Public Health Protocols for Face-to-Face Classes

Earlier this week, faculty members, instructors and teaching assistants received an email from Jeff Hescock, executive director of environmental health and safety, and
Ann Becker, public health director, detailing the public health protocols in place for face-to-face classes.

That email reads as follows:

Dear Faculty Member, Instructor or Teaching Assistant:
We have received questions in recent days regarding public health safeguards for face-to-face classes. The safety of our instructors, students and staff is our highest priority, and we want to assure you that UMass has detailed protocols in place that we follow daily to protect you and the environment in which you teach. Although there has been a recent increase in COVID-19 cases locally, there has been only one positive case to date involving a student in a face-to-face class.
All students in face-to-face courses on campus are tested twice each week. Should a positive test occur among one of the students in your classroom, a case investigation with contact tracing is undertaken by the university’s public health team. If there is evidence of exposure to other members of the class, there will be targeted communications to those directly exposed. Only in rare circumstances will an entire classroom need to be notified. Students who either test positive, or are in quarantine due to exposure identified through contact tracing, will be directed to notify their instructor that they are absent due to public health reasons and therefore need remote accommodations. The university’s public health team handles all necessary and appropriate outreach to students who either test positive or who are identified through contact tracing as being potentially exposed. 

In addition, buildings with in-person classes, teaching labs, research and outdoor tents used for instruction are cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis using protocols established by Environmental Health & Safety. All touch points, seating and floors are cleaned and disinfected, and trash and recycling is removed when the building is not occupied. A second supplemental disinfecting is done during the building’s operational hours. 

Please also remember that it is extremely important that you treat in a confidential manner any private health information you may directly or indirectly receive, and that you do not share information on a student testing positive in your class.

Thank you, again, for all you do for UMass during these most challenging times.


Jeff Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety
Ann Becker, Public Health Director