Workforce, COVID-19 Guidance and Guidelines, Workplace Safety, and Resources please visit the University Human Resources Manager Toolkit.

If additional information is needed, please contact University Human Resources at [email protected].

Note: This process has been created as a result of CDC and RIDOH guidance due to COVID-19.  As with all processes and procedures, this process may change as the University’s reopening plans continue to develop in accordance with federal and state laws in addition to public health guidance.