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July 24: An update on COVID testing and Safe Return to Campus

July 24, 2020

Dear Fellow Patriots:

We are excited to bring students, faculty and staff back to campus and resume our mission of providing a rewarding and inclusive education. We also know that in these less certain times, a safe return to campus starts with a focus on health and a shared commitment to building a culture of well-being. 

University teams have spent the summer working diligently to develop a plan for supporting and monitoring health on-campus. Our teams are working with our partners in public health to monitor health on campus, track potential symptoms of COVID-19 through self-reporting, testing and contact tracing, and isolate and treat those in our community who become ill.  

We are pleased to share a summary of the plan below. We also encourage you to review our Safe Return to Campus website and plan for more details.

Creating a safe environment requires everyone’s help. Everyone can do their part by staying engaged, being aware of new requirements for safety and looking out for their fellow Patriots. Together, we can create an environment where health and safety go hand in hand with education and learning, and everyone has an opportunity to thrive.

Below is a summary of steps to take in order to come back – and stay back – on campus for the 2020-21 academic year. You can also read the complete Mason Safe Return To Campus Plan (PDF).  

14 days prior to returning (residential students only)

  • Self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
  • Complete a COVID test.
    • You must have a negative COVID test to be cleared to move into a Mason residence hall.
    • If you test positive, seek medical attention as appropriate, and stay away from campus until you are cleared by a medical professional.
  • Students will receive a separate email with detailed instructions.

7 days prior to returning to campus (all students)

  • Start completing your daily Mason COVID Health Check™, a brief online questionnaire about your health status.

While on campus (all students, faculty, and staff)

  • Complete your daily Mason COVID Health Check
  • Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose at all times in public places.
  • Practice appropriate social distancing.
  • Practice appropriate hygiene, including thoroughly washing hands for at least 20 seconds, and if you can’t do that, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes.
  • Stay home if you feel symptoms consistent with COVID.

If you display symptoms of COVID

  • Students, as well as uninsured Mason employees and on-campus contractors, will be tested at the Mason On-Campus Testing Site.
  • Student Health Services will continue to serve students at regional campuses through video telehealth and will work with those students to get testing convenient to their location.
  • All other employees should be tested through their insured health providers.
  • The Ángel Cabrera Global Center has been designated as an on-campus quarantine site, when warranted. Residential students who must quarantine, may be quarantined in their room or in the Cabrera Global Center based on public health guidance.
  • All other students, faculty and staff must stay away from campus until they are cleared by a medical professional to return.

Random testing to detect asymptomatic carriers

  • To help track the virus spreading via carriers who display no symptoms, throughout the academic year Mason will randomly select members of the community to request that they participate in voluntary testing.
  • Testing will be done at the Cabrera Global Center.

These are challenging times for everyone and we greatly appreciate everyone’s role in building a safe campus environment. We can do this together if everyone does their part. Let’s be Patriots and have a great year!

Sincerely,

Julie Zobel, PhD

Assistant Vice President, Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management

AND

Carol Urban, RN, PhD

Testing Site Coordinator

Associate Dean, Practice & Strategic Initiatives

College of Health and Human Services

AND

Lisa Park, MD, MPH

Executive Director, Student Health Services