Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We are writing to communicate upcoming changes to our COVID-19 protocols. These key decisions were made based on a close review and consideration of multiple factors, including a reduction of COVID-19 cases on campus and the surrounding community, changes in guidances from the Center for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and evaluation of public health evidence related to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in settings and populations like those on our campus. Students, faculty, and staff have also been generous with feedback over the last several weeks, which has factored into the changes outlined below.
Adoption of a 5-day Isolation Timeframe
Effective Monday, February 21, 2022, the isolation timeframe will decrease from 10 to 5 days.
Any student or employee (regardless of their vaccination status) who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to isolate for 5 full days and produce a negative rapid antigen test taken on day 6 prior to being released from isolation. Day 0 is the date of the positive test, day 1 is the first full day of isolation, and day 6 is the day of retest.
Students and employees may take a rapid test at home or at the Health Center on day 6. If the day 6 retest is positive, they will remain in isolation and may retest 24 hours later. If the day 6 retest is negative and their symptoms are subsiding (e.g., feel well enough to come to class/work, and without fever for 24 hours), they may return to campus/leave isolation, but must adhere to strict mask wearing for 5 days (until day 10). In this instance, high quality masks must be worn at all times, except for when a student is alone in their own residence hall room/apartment; employees must wear that mask at all times, even when alone in their office.
Students must receive clearance from the Health Center to end isolation. The Health Center will contact students throughout the process with guidance.
Employees do not need to submit their retest result(s) to the Health Center. They should work with their supervisor as provided under already established policies. Employees who continue to feel unwell should remain away from campus, even if the day 6 retest is negative.
Quarantine Protocol for COVID-19 Exposure
Per CDC guidelines, direct contacts who are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their vaccinations (more than five months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted will quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.
Per the above guidance, anyone who is not boosted by March 1st will be considered not up-to-date with their vaccination and will be required to follow this quarantine guideline if they are a direct contact to COVID-19.
Updates to our Mask Policy (anticipated effective date of March 1st)
The following changes to our masking guidelines will be implemented when the City of Springfield lifts their indoor mask mandate. Email confirmation and more details will be sent out when the changes to the current mask policy becomes effective.
Masks will be:
optional for individuals with up-to-date vaccines (including boosters) in residence halls, administrative offices and buildings, the student union, and for recreational activities in the field house, the wellness center, the PE complex.
required in all other locations, including classrooms, academic offices and buildings, the Learning Commons, East Campus buildings, and healthcare service settings (including the Health Center, Counseling Center, and Athletic Training rooms), and when notice is posted for a particular office or event.
required everywhere for non-vaccinated individuals (including those not boosted by March 1st) and any individual on campus in days 6-10 of isolation with a negative retest.
Masks will continue to be welcomed everywhere on campus. Anyone who feels more comfortable wearing a mask should do so and we ask our broader community to work together to ensure that we can achieve a supportive environment on campus. We recommend that individuals wear masks in any crowded indoor setting and for anyone with a weakened immune system, or anyone at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition.
We continue to monitor key factors on and off campus and will continue to adjust our protocols accordingly. We recognize the importance for us all to return to a greater sense of normalcy while simultaneously doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.
Slandie Dieujuste, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs
Elizabeth Morgan, PhD
Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs