Recognizing the critical role case management plays in mitigating COVID-19 community spread, Virginia Tech continues to strengthen its COVID-19 case management efforts.

Additional employee case managers, a new Student Advocate program to assist students in on-campus isolation and quarantine spaces, and the adoption of a singular digital case management platform are among new ways Virginia Tech is enhancing COVID-19 support for employees and students.

These strategies will help supplement the rigorous procedures and protocols outlined in the university’s Case Management and Contact Tracing Plan, and help support the well-being and success of students, faculty, and staff. The university has updated its overall plan for spring 2021.  

Virginia Tech Case Management Team members are often the first point of contact for employees and students after they receive a positive COVID-19 test or learn they were in close contact with a positive case.

Representatives from Virginia Tech Emergency ManagementEnvironmental Health and Safety (EHS), Schiffert Health Center, Human ResourcesHokie WellnessDivision of Student Affairs, Housing and Residence Life, Dean of Students Office, and Virginia Tech Athletics make up the Case Management Team. They serve Virginia Tech employees and students across the commonwealth.

The team maintains the university case management system and coordinates on and off-campus quarantine and isolation. Case managers draft notification letters and connect individuals with human resources and academic support as needed.

Medical professionals on the team also act as liaisons to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and local health districts, assisting with outreach to close contacts of positive cases, and helping coordinate further medical evaluations as needed.

In an ever-evolving COVID-19 environment, the Case Management Team meets weekly and stays in continuous communication with VDH and its local health districts that lead the contact tracing process.

Delivering these critical case management activities to the university community requires substantial coordination, communication, and time.

Fortunately, the addition of three new case managers in the coming weeks will help spread out case management administrative and communications functions on the employee side.

“We’re thrilled to have these new team members, who will be fully dedicated to case management, join us. Without a doubt, they will provide a needed boost to our operational capacity. They will also help offer our employees more consistent communications and support, from initial notification of a positive test result or exposure to their ultimate return to work,” said Juliet Dadras, occupational health nurse.

Dadras leads employee case management efforts for EHS. 

To better support students in campus quarantine and isolation spaces, a new Student Advocate Team will help provide virtual support to students during the spring semester. As part of the Student Advocate Team, student-centered employees will serve as case managers, participating in a four-week rotation.

Advocates will work with a caseload of approximately 25 students and serve as a single point of contact to students during a difficult time when they have little to no contact with others. Advocates will check-in virtually with students daily and work with the Dean of Students Office and campus partners to address students’ concerns and needs. They will also help students walk through their options to decide whether they quarantine or isolate on or off-campus. Heather Evans, associate director of learning partnerships within the Division of Student Affairs, will lead the Student Advocate Team.

The program is expected to launch later in January. Student-centered employees interested in getting engaged can learn more here.

“We know how overwhelming it can be for students to navigate the quarantine and isolation process. Student Advocates will play a critical role in fostering a supportive and welcoming environment for students in campus quarantine and isolation spaces. Whether it is coordinating the delivery of a favorite blanket or offering a warm welcome at the start of the process, the little things can provide a lot of comfort to our students,” shared Amanda Eagan, assistant director for academic initiatives for Housing and Residential Life. Eagan is the Housing and Residence Life case management lead.

“We have already received strong interest from employees interested in getting involved in the program to serve their fellow Hokies. This Ut Prosim spirit will be a driving factor in the sustained success of the Student Advocates program.”

The utilization of a singular digital case management platform will also help bolster case management support for the university community. The platform will deliver a singular location for case managers to log updates and notes for each case. It will help improve information-sharing across university stakeholders and automate the intake process. Previously, case managers were using multiple digital systems.  

The efforts of the Case Management Team continue to also be supported by additional departments across campus, including the Office for Equity and Accessibility, the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities, and more.

For the latest updates around case management and the university’s COVID-19 response, visit the Virginia Tech Ready site and follow VT News.

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