Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Updated July 7, 2020

2020 Reopening Plan: Health and Safety

Go to FAQs about Health and Safety

The university is using the best science and public health information available to protect members of the campus community; efforts are focused on mitigating the risk of infection and spread of the virus. We are relying upon the guidance and direction of the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local, state, and federal health and medical professionals in setting our campus reopening and return to campus plans, and in determining the elements of our reopening and return to campus plans.

walking in fallOur newly created Public Health Promotion Center will serve as the campus coordinating and operational hub for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Its focus is to positively influence public health behaviors, provide critical health screening, and monitor protocols to maintain the health and wellness of our campus community.

As part of these efforts, we are implementing a multi-layered approach to deter the spread of the virus, help protect our campus, and allow us to rapidly respond when faculty, staff, or students present symptoms or test positive for the virus.

Fall 2020: A Multi-Layered Approach to Campus Health and Safety

1. The Public Health Promotion Center

The university is taking a leading and innovative approach by creating a Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) to positively influence the public health behaviors surrounding COVID-19 and provide critical health screening and monitoring protocols to maintain the health and wellness of our campus community. The PHPC will serve as the central coordinating and operational center for COVID-19 and focus on the following: asymptomatic testing (symptomatic testing will be conducted at University Health Services); contact tracing; coordinating isolation and quarantine; flu vaccinations; and communication outreach focused on health promotion with public health ambassadors.

2. Public Health Promotion Measures

  • Students will be required to sign The UMass Agreement in regard to social distancing and other public health practices.
  • Face coverings are required in classrooms, workspaces, and all other common areas, indoors and in any outdoor situation where social distancing is not possible.
  • Appropriate barriers – plexiglass and other similar materials – will be established in high-volume areas.
  • Sanitation and cleaning will be enhanced in buildings throughout the campus, and adequate hand sanitizer products will be made available in all common spaces (lobbies, lounges, academic learning centers, and classrooms).
  • UMass Dining operations will be modified to meet new state requirements for cleaning, social distancing, and customer limits. More than 30 campus locations will be revamped. The plan includes new grab-and-go sites, outdoor dining tents and mobile ordering at some retail locations.
  • Workplaces, meeting rooms, and research laboratories will have modified occupancy.  Additionally, residence halls may have modified occupancy.
  • Students will follow classroom operating guidelines that include:
    • Requiring students/faculty to watch an education video prior to the first day of classes on the public health measures in place for the classrooms/laboratories
    • Require students/faculty to wipe down chairs, other commonly touched surfaces, etc. at the start of every class
    • Require face coverings in class
    • No eating or drinking in class
    • Assigned seating, where appropriate

3. Daily Screening for All

  • Faculty, students, and staff will use either the My UMass app or another application.
  • Faculty, students, and staff must conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room.
  • A student who does not live in UMass housing must be free of any symptoms related to COVID-19 to be on campus or participate in activities on campus.

4. Testing

  • In line with current, best scientific practices, UMass will prioritize diagnostic testing and will continue to follow the development of antibody testing for potential use.
  • UMass will execute a screening and testing strategy that mitigates community spread through early identification.
  • Individuals coming to campus will be tested prior to arrival.  
  • Individuals who have any of the symptoms related to COVID-19 will be promptly tested by University Health Services. Individuals who are determined to be a close contact of an individual testing positive will also receive testing.
  • Infection rates will be monitored on campus and in the surrounding communities.

5. Contact Tracing

  • UMass is expanding its case management team, using all relevant departments that provide contact tracing, support services, and coordination of quarantine and isolation. This team will be trained and available to support the campus community.
  • To help determine the risk of potential exposure to others on campus, the UMass Public Health Team will conduct contact tracing with any campus individual who has tested positive.
  • The UMass Public Heath Team will have a dedicated phone number and caller ID, and will actively promote “Answer the Call” to help protect the UMass community.

6. Isolation and Quarantine

The CDC defines isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, and quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

  • Our plan for UMass residence halls for fall 2020 is focused on COVID-19 conditions, meaning we have identified quarantine and isolation locations for our on-campus residential community and will de-densify residential spaces to provide housing that is as safe as possible. 
  • The university is committed to supporting all students during any required isolation and quarantine. This includes contact tracing, academic support, health services, and counseling services.
  • All students living on campus will be required to have an isolation and quarantine plan. For those students who can travel in a private vehicle, we strongly recommend isolation and quarantine in the comfort of your own home. For those students living on-campus and cannot travel home, the university will have dedicated isolation and quarantine space.
  • Students living off campus will be encouraged to have an isolation and quarantine plan. The university will provide support services in your off-campus location or at your home. The university will not provide on-campus isolation and quarantine space.
  • All students in isolation and quarantine, both on- and off-campus, will receive a daily wellness call.
  • Students in isolation or quarantine will be encouraged to continue their coursework remotely.
  • The university Public Health Team and/or local board of health have legal authority to issue isolation or quarantine orders, and such orders must be followed at all times.

7. Required Education for All

  • COVID-19 safety training is mandatory and includes instruction on physical distancing, wearing of face coverings, hand hygiene, and sanitation.
  • A campus-wide approach is being developed to ensure consistent messaging.

8. High-risk Individuals Are Encouraged to Continue Remote Work and Study

 

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Health and Safety

What happens if an employee becomes ill while working from an alternative site?

Should employees become ill or otherwise be unavailable to perform work, they are required to enter accrued time for absences from work duties during those times and notifying their supervisor.

What strategies will be used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

Seven core actions are being implemented: required education for all; daily self-screening for all; enhanced cleaning; increased testing and tracing capabilities; arranging for high-risk individuals to study and work remotely; increased mental health support; and use of face coverings and physical distancing.

When I arrive on campus, what preventive public health measures will be in place?

Key prevention measures include:

  • Students will be required to make a promise to respect social distancing and other public health practices.
  • Face coverings are required in classrooms, workspaces and all other common areas, both indoors and outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
  • Appropriate barriers — plexiglass and other similar materials — will be established in high-volume areas.
  • Sanitation and cleaning will be enhanced in buildings throughout the campus, and adequate hand sanitizer products will be made available in all common spaces (lobbies, lounges, academic learning centers and classrooms).
  • Residence halls, workplaces, meeting rooms and research laboratories will have modified occupancy.

What is the Daily Screening?

Faculty, staff and students must conduct symptom self-monitoring every day before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room. Students (on or off campus) will be required to use the COVID-19 symptom checklist through University Health Services’ secure patient portal (Medicat Connect). Faculty and staff can use the My UMass app.

Who gets tested for COVID-19 and when?

Our screening and testing strategy is designed to mitigate community spread through early identification. Prior to arrival on campus, individuals will be tested for the virus. Individuals with even minimal symptoms will be promptly tested by University Health Services. Asymptomatic individuals with close contact exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual will also be promptly tested. Infection rates will be monitored on campus and in the surrounding communities.

Does UMass have a contact tracing program?

Yes, to determine the risk of potential exposure to others on campus the UMass Public Health Team will conduct contact tracing per Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines on any individual who has tested positive. The team will have a dedicated phone number and caller ID, and it will actively promote its “Answer the Call” program to protect the UMass community.

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

The Centers for Disease Control define isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease (such as COVID-19) from people who are not sick, and quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

What happens if a student or their friends test positive for COVID-19?

All students living on campus are required to have an isolation and quarantine plan. For students who can travel in a private vehicle, we strongly recommend isolation and quarantine in the comfort of your own home. For students living on-campus who cannot travel home, the university has set aside dedicated isolation and quarantine space. Those students will be provided food and essential items.

All students living off campus will be strongly encouraged to have an isolation and quarantine plan. The university will provide support services in your off-campus location or at your home. The university will not provide on-campus isolation and quarantine space.

What support do students get if they are in isolation or quarantine?

UMass is committed to supporting all students during any required isolation and quarantine. This includes contact tracing, academic support, health services and counseling services. All students in isolation and quarantine, both on- and off-campus, will receive a daily wellness call.

Will residence halls reopen?

(Updated July 9, 2020) Yes, UMass Amherst will reopen as a residential campus. Testing and social distancing protocols will be in place, and we will house a substantial number of students. A combination of assignment styles will be available. A no-guests-allowed policy will be enforced to maintain best social distancing practices.

How will face-to-face instruction be conducted?

The occupancy of classrooms will be modified to maintain social distancing, including assigned seating where appropriate. Before the start of each class, students and faculty must wipe down their chairs and any other commonly touched surfaces. Students are required to wear face coverings. There is no eating or drinking in class. An educational video is being produced that will detail the public health measures in place for classrooms and laboratories.

How will you reduce density in classrooms?

Classrooms and study spaces will have diagrams depicting the reduced seating capacity for each space, including designated areas for instructors and required space between students to ensure appropriate social distancing. Room locations for some courses may be reassigned to meet public health standards. Signs will be posted to explain appropriate ways to enter and exit, as well as reminders about preventive health practices.

How will meals be served?

UMass Dining operations will be modified to meet new state requirements for cleaning, social distancing, customer limits and modified indoor seating. More than 30 campus locations will be revamped. The plan includes new grab-and-go sites, outdoor dining tents and mobile ordering at some retail locations. To protect public health, buffet-style service will be prohibited.

What kind of campus events will be held this fall?

Social distancing is the best defense against the spread of COVID-19, so the focus will be on providing a wide variety of virtual events. Co-curricular programming will be virtual and inclusive of remote students. Large events are currently prohibited in Massachusetts, affecting Registered Student Organizations, athletics, the performing arts and other activities. As Massachusetts continues its phased reopening, some restrictions may be lifted.

Can I meet with a counselor?

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) is in the process of developing special services for students. To ensure safety and accessibility, CCPH will continue to offer teletherapy throughout the fall 2020 semester. Additionally, students will have daily opportunities to speak with a counselor for both urgent and routine concerns. Visit the CCPH website for the latest updates.

Tell me about the specifics on COVID-19 testing and what I can expect after the test?

The university has created a detailed guide on what you can expect in the testing process, and what’s involved in follow-up steps. We encourage you to review it closely to prepare for the fall semester.

Will students from out of state need to self-quarantine?

On July 1, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued new travel restrictions instructing travelers arriving to Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey are exempt from these restrictions. The university is closely monitoring these travel restrictions and how they may impact students arriving for the fall semester. Additional guidance for students arriving from impacted locations will be provided later in July.

If a student living on campus gets infected, will the student’s parents be asked to pick them up and bring them home?

If a student’s parent is able to come to campus to pick them up, that is our recommendation so the student can isolate in the comfort of their home. If a parent cannot pick up their student, the university has set aside dedicated isolation and quarantine space.