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Information related to COVID-19

March 23, 2020 update

March 16, 2020 update

March 13, 2020, update

The profound societal disruption that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic may be without precedent. These are challenging and trying times, testing the resolve and resiliency of our institution, our commonwealth, our nation and our world. It has been heartening and inspiring to observe the professionalism, dedication and compassion of our campus community in recent days. We want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all UMMS colleagues who have been working to develop thoughtful management plans in the face of mounting uncertainty. We feel so fortunate to work with and among such invested colleagues, and your efforts have been critically important.

Given our leadership position in medical education, primary care and public health, it is imperative that we serve as a model for slowing and reversing the relentless spread of this novel disease.

After carefully assessing the current situation and considering the most recent guidance, recommendations and directives from state and federal authorities, we will be mounting a much more aggressive and comprehensive strategy to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections in the communities where we live and work.

The proactive measures, which are outlined below, are supported by a growing body of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of deploying robust social distancing tactics, such as limiting public events, prohibiting large gatherings and restricting travel to certain areas. These strategies, and many others, are essential to reducing the rate of infection and preventing sustained community transmission of the virus.

With this as context, UMass Medical School will be instituting the following mitigation strategies beginning on Monday, March 16 and remaining in effect at least through April 3.

Beginning Monday, March 16, and through Friday, April 3, employees who are not required at any UMMS location to perform essential functions are encouraged to work from home.

  • To be clear, UMass Medical School is NOT closed for business; rather, we are encouraging work in a decentralized manner and employees who work remotely will be paid as usual.
  • If you are not clear about your status, please consult with your supervisor.
  • Managers and staff are expected to determine ways to stay connected and productive during this time by implementing daily (or more frequent) check-ins and maximizing the use of technology such as calls, emails, and videoconferencing.
  • It is expected during this time that employees who are working from home will adhere to previous guidance discouraging personal travel by plane, train and bus.
  • Helpful tools for employees working remotely are available at this link, using your UMMS credentials to log in. The IT Help Desk can be reached at helpdesk@umassmed.edu.
  • Employees whose responsibilities necessitate their presence on campus between now and April 3 are asked to follow existing precautions, including:
    • Practice social distancing by avoiding physical contact and maintaining 6 feet of distance when possible;
    • Practice good hygiene;
    • Do not gather in groups larger than 50; and,
    • As always, if you are not feeling well, do not come to work.
  • In the coming days, additional guidance will be sent to managers regarding how personnel and paid time off policies will be applied during this period.

Our laboratories

Department chairs, directors and principal investigators are beginning the process of ramping down laboratory wet lab research activities to a minimal level to protect irreplaceable reagents, cell lines, and other essential biomedical research functions. We intend to maintain this lower level of scientific activity, which will require fewer essential staff on all campuses, including MassBiologics, until April 3 or further notice.

Environmental Health and Safety is available as a resource to essential laboratory employees during this transition. Lowering the number and density of people in the labs should make us all safer.

Our students

Academic classes in the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Graduate School of Nursing will continue to be conducted virtually until at least April 3.

Restricting visitors to the UMMS campus 

UMass Memorial Health Care is restricting visitors in patient care areas. Similarly, beginning Monday, access to UMMS buildings will be limited to individuals with valid UMMS and UMass Memorial Medical Center badges. Sponsored visitors should be limited and directed to the main lobby of the Medical School where the sponsor will be contacted to come and escort the visitor.

Visits to campus by individuals who have traveled internationally within the prior 14 days are suspended. Visits by individuals traveling domestically will require prior approval by the provost.

New hire orientation scheduled for Monday, March 16 will be cancelled. Managers and new hires impacted by this change will be notified by Human Resources.

Travel by UMMS faculty, staff and students

All previously-communicated travel restrictions remain in place until further notice.

Staying calm, informed and supported

We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting uncertainty can cause anxiety and concern. We want to reassure you that Medical School leadership is mindful of this stress and we are working hard to uphold critical public health initiatives and support our community’s safety and well-being. As part of an academic community that takes great pride in our unique spirit of collaboration and collegiality, we are confident that you will all be compassionate and understanding of one another and that we can find creative ways to stay connected in this unusual time, while all staying calm, informed and safe. The UMMS Employee Assistance Program may be a useful resource.

Your cooperation is appreciated. Leadership continues to monitor developments and reassess precautions. Updates on the status of our campus can always be found via the umassmed.edu home page and at this link. Future updates will be communicated on or before April 3.

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