Dear UMass Dartmouth Staff and Faculty,
As the fall semester ends, we want to update the community on UMass Dartmouth’s preparation for the spring semester. The PERT Co-Chairs meet regularly to discuss campus safety—as does the campus leadership—and are reviewing all of our plans in light of what we’re learning about the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The university will keep all current health and safety protocols and procedures in place for the spring semester, as outlined in our Spring 2022 Semester Plan. These include our indoor mask requirement, additional cleaning protocols, testing our ventilation systems and classroom airflow, and our COVID-19 vaccination requirement for faculty, staff and students. As always, our COVID dashboard on the campus website will be updated on a weekly basis with information about the campus, local community, and state infection and vulnerability levels.
We will also expand our COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students, staff and faculty to include a booster dose, and expect all members of the campus community to be tested for COVID-19 on their return to campus after the break. More details on both of these initiatives are provided below.
Vaccine Booster Shot Requirement
Vaccination is one of our best defenses against the spread of COVID-19, and vaccines have been shown to reduce the likelihood of serious illness, hospitalization and death for those who do contract the virus. The CDC now recommends that everyone over the age of 18 should obtain a vaccine booster shot when they are eligible to do so.
That’s why UMass Dartmouth will require all faculty, staff and students who will live, learn and work on our campus in 2022 to obtain a COVID-19 booster shot when they are eligible to do so. This requirement is in accordance with the COVID-19 vaccination agreements ratified by our labor unions last fall. Of course, approved vaccination exemptions will remain in force.
All staff and faculty will receive an e-mail from Human Resources soon, which will include a link to an attestation form where you will be asked to indicate whether you have received your booster dose. Using this form will keep the Health Services Patient Portal free to process the high volume of student vaccination documentation we expect to receive.
More information about this requirement will be shared after the holiday break, but in the meantime, if you have not received your booster shot yet, please visit the Massachusetts Vaccine Finder website to schedule an appointment near you. We will also be hosting vaccine clinics on campus throughout the spring to make it easy for everyone to obtain their booster dose.
Testing On Return to Campus
Because experts expect to see an increase in cases of both the delta and omicron variants in this region in January, and many may attend holiday gatherings over the break, the university is actively exploring options that will enable us to test students, staff and faculty as they return to campus after the break. We are working with our testing partners to understand whether and how we can procure and administer rapid tests on campus as everyone returns. We will share more details as soon as they are available.
COVID-19 Safety over the Break
We have kept case counts low on campus throughout the fall semester through everyone’s cooperation with our safety protocols, including getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors and frequent hand washing. As you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, please continue to exercise these common-sense precautions that will help you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.
On behalf of all of us on the PERT, we wish you an enjoyable and restoring winter break and a very happy and healthy new year.
Acting Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Organizational Behavior