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COVID-19 Return to Work Planning

UMass Medical School Communications

May 08, 2020

As a health care organization, UMass Medical School is among the entities deemed essential under Gov. Baker’s statewide orders. Today we wish to share information about how UMMS will begin to ramp up biomedical research through careful and thorough planning that has been underway for several weeks.

Phased Approach

Lab researchers will be brought back to campus beginning no sooner than Monday, May 18. The ramp up will occur in phases of several hundred people at a time. Lab settings are well suited to allow UMMS personnel to continue to adhere to strict observance of physical distancing guidelines. Shift scheduling will be used in some cases to lower population density in our work spaces.

Who Does This Impact?

Following close consultation with deans, department chairs, principal investigators and lab managers, individuals who are expected to return to campus will be notified by their chairs or direct supervisors before noon tomorrow. The first phase will include all personnel who have been coming in (those deemed essential by their managers), as well as other essential personnel required to conduct hands-on research and maintain the facilities, including some post-doctoral scholars and graduate students.

What Must Happen Before I Return to Campus?

Individuals who are to return to the UMMS campus will receive an invitation by email to schedule a nasal swab for detection of the coronavirus. Unless there are changes in the local epidemiology, testing will begin Wednesday, May 13, and will allow individuals who are asymptomatic shedders of the virus to be identified.

Testing will be done in test station in the Plantation Street garage. Positive results will go to Employee Health Services or Student Health Services, and an expert care provider will follow up as appropriate.

In addition to completion of a nasal swab test, all personnel who are to return to campus must begin to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis. This is mandatory. Self-monitoring will be reported via a secure app, and those with symptoms will be asked to call Employee or Student Health Services. Directions regarding the use of the app and portal will be shared in the coming days.

Protecting the Safety of our Workplace

Self-monitoring, testing, strict adherence to physical distancing guidelines and careful hand hygiene are all critical to keeping our workplace as safe as possible.

The universal mask policy, which requires masks be worn while in a UMMS facility, will remain in effect. The number of entrances to campus buildings has been reduced, and each entrance is stocked with masks and hand sanitizer to be used upon entering.

The UMMS COVID-19 Workforce Safety Working Group is finalizing more detailed guidance and resources on a range of relevant issues, including use of the self-monitoring app, guidance about spending time in public spaces on campus, the consumption of food while at work, cleaning protocols and more. This detailed document will be shared before May 18.

Please look for additional emails, including individual scheduling invitations, beginning on May 8.