Update on Face Coverings and COVID-19 Testing Protocols for Summer 2021

In a recent email to the campus community, Ann Becker and Jeffrey Hescock, co-directors of the Public Health Promotion Center, shared updated information regarding face coverings and testing protocols on campus.

That email is as follows:

Dear Campus Community,

We are writing to share information regarding face coverings and testing protocols. Throughout the pandemic, UMass Amherst has made its decisions based on state and federal guidance. Governor Charlie Baker recently announced that Massachusetts is on track to have over 4 million citizens vaccinated by June and is a nationwide leader in vaccinating residents to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, effective this Saturday, May 29, the Commonwealth is lifting all remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

UMass will make the following changes to its public health protocols:

Face Coverings

The campus will follow the federal CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated, which states that fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear a mask or physically distance on campus, both outdoors and indoors. You are considered fully vaccinated under these conditions: two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. Fully vaccinated individuals who prefer to continue wearing face coverings are welcome to do so.

Individuals not yet fully vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance. Consistent with this policy, such individuals may remove their face covering only in a private office when alone.

Face coverings will remain mandatory in limited circumstances: for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, PVTA and transportation stations); child care facilities; healthcare facilities such as University Health Services; when getting tested at the Public Health Promotion Center at the Mullins Center; and the UMass Vaccine Clinic in the Campus Center.

We strongly urge all UMass community members to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Walk-up vaccinations as well as appointments are available at the UMass Vaccine Clinic, located on the first floor of the Campus Center. 

Asymptomatic Testing Protocols for Summer 2021

As we enter this new phase in campus operations, the asymptomatic testing program will continue to operate in the summer to monitor conditions as we work to finalize public health plans for the fall. These testing requirements are in place this summer, until further notice, for all faculty, staff and students regardless of their vaccination status:

Asymptomatic Testing Requirements

  • Students who reside on campus are required to be tested twice a week.
  • Students coming to campus for face-to-face classes, research labs or work are required to be tested once a week.
  • Graduate students coming to campus are required to get tested once a week.
  • Faculty who are teaching or conducting research on campus are required to be tested weekly.
  • Staff who regularly work on campus are required to be tested weekly.

The university is working on a process for individuals (faculty, staff and students) to verify their vaccination status in order to be exempt from participating in the asymptomatic testing program. When this process is implemented, we will adjust the asymptomatic testing requirements noted above.

The UMass asymptomatic testing program is conducted at the Public Health Promotion Center located at the Mullins Center on a walk-in basis or by appointment. Community Testing will continue to be available for the general public. Individuals not required to be tested as part of the protocols listed above are encouraged to continue to test. 

The testing center’s summer hours are:

Monday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All adults and children ages 4 and older without symptoms of COVID-19 are eligible for testing. No appointments are required during the summer.

Sincerely,

Co-Directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC)

Ann Becker, Public Health Director

Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety