Albion College to have student contact tracers

ALBION, Mich. (WOOD) — As many colleges plan to return to in-person instruction this fall, some are training their own contact tracers to deal with possible COVID-19 outbreaks.

Albion College is training students studying in the medical field to work as contact tracers on campus.

Brad Rabquer, director of the Lisa and James Wilson Institute for Medicine, says 18 students have received training so far, and two more are getting certified through programs in their hometowns.

“Contact tracing is one of the tried and true methods of public health,” Rabquer said.

The certified tracers will be able to reach out over the phone to help track a potential outbreak and limit the spread of the virus.

“They’re used to working with patients and have HIPA certifications and so, therefore, they are ready to take their next step and serve as contact tracers for our community,” Rabquer said.

Albion is also receiving a more than $7.5 million gift from the estate of former student Robert Richmond.

The money will help families financially devastated by COVID-19 with scholarships and will cover some pandemic expenses to assistant with the return to campus this fall.

Rabquer says the college will also have testing available as part of its broader plan.

“Students, faculty, and staff are all going through training modules to help them better understand the virus, the pandemic and the response and what we all have to do collectively to make a safe reopening of campus,” Rabquer said.

Working as a contact tracer can sometimes be challenging.

“Contact tracing is certainly difficult, having to work with folks to build that trust that you’re not going to give the information to someone that shouldn’t have it. You’re not going to divulge private health information, and so the students are trained in these areas,” Rabquer said.

The college is planning to increase the number of certified tracers.

“We anticipate that growing to 60 students up through the spring semester of 2021,” Rabquer said.