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UMMS community update: Updated university and student travel policy

UMass Medical School Communications

March 06, 2020

Updated March 6, 2020

As public health officials monitor and respond to new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country and around the world, we want to provide you with up-to-date information related to our UMass Medical School community and the precautions that are in place.

At this time, the risk of COVID-19 in Massachusetts is low, according to the state’s Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

University officials remain in regular contact with local, state and federal health officials, and we are coordinating closely with UMass Memorial and Employee Health. Members of the Medical School’s Emergency Operations Team, which includes representatives from across our enterprise, continue to actively monitor developments and guidance regarding appropriate preparations and precautions. Our priority remains upholding public health and protecting members of our UMMS community.

With that in mind, we are sharing the relevant information that follows, and want you to know that you can access updates and resources via a button on the www.umassmed.edu homepage.

University supported travel
Out of an abundance of caution and given the recommendations of Baker Administration, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the CDC:

-- University-organized international trips for student groups are cancelled until further notice.

-- University-approved travel for faculty and staff to CDC Level 3 countries (currently CHINA, SOUTH KOREA, IRAN and ITALY) is banned until further notice.

-- Requests for University-approved travel to Level 2 countries (currently JAPAN) is discouraged, and will require case-by-case approval. 

All travelers should recognize that they may have difficulty returning to the U.S. and/or with securing adequate health care at international destinations. Per the CDC, travelers from a level 3 country are required to remain off-campus or off-site for 14 days after their return or after any symptoms subside.

It remains critical that all UMMS-related travel be registered in the Travel Registry, at https://travelregistry.umasscs.net/.

Questions about travel restrictions to or from any country should be directed to International Support Services at internationalsupportservices@umassmed.edu or by phone at 508-856-5746 (usual business hours) or 508-556-4498 (weekend/after hours).

Personal travel
Given the uncertainties associated with the spread of COVID-19, personal travel to affected regions by UMMS students, faculty and staff is strongly discouraged. Because the risk in any specific region can change, members of our community with upcoming personal travel plans are urged to monitor official sources of information including the CDC’s Travel Health Notices and travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department.  

Best practices to protect yourself, your family and your work place
Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms can appear 2-14 days after a person is exposed.

As with the seasonal flu, reasonable precautions to minimize the spread of viruses include:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Staying home when you are sick;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and
  • Getting a flu shot if you have not already done so.

Additional resources
Members of our community who have recently traveled in countries or regions impacted by COVID-19, who may have come into contact with people who have recently traveled in these regions, or who may be exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, should consult with their health care provider, Employee Health Services (508-793-6400) or Student Health Services (508-334-8464). You are urged to call ahead to inform your provider that you may have been exposed.

These precautions, plans and best practices are followed in an abundance of caution. Our University will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and provide you with timely updates and guidance as the situation evolves. Information can always be accessed at https://umassmed.edu/oc/novel-coronavirus-information/.