TO: Faculty, Staff, Undergraduates, Graduate Students, and Researchers
FROM: Campus Message
SUBJECT: Updates to Masking and COVID-19 Testing Program Protocols
DATE: March 2, 2022
As a follow-up to the message that Provost Deborah Prentice and Executive Vice President Treby Williams sent earlier today, please see below for more detailed information about the University’s updates to COVID-19 protocols.
These changes are informed by the latest CDC guidelines that recommend strategies based on COVID-19 Community Levels. Given the new guidance from the CDC, Mercer County’s “Low” level of transmission as measured by the CDC, and the University’s objective to restore a richer in-person experience, protocols have been updated to achieve that objective and empower individuals to make their own decisions related to wearing a mask and how often to test.
Beginning March 7, we will implement a new testing schedule:
- Individuals who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters will be required to test monthly instead of weekly.
- Individuals who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters must continue to test weekly.
- Unvaccinated people with accommodations will be required to test weekly.
- Anyone who elects to be tested weekly may do so.
Anyone who tests positive will be required to isolate in accordance with CDC, NJ Department of Public Health, and University guidance (currently a minimum of 5 days in isolation followed by the wearing of a tightfitting mask for up to five days following release). Contact tracing will remain in place to identify clusters of infection and to monitor transmission on campus.
Returning from Spring Break
- Undergraduate students leaving campus for Spring Break will be required to test within 24 hours of their return and to wear a mask until they have received a negative test result.
- Undergraduates who have remained on campus must test by March 13 and wear a mask until they have received a negative test result.
- Undergraduates receiving a positive test result will receive isolation and masking instructions.
All populations (undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and affiliates) who are up to date on all vaccinations and boosters, if eligible*, will follow the testing schedule below, which is based on last names:
- A – E – Test on Week 1 of the month
- F – K – Test on Week 2 of the month
- L – R – Test on Week 3 of the month
- S – Z – Test on Week 4 of the month
To avoid delays in receiving test results, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit their tests early in the week (Monday, Tuesday) and undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to submit their tests later in the week (Wednesday, Thursday).
*Please visit the CDC page about boosters if you have questions about whether or not you are eligible.
NEW FACE COVERINGS POLICY
Face coverings must still be worn in the following situations:
- Where required by state or local agencies, currently on TigerTransit and in the McCosh Health Center
- As instructed by Global and Community Health following a positive test result for COVID-19 or when identified as a close contact
- When faculty and staff as conveners of a class, lab, gathering, or meeting require participants to wear a mask
- The campus community must continue to foster a non-judgmental environment in which people’s individual choice regarding whether or not to wear a mask is honored.
- People who have approved exemptions and are therefore not up to date on their vaccinations or boosters, are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times when indoors and around others to protect their own health and the health of others.
- Masks, particularly KN95 masks, continue to be effective in reducing the risk of transmission. The CDC offers guidance on mask wearing, which is a useful resource.
- Participants in a class, gathering, or meeting may request that the instructor or convener require masks, but the instructor or convener may decide whether or not masks are required.
Faculty and staff are expected to stay home and test when they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should call McCosh Health Center to arrange a symptomatic test and wear a mask until they receive a negative test result.
For detailed instructions about what to do if you or a close contact tests positive for COVID-19 outside of the asymptomatic testing program, please visit the UHS website.