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Credit and non-credit options now available for online course on COVID-19 contact tracing

The West Virginia University School of Public Health and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health are partnering on an initiative to recruit participants for a newly developed online course, Contact Tracing and Pandemic Response.

Launched earlier this month, this course aims to train a ready pool of public health investigators in West Virginia. Now available as both a free, non-credit course for volunteers and as a credit bearing course for students, all participants who complete the training are required to assist with contact tracing efforts as needed throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

Ideal volunteers include members of the National Guard and anyone assisting the DHHR or local health departments, though enrollment is open to all with an interest in serving their communities, especially those representing or serving vulnerable populations, such as racial and ethnic minorities, anyone housed in a crowded or group living arrangement, and those living with chronic illness. Ideal traits in contact tracers include attention to detail, cultural awareness and supportive communication skills.

Senior undergraduate and graduate level students in public health, health professional programs and related fields are highly encouraged to consult with their academic mentors if activities in this course could count towards required clinical or service hours. The credit bearing option for students is now offered during the WVU summer semester beginning on May 18, and all practical activities associated with the course will be tracked in iServe.

Didactic modules of the course include Basics of Infectious Disease Epidemiology with Reference to COVID-19; General Overview of COVID-19 Testing; Infection Control Measures for COVID-19; Public Health Surveillance; Motivational Interviewing; Confidentiality; and practical training in contact tracing using standardized methods developed by DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. This portion of the course runs approximately one week, and participants are expected to be able to dedicate at least two to three hours per day to complete course material. 

A capstone project connects each participant with a health department to complete contact tracings under supervision and is required for all participants. 

Anyone wishing to enroll must register online. For more information on the course, contact Joanna DiStefano at Joanna.DiStefano@hsc.wvu.edu.  

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