The daily self assessment explained
A total of 25 COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, and staff present on campus have been reported by Carnegie Mellon since the university began testing in March, with an additional 51 testing positive off-campus. The university has attempted to keep case numbers low by testing random samples of students in the Pittsburgh area, asking students to follow CDC guidelines, and monitoring students’ symptoms with the Daily Self-Assessment survey.
One of the criteria for students attending Carnegie Mellon this semester is the completion of the daily self assessment. Students must comply with mandatory testing protocols, respond to contact tracing, and obtain a seasonal flu vaccine. It is a requirement that students contribute to the prevention and monitoring of COVID-19 in and around the Tartan community, as stated in A Tartan’s Responsibility.
For students, the daily-self assessment is a brief survey of three questions asking whether one has recently had close contact with someone with COVID-19, with two of those asking about one’s current symptoms and temperature. The faculty and staff daily assessment survey adds one question, asking if one plans to be on campus that day. Students are expected to take the survey before starting their day, and the university has written that it is a student’s responsibility to do so. To ensure that students complete the survey, students receive a text message and an email each morning at 7 a.m. with a hyperlink to the daily self-assessment.
So far, Carnegie Mellon University has seen a steady rise in the number of students who have completed the survey. According to a statement provided to The Tartan by university spokesperson Julie Mattera, around three-quarters of all students reply to the survey, but not necessarily on a regular basis. Because of this, the university has begun sending reminders to students who have not been regularly completing the survey, expecting an increase in day-to-day compliance. “Failure to complete the survey is a violation of A Tartan’s Responsibility,” Mattera wrote. If a student continually fails to adhere to the COVID-19 rules set by the university, they are “subject to university action, which may include revocation of on-campus privileges and action regarding student misconduct.”
“The Daily Self-Assessment is an important element in CMU’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy. The survey is recommended by public health experts and is meant to help members of the community remember to regularly monitor for physical symptoms, isolate if they are feeling ill, and contact healthcare providers proactively,” Mattera stated.
“Data from the survey is used in a few ways,” Mattera wrote, “compliance data is reviewed by leadership as one indicator in the University's effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” She added that “aggregated data showing increases in reported symptoms or close contact experiences help university staff identify early signs of the potential spread of the virus in the community.”
The data obtained from these surveys is collected and stored by the university and accessed by University Health Services (UHS). The university is tracking log-ins to the survey to “to determine whether students have completed the form,” according to Mattera. However, the answers to the survey’s questions remain anonymous. Therefore, it is the duty of students who answer "yes" to any of the questions of the daily self-assessment to contact UHS so that the university can take proper action to prevent the spread of the virus.
The measures taken by Carnegie Mellon are an attempt to take effective steps toward countering the spread of the virus and keeping the number of cases low. According to the university, “Adhering to these responsibilities is critical to maintaining a healthy living, learning, and working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic”.