Spring 2023 Health Information for Faculty and Staff
Our campus public health preparations and protocols for the spring semester remain the same as our approach during the fall semester.
Throughout the pandemic, the university’s policies and protocols have been based on federal CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance, and that practice will continue as we monitor local conditions and circumstances this spring. Below is a list of frequently asked questions related to Sprign 2023. This information was updated February 1, 2023.
Testing Requirements and Vaccination Information
Q1: Where can I get more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, testing, and impacts on Spring 2023?
A: Please check the UMass Amherst COVID-19 FAQs for detailed information about the above topics.
Q2: What will testing requirements be for Spring 2023 for employees?
A: Students, faculty, staff and members of their households who need testing due to symptoms, being exposed, or having close contact with someone who has COVID-19 can either take an antigen (at-home) test or visit University Health Services (UHS) for a PCR test. Students, faculty and staff should continue to report their positive test results to testing [at] umass [dot] edu. Elective PCR testing (such as testing for travel) is available for $25 per test at UHS, a price significantly lower than is offered by pharmacies and other providers.
More information regarding campus testing protocols can be found at the University's COVID-19 Testing Programs website. These requirements will be updated in accordance with federal and state guidelines as necessary.
Q3: Should we continue to check for symptoms of COVID-19 each day?
A: Everyone must continue to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms each day before coming to campus. Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask, stay home, and get tested.
Q5: Is it a requirement to be vaccinated?
A: Employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which includes receiving a booster shot when eligible. Employees may be vaccinated at the site of their choice, the University continues to make vaccines available to faculty, staff, and students on the Amherst campus.
Q6: Am I required to get a booster shot in addition to my original vaccination?
A: In December 2021, the campus announced that all faculty, staff, and students would be required to get a vaccine booster when they become eligible. IThe university highly recommends that all faculty, staff and students get vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible. The Pfizer and Moderna Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines are readily available on campus at the PHPC vaccine clinic located on the lower level of the Campus Center. 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.
A: Employees who are on a pre-approved leave (e.g. parental leave, sabbatical) and will not be accessing campus are not required to be vaccinated until their return from leave. Anyone returning to campus from a pre-approved leave will have to be fully vaccinated.
Q8: Do employees who work fully remotely need to be vaccinated?
A: The small number of employees who are fully remote and never come to campus are not required to be vaccinated. Anyone who works remotely but comes to campus, even occasionally, must be fully vaccinated.
Q9: How long do I have to stay out of work if I test positive?
A: The University continues to follow CDC and new MA DPH guidance. Individuals that test positive are required to stay home and isolate for at least the first 5 days; If your symptoms are improving and you are fever free for 24 hours, you may end your isolation on day 6 and wear a mask around others for another five days. You may remove your mask prior to day 11, if you have had two negative antigen tests taken 48 hours apart, testing is not required to leave isolation on day 6 if you continue to wear a mask and symptoms are improved.
Any employee who tests positive, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, should contact our Public Health nurse by emailing covid19HR [at] umass [dot] edu for guidance.
Q10: Can I work remotely if I test positive but am asymptomatic?
A: If an employee has tested positive but is asymptomatic—and the employee’s position supports remote work may work remotely until released to return to campus.
Q11: What should I do if I am exposed to someone who has COVID-19?
A: Any employee who has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 should email follow CDC guidance.
Q12: Do I have to use my sick time for absences related to COVID-19?
A: Employees who have had to be out of work due to COVID-19 related issues such as mandated isolation, receiving a vaccination, or covid illness should use accrued time for any necessary absences. It is important that employees email testingcovid19HR [at] umass [dot] edu (@)umass.edu in order to receive appropriate guidance for their length of absence.
Q13: How will my vaccination and boosted status be tracked?
A: The University will track and maintain each employee’s vaccination status in a confidential manner, including by downloading the status of active employees on the MA DPH database. Employees whose vaccination status is not available on the MA DPH database, including those employees vaccinated out of state, shall need to provide proof of vaccination status. That information can be uploaded here.
Q14: Do I have to wear a mask?
A: UMass is a mask welcome campus, and we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking. Mask welcome signs are available for download. Please note that individuals and departments cannot create mask requirements separate from or more restrictive than university requirements. In accordance with public health guidance, masks will be required at University Health Services (UHS), and the Public Health Promotion Center.
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. Free masks and antigen (at-home) tests are available in vending machines located at the lower level of the Campus Center.
Q15: Is there a process for medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement?
A: Any requests for medical exemptions to the vaccination requirement shall be made in writing using a Medical Vaccination Exemption Form [PDF] and process on the university website that includes uploading appropriate documentation to support such request (like certification from an appropriate medical professional that the employee should not be vaccinated). Medical accommodations related to exemptions will follow the university process for ADA requests.
Any request for religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement shall be made in writing using a Religious Vaccination Exemption Form [PDF] and process on the university website that includes uploading appropriate documentation to support such a request (personal statement and/or certification from appropriate religious professional that the employee should not be vaccinated). The appropriate documentation can be uploaded and/or attached to an email to covid19hr [at] umass [dot] edu
Q16: What option(s) do I have, if I do not want to be vaccinated and have no medical/religious exemption?
A: Unvaccinated employees, who do not have an exemption or are not awaiting approval for an exemption, shall be placed on unpaid leave and not permitted to work until they are fully vaccinated. Those employees may use compensatory time, personal time, and accrued vacation, in that order, to remain in pay status. Employees may be placed on unpaid leave for a period of no longer than one (1) year.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Q1: Are Flexible Work Arrangements available for academic year 2022-2023?
A: For detailed information regarding Flexible Work Arrangements please visit the Flex Work at UMass homepage.
Medical Issues and Accommodations
Q1: I have a health condition that doesn’t allow me to work on-site at this time. Will I need medical documentation to submit an Accommodations Request?
A: If you have a health condition that impacts your ability to work on campus, you may request an ADA accommodation by using the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form (DOC) that will require medical documentation. This form can be emailed to accessibleworkplace [at] umass [dot] edu or faxed to 413-545-0802.
Q2: Is there assistance available for those experiencing stress related to the pandemic?
A: ECCO (Employee Counseling and Consultation Office) is available for anyone struggling with stress related to working during the pandemic or any other difficulties they may be experiencing. Visit the ECCO website for contact information.
Building and Office Space Safety
Q1: How will the university continue to keep me safe as we work on campus?
A: The University continues to follow guidance provided by the CDC and Massachusetts DPH related to mandatory safety standards and will maintain all health and safety protocols as required. Any changes to current campus guidance will posted to the university’s website.
Q2: Has environmental health and safety reviewed and addressed building ventilation systems in older buildings?
A: Yes. EH&S has worked closely with Facilities and Campus Services to review and address building ventilation. If there are concerns or questions related to a specific building, the building coordinator can contact the Environmental Health & Safety office.
Q3: How do I report a safety concern?
A: Employees may report safety concerns to their supervisor and/or the Environmental Health & Safety office.
Q4: Are masks provided?
A: The University encourages employees to provide their own face covering whenever possible, and many members of our community have already purchased or made them for their own use. Free masks are available in vending machines located on the lower level of the Campus Center until the supply runs out.
Q1: Who can I contact with additional questions?
A: Please email askHR [at] umass [dot] edu or contact your Human Resources Director for your business unit, school, or college is also available to provide guidance and assistance with any additional questions or concerns.