If you’re one of the millions of people who have either lost their jobs during the pandemic, or have had your hours or workload reduced, you may have considered applying to be a contact tracer . If this is the case—or if you’re just curious about how the process works—you can now enroll in a free online course on contact tracing through Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Here’s what you need to know.
How to sign up
Starting today, anyone can take the five-hour course on Coursera. It’s a beginner-level class with flexible deadlines, and you get a certificate at the end of it. It will focus on the principles of the public health strategy that many consider critical for slowing the spread of COVID-19. The course is in English, with subtitles in English, Spanish and Portuguese (Brazilian).
Here’s the course description:
The COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented need for contact tracing across the country, requiring thousands of people to learn key skills quickly. The job qualifications for contact tracing positions differ throughout the country and the world, with some new positions open to individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent.
In this introductory course, students will learn about the science of SARS-CoV-2, including the infectious period, the clinical presentation of COVID-19, and the evidence for how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted from person-to-person and why contact tracing can be such an effective public health intervention. Students will learn about how contact tracing is done, including how to build rapport with cases, identify their contacts, and support both cases and their contacts to stop transmission in their communities. The course will also cover several important ethical considerations around contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Finally, the course will identify some of the most common barriers to contact tracing efforts—along with strategies to overcome them.
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The instructor for the course is Emily Gurley, PhD, MPH, an associate scientist in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. If you’d like to learn more about what the class covers, here is the syllabus.
“Even if you stop one or two new infections, you’re preventing many new cases down the line,” Gurley said in a statement.