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Modifications to UMMS travel policy (Sept. 30)

UMass Medical School Communications

September 30, 2020

As trends with the pandemic change, we are continually reviewing our travel policy to ensure that our approach follows state guidelines and keeps our campus community safe. Given recent emerging trends, we have made the following modifications to the UMMS travel policy with regard to domestic travel.

This revised policy impacts those students, post-doctoral fellows, UMMS employees and dually employed physicians who will be working in UMMS locations (e.g. medical school, LRB, ASC, Biotech 2, Clinical Research Center) in the 14 days following return from travel to a state that is not designated as ‘lower risk’ by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order.

Employees and students returning to clinical sites (e.g. dually employed clinical physicians, residents/fellows, clinical year students in the GSN and School of Medicine) will not be impacted by this policy change and should continue to follow the UMMHC Travel Policies. The details below will address process for employees including post-doctoral scholars.

Students in the three schools will receive a separate communication regarding implementation of these policy changes.

This revised travel policy will go into effect on October 5, 2020.

All UMMS employees working in UMMS locations:

The revised travel policy requires pre-approval for travel by your manager/supervisor/program director/chair.

International travel still requires a 14-day quarantine before return to work. UMMS-sponsored (work or school-related) international travel will not be approved at this time.

  1. Lower risk states: UMMS will align with the  Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order on lower risk states
    a. Please check the travel order site frequently to know which are lower vs. higher risk states. 
    b. Travelers should check the travel order site before, during and after travel in order to be aligned with the most up to date information. 
  2. Quarantine/Test Out options upon return from travel:
    a. UMMS will adopt a hybrid approach that more closely aligns with the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order on the quarantine/testing approach.
    b. All non-clinical UMMS employees may choose either of the following (with the choice reviewed and pre-approved by manager/supervisor/ program director/chair):
    1. Quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel to a higher risk state, or
    2. Test out option upon return from travel:

      1.) Quarantine for 7 days after your return.
      2.) Obtain COVID-19 PCR test on or after day 7 (antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted).
      3.) Continue to quarantine, pending EHS clearance.
      4.) Submit negative test result to EHS.
      5.) Upon receipt of the test result, you will receive a call from EHS and verify no illness.
      6.) EHS will notify your manager that you are cleared to return to study/work and your badge will be re-activated.    

A reminder that there are currently three different travel forms at UMMS/UMMHC that are associated with different travel policies.

The form that you complete and the policy you follow depend on the location(s) in which you will work in the 14 days following return from travel to a ‘high risk’ area.

The UMMS Employee Travel Form should be filled out by employees who will be working in UMMS locations (e.g. medical school, LRB, ASC, Biotech 2, Clinical Research Center) in the 14 days following return. Until the 14-day quarantine period or test out option is complete, entry into UMMS restricted research areas (LRB, ASC, Biotech 2) is not permitted and ID badges will be deactivated.

The UMMHC Travel Form should be completed by school employees who will be working in clinical areas (UMMHC sites, Worcester Recovery Center and other healthcare facilities) in the 14 days following return. This includes dually employed physicians, residents, fellows and other clinical employees. UMass Memorial and other clinical sites follow the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order and permit a return to work with a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival or testing on arrival with quarantine until a negative test is obtained.

FAQ:

Where and when can I get my COVID PCR test for the test out option?

Please obtain your test on or after day 7 following return to MA (day 0 is day of return to a ‘lower risk’ state).

  • Please do not come to the usual surveillance testing site for a “return from travel” test.
  • You can:
    1. Obtain a COVID-19 PCR test at UMMS – instructions on the location and process for testing:
  • UMMS employees should contact Gladys Matos (matos@umassmed.edu)
  1. If you are unable to test at UMMS, you can also check the MEMA COVID-19 Test Site Locator for test sites (‘Stop the Spread’ sites are free).

Will my badge be deactivated during travel? When will it be turned on?

  • Badges will be deactivated during travel.
  • Badges will be reactivated following clearance from

Can I still work while I am quarantined?

  • Yes, you can and should continue to work from home as you are able.

May I come to work while waiting for my COVID-19 PCR results?

  • Each employee must quarantine until cleared by EHS.

I’m part of surveillance testing at UMMS. When do I resume surveillance testing after I return from a trip?

  • Surveillance testing will resume for those individuals in the COVID testing program the week after the post-travel COVID-19 PCR test and clearance by EHS.
  • Each individual must be symptom-free with a negative COVID-19 test in order to resume surveillance testing and return to work/study on site.

If I submit a UMMS Travel Form do I still need to submit an online travel form to MA DPH?

  • Yes, everyone must register travel as per the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Orderwith the MA state travel form.
  • All UMMS employees to whom this policy applies must also register travel using the newly revised UMMS travel forms on the UMMS Travel Site.
  • The updated UMMS Travel form must be reviewed and approved by the manager/supervisor/program director/chair.

May I test out of quarantine if I am returning from international travel?

  • No, a 14-day quarantine is still required for all international travel for all employees.

Is air travel considered a risk if I am traveling to a low risk state?

  • According to the CDC, the time spent in security lines, in airport terminals and on crowded flights all bring you into close contact with other individuals for potentially extended periods of time. Air travel can increase your risk of getting COVID-19, particularly if you are close to someone traveling from a high-risk area on a connecting flight.
  • While air travel to a low risk state will not require you to quarantine, please be aware that there is a risk, and that you should follow all usual precautions during/after travel with regard to hand hygiene, social distancing and use of a mask when you are at work or in public.

Is the COVID-19 rapid antigen test or the COVID-19 antibody test an acceptable test to return to work at UMMS?

  • No, the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order states that only PCR tests are acceptable. Please ensure that the testing center that you go to offers the correct test.

I tested positive for COVID-19, recovered and received return-to-work clearance from EHS. Do I need to get another test to return to work after traveling?

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are returning from travel, please contact EHS for additional advice on returning to work.

Potential travel scenarios are available on the MA.gov website for additional frequently asked questions.