Public Health

Public Health

Public Health Promotion Center

We recommend continuing with the structure of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC), which has served as the central coordinating department for the COVID-19 response to the pandemic. The PHPC provides asymptomatic testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation services, and vaccine administration.

Vaccinations

We strongly encourage and recommend all students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible. Throughout the pandemic, the university has followed the science, which led to health and safety protocols that protected our campus. The science is clear that vaccination is the best way to stop COVID-19 from spreading and our best way to continue protecting each other’s wellbeing.

We recommend in the strongest terms that the university require that all students be vaccinated prior to the beginning of the fall semester, subject to vaccine availability. Faculty and staff will be strongly recommended to be vaccinated. As with other institutions of higher education, we await final state, federal, and legal guidance.

Medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated, but the expectation is that our campuses and classrooms will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals, greatly reducing the risk of infection for all.

  • Current expectations are that there will be enough vaccines available so that all individuals can be vaccinated by the fall semester.
  • The PHPC should continue operating a vaccine clinic to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to students, faculty, and staff and individuals who are not able to obtain vaccination prior to arrival for the fall semester. Individuals in these groups will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible.
  • We recommend establishing a team to develop and maintain a data collection system for students, faculty, and staff to notify the university with proof of vaccination. These data are critical for the university to make informed decisions on the extent of community protection from COVID-19.
  • If unable to mandate the vaccine, we should strongly encourage all to get vaccinated and develop incentives for students to get vaccinated; these incentives could affect access to the recreation center, student activities, and dining. Individuals not vaccinated should be required to participate in our asymptomatic testing program.

Testing

  • We recommend exploring pre-arrival testing for students only.
  • We recommend exploring the expansion of the Wastewater Based Epidemiology testing, as an early warning system for adaptive testing.  
  • We recommend instituting mandatory adaptive testing protocols when circumstances warrant.
  • Individuals who are not vaccinated should be required to participate in the UMass asymptomatic testing program. Individuals who are vaccinated may be required to participate in UMass asymptomatic testing as public health circumstances warrant.
  • Asymptomatic test analysis should be done through the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) Clinical Testing Center with additional capacity through the Broad Institute if needed, while symptomatic testing should continue to be performed by University Health Services.

Green Checkmark

  • Every member of the UMass community has a role to play in maintaining a healthy and safe campus. Toward that end, all individuals should be required to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements (if in place) and COVID-19 testing frequency requirements. To demonstrate compliance with these requirements, the campus should continue to use the green checkmark via the Campus Health Hub.

University Public Health Messaging Campaign

  • We recommend establishing a campaign to encourage vaccination. The campaign should address staff, students, and faculty.
  • We recommend continuing with the extensive public health campaign with the taglines “It’s Hard But It Helps” and “It’s Weird But It Works.” The messages should continue to be geared towards on- and off-campus students as well as faculty and staff – with the focus on key public health measures, such as the importance of social distancing, vaccinations, face coverings, testing, and contact tracing.

 General

  • We recommend establishing guidelines for campus events and gatherings.
  • We should follow Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines regarding face coverings, social distancing, size of gatherings, etc.
  • We recommend setting aside a limited amount of campus residential space for quarantine and isolation.
  • The policy on external visitors to campus should be reviewed and adapted.
  • We recommend reviewing and updating as necessary the interim pandemic policy.