Public Health Update For Staff and Faculty

Dear Colleagues:

The Spring semester is upon us and we once again will be starting a semester in the midst of the ever-changing pandemic. While the campus has been planning for the spring semester, the staggering rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19 is a major consideration in our ongoing efforts to keep the campus community safe. As always, the university’s COVID-19 protocols are guided by science and are closely aligned with CDC and Mass Department of Public Health guidelines. The following information reflects our approach given what we understand the situation to be at the current time and is subject to change as the public health situation evolves.

January 2022 Flexibility

While it is understood that many employees will need to work on campus as we prepare for the Spring semester, staff, faculty, and librarians who can successfully work from home and wish to do so through January 25 should consult their supervisors who are advised to be flexible when considering such requests.

Additionally, for January and beyond, the changing nature of the pandemic may result in temporary day care or K-12 school district closings and supervisors should, whenever possible, accommodate employees impacted by these closures.  

Testing

To ensure that everyone knows their baseline status, all faculty and staff should take at least one COVID-19 PCR test by January 18. Observed testing is available at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) on the lower level of the Campus Center. Test kits for unobserved testing are also available at the PHPC. Unobserved tests can be completed in the privacy of your own home and then dropped off at a designated test collection site. UMass follows CDC and new MA DPH guidance on a five-day isolation period for those who test positive but have no symptoms of illness. Those who test positive will be told to isolate for at least five (5) days unless they are experiencing symptoms, which may require a longer isolation period.

Masks

Face coverings continue to be required in all campus buildings regardless of vaccination status. When selecting a mask, we know there are many choices. Ensure the mask has two or more layers, completely covers your nose and mouth, and fits snugly against the sides of your face without any gaps. KN-95 masks and surgical masks are encouraged. Gaiters, single layer cloth masks and masks with vents should not be used.

Boosters

In December, the campus announced that all faculty, staff, and students would be required to get a vaccine booster when they become eligible. If you are eligible and have not already done so, please get boosted! You can make an appointment to get a vaccine booster by identifying a location through the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine finder or Vaccines.gov to find additional sites. Schedule an appointment by visiting the UMass COVID-19 vaccination appointment scheduling page. Appointments will continually be added. Please visit the UMass COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic website for dates of clinics.  
 

Bill Brady
Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer