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Governors State Partners with Black Public Health Experts


Online course offers Contact Tracing Training

By Beverly Reed Scott

Contact tracing could provide a silver lining in an otherwise dark and stormy cloud of joblessness for Illinoisans. Several prominent African American Public Health experts have designed a Contact Tracing Investigator online training course in partnership with Governors State University.

Dr. Tonya Roberson e1592492010293
Dr. Tonya Roberson

“Contact tracing will bring jobs to Illinois and we want African Americans to be prepared to apply and be hired for those positions,” said Dr. Tonya Roberson. Roberson focuses on health education and disease prevention strategies to promote improving the quality-of-care and quality-of-life of persons coping with a life-threatening illness.

The Director of Community Engagement, Program Development and Academic Success/Adjunct Faculty in the College of Health and Human Services, Roberson has over 15 years of biobehavioral and social sciences research experience with extensive recruitment and selection capability experience.

Case investigation and contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.

Public health professionals say immediate action is needed, communities must scale up and train a large workforce and work collaboratively across public and private agencies to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Marcus Murray, MPH, is the Executive Director and Founder of Project Brotherhood, a Black men’s health clinic in Chicago, and helped create the online course.

“This course provides an overview of the contact tracing process to meet the demand of the growing public health workforce for Contact Tracers.”

Murray explained further, “The course will provide training on the basics of disease transmission, the principles behind case isolation and quarantine of contacts as a public health measure, the ethics around public health data collection and use, risk communication, cultural sensitivity, and the basics of data collection for COVID 19 contact tracing.”

Contact tracing has helped slow or stop previous epidemics, such as the SARS and Ebola outbreaks. But it has never been more critical — or more challenging — than in this fight against coronavirus according to Holly Yan in a recent CNN report.

contact tracing
(Katie Lepri / WLRN)

Training varies in different cities with some health agencies offering courses requiring anywhere from eight to 20 hours of instruction and some requiring additional in person training.

Contact Tracers will need to employ many skills in their efforts to gather information from weary and wary citizens.

“In contact tracing, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Linda Rae Murray M.D. MPH, F.A.C.P. is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and the third architect of the innovative online course.

Murray’s extensive knowledge and experience includes serving as Bureau Chief for the Chicago Department of Health. Murray has been an active member of a wide range of local and national organizations.

The e-course will provide an overview on how to assess relevant symptoms; investigate and follow up with contacts.

According to the course description students will become knowledgeable about cultural sensitivity and humility as well as how to help contacts navigate the public health and healthcare systems in the jurisdictions in which they are working.

They will also receive basic knowledge about data collection and management however specific training modules for local processes will have to be developed locally.

This is a self-paced online course; each student is responsible for setting the pace to study and complete the course materials independently rather than following a structure set by an instructor. Class began June 3; registration will remain open until June 26 for the self-paced online course.

The course requires 24 hours of online instruction, and can be completed in as few as two days but must be completed by July 3. The link for students to register for GSU’s Contact Tracing Course is:

The course fee is $265.00.

A second session is planned to start after July 4.

For more information on the COVID-19 CONTACT TRACING: Changing the Face of Public Health Workforce course contact Governors State University, Attn: Dr. Tonya Roberson via email at [email protected] and/or Michelle Sebasco by phone at 708.235.3983 or email at [email protected].

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