Published: Sept. 10, 2020

Editor's note: In the source of transmission section, clarifying language was added to the first two bullets about the spread of COVID-19. Also, filtration was added to the fourth bullet with regard to precautions that are in place.

Through the fall semester, campus officials are providing weekly updates, including dashboard stats and items of note on positive cases, isolation, contact tracing, mitigation measures and more

Sources of transmission

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 most likely spreads between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs. These droplets are inhaled or land in the mouths and noses of nearby people.
  • COVID-19 is commonly spread by people who are not showing symptoms. Of the positive cases confirmed so far through on-campus diagnostic testing, a common source of transmission has been: attending a gathering of more than 10 people where attendees do not wear masks and do not maintain a  physical distance of at least 6 feet.
  • We also strongly encourage people to stay at home when experiencing symptoms similar to a mild cold or allergies. In many cases people are continuing with normal activities and testing later determines that the symptoms were due to COVID-19. Limiting potential opportunities for infection to spread is an important way to protect the community.
  • Based on the most recent information from campus contact tracing, there have not yet been transmissions identified from cases where an infectious individual attended an in-person class. Precautions in place with the physical set up of classes include: wearing face coverings, decreased density, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and improved ventilation and filtration.
  • When the contact tracing process finds that an infectious person attended an in-person class, the following steps are taken:
    • The student is asked to provide the course name, section, instructor and date attended and whether public health measures (masking, physical distancing, etc.) were followed in the class.
    • The course information is verified.
    • Beginning this week, instructors will receive a notification when a student who attended class tests positive. This is for awareness only and instructors and department chairs will be notified if any action is needed. Instructors should not alter the manner of instruction for a course without consulting with department chairs.

Reported outbreak

  • According to the state database for COVID-19 outbreaks, Boulder County reported an outbreak at the Pi Beta Phi sorority house in Boulder. The university’s campus contact tracing team is in contact with Boulder County Public Health regarding the outbreak.
  • CU Boulder Medical Services is available to offer medical advice or other services to students as needed, whether they live on campus or in a private residence off campus. The Fraternity & Sorority Life office is in close contact with the impacted chapter to ensure the members are accessing any needed services or support from the university. 
  • According to the information provided by Boulder County Public Health, this is the first outbreak to occur at a sorority or fraternity house in Boulder. Boulder County Public Health is responsible for investigating potential outbreaks off campus, and the university is working closely with the health department.


The current CU Boulder COVID-19-ready dashboard provides information about monitoring and diagnostic testing that occurs on campus.

  • On-campus monitoring and diagnostic testing currently takes place Monday to Friday. Updates are added in the morning with data from the previous day.
  • We have been refining the dashboard to provide more information, including the cumulative number of tests and confirmed positives. We recognize that some of the information on the dashboard requires some explanation, as we’re trying to be as accurate as possible about how we report the results:
    • The CU Boulder dashboard does not include results from testing that CU students, faculty and staff may do through community resources or off-campus medical providers. Only tests that are run through our own testing programs are reported on the dashboard. The results that occur through other testing facilities are reported to the county health departments.
    • The number of diagnostic polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests conducted on campus each day includes, but is not necessarily related to, the referrals for diagnostic testing that occur through the monitoring program. Separate from the referrals from monitoring, individuals who seek testing directly through CU Boulder Medical Services are among those who will be counted in the total number of diagnostic PCR tests administered on campus.
  • To best meet community needs, the dashboard continues to be reviewed for potential changes to what is provided and how the information is presented.

Contact tracing

  • The campus contact tracing team works during the week and on weekends to follow up on positive cases and complete outreach to people who may have been in close contact with an infected individual.
  • For most individuals contacted by the contact tracing team, immediate testing is not recommended when the person contacted is asymptomatic and does not meet the criteria for having been exposed. For asymptomatic individuals identified as exposed to an infected person, the recommendation is to complete a COVID-19 test seven days after the known exposure. This is due to the time it takes a potential infection to be detected through testing.

Latest stats

  • This morning’s dashboard update lists 41 positive diagnostic PCR test results for Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Monitoring and diagnostic testing

  • Monitoring (screening tests, not diagnostic)
    • Monitoring allows CU Boulder to identify potential cases of COVID-19 and inform control measures to help prevent outbreaks. Students living in a residence hall or on-campus apartment are required to be screened once each week at a testing site near their residence hall. The appointment takes about two minutes and students are contacted via email if a diagnostic test is recommended.
    • The university is piloting the expansion of this testing capability beyond on-campus residents.
    • If students are experiencing symptoms, they should not undergo the weekly screening test and instead should contact CU Boulder Medical Services. For questions or more information, contact student COVID-19 monitoring
  • Diagnostic testing
    • Students with symptoms should contact the Public Health Clinic at Wardenburg to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing. Same-day testing is available.
    • Staff, faculty and students contacted through the campus contact tracing team due to possible exposure to COVID-19 will be offered testing for free through the Public Health Clinic at Wardenburg. 
  • Wastewater monitoring
    • The observational network monitoring the wastewater leaving residence halls has resulted in targeted screening tests of specific residence halls. This monitoring will continue. Read more about the wastewater monitoring program.
      • From Sept. 3–9: Residents of the Kittredge Central, Arnett, Buckingham, Smith and Andrews residence halls were notified on Friday, Sept. 4, of the need to get tested if they hadn’t already last week. 

Student conduct

  • As a reminder:
    • If a student is found to have hosted or attended a party or large gathering on or off campus that violates a public health order, the student will be:
      • Excluded from campus for two weeks.
      • Placed on probation.
      • Required to participate in educational sanctions.
    • Multiple or severe violations will result in suspension from CU Boulder for a minimum of one semester.
    • A student who holds a leadership position in an off-campus organization that hosts a party may be charged with aiding and abetting in other individuals’ violations of public health orders and would be subject to the same potential sanctions.
    • If a student is excluded from campus and found to violate the exclusion, the University of Colorado Police Department can issue a criminal trespass ticket and the student will likely be suspended.
  • The Assistant Dean of Students (ADOS) met with two properties this past week and spoke with approximately 15 students, bringing the fall semester total so far to 10 properties and 50 students. One landlord declined to provide tenant information and a second landlord has not responded. The ADOS is reaching out to two more properties that received warnings from the Boulder Police Department this past weekend.
  • The Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution (SCCR) received about 25 summons on Tuesday, Sept. 8, where students were in violation of a public health order. In response, the SCCR issued conduct notices to those students. The number of students going through a conduct process for nuisance parties or noise violations increased to about 55 students. SCCR is prioritizing these cases.  

Food and dining


  • A room reservation system provides students, faculty and staff the ability to reserve space on campus to study, take breaks or join remote classes. 
  • Wi-Fi data
    • The university is exploring the possibility of wireless data to determine density within campus buildings. This information could then be used to help our students, faculty and staff to make better-informed decisions on whether they want to enter a building that may be densely populated. The data could also help us focus awareness outreach or testing efforts.
    • All data is anonymized. There is no plan to utilize this information to track individual movement or large gatherings, and the information does not pick up outdoor activity.