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Student Return to Campus Update

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-August 6, 2020-

I hope everyone is well. Since we had to unfortunately cancel this week’s Student Town Hall Meeting, I am providing you an update on a number of topics and questions which Paula and I have received directly from you or through your academic program. I apologize for the length of this message as there are a number of updates. This information will be made available in other formats including academic program Town Hall meetings.

MGH Infectious Control Unit Reviews and Validates the Institute’s Return to Campus Plan:

The primary focus of the MGH Institute’s Return to Campus and Commit @ IHP plans is the health, safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff and clients. The processes and protocols which anyone coming to campus will follow are aligned with those in place across all clinical and non-clinical areas within MGB (formerly Partners HealthCare System). This approach has been evaluated through research conducted by clinicians within the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Infection Control Unit and recently published within the Journal of the American Medical Association. The outcomes determined that adopting symptom monitoring, universal mask, hand hygiene, and social distancing protocol in clinical settings significantly reduced the COVID-19 transmission rate. Our plans are based on these data and best practices of MGB.

The leadership within the MGH Infection Control Unit and MGB COVID-19 Response and Recovery has reviewed and validated the Institute’s plan. Many colleges and universities with enrollments larger than the Institute and with on-campus dorms and residential spaces are implementing a COVID-19 student surveillance testing plan. As part of their review, the MGH Infection Control Unit response stated they “…see no role for testing the way colleges and universities with congregate living arrangements are doing.”

The Institute does not have dorms and other residential spaces, athletic and recreational facilities, cafeterias, student centers, and other areas where large groups of students congregate. The Institute’s Fall 2020 academic scheduling significantly limits the number of students, faculty, and staff on campus at one time. Everyone arriving on campus must complete the symptom check. When checking in on campus, everyone will be issued a mask to wear at all times, as well as other types of personal protective equipment (PPE) depending on their schedule of activities. Frequent cleaning of common spaces, classrooms, and labs will follow the MGB Infectious Control Blueprint. Study space and areas for students to have food and beverages will follow these same protocols.

Commit @ IHP is an affirmation that we each personally and professionally adhere to the universal mask and eye protection protocol, hand hygiene, social distancing, and reducing the risk of infection through personal actions to contribute to flattening the curve.

Additional updated information includes:

Massachusetts Travel Order Update: Rhode Island has been removed from the “low risk” category, although you can still commute from that state into Massachusetts for work and school. (Additional information provided below.)

The Immunization and Certification Requirements due date has moved from August 7 to September 30, unless you must comply sooner for a clinical ed placement. For assistance if you need to be in compliance sooner, please contact the Office of Compliance at StudentCompliance@mghihp.edu or (617) 724-1254. Additional information will be available the week of August 10, 2020 on the Office of Compliance web page.

CPR Trainings is scheduled on campus on August 27 & 28, with additional sessions being planned for September. Registration and cost information will be distributed next week.

Study space will be available nights and weekends through a registration system during the Fall semester. Shouse rooms 305, 309, 322 and the 4th Floor Study space will be available throughout the semester.

Daily Symptom Check-In, PPE Distribution on campus and PPE needed for non-MGB clinical sites. All sites within MGB including the Institute require the use of the COVID PASS symptom checking phone app. Once “cleared” through the app, upon arrival you will receive a mask for the day along with other PPE depending on your class schedule. PPE includes masks, face shields or goggles, gloves, and gowns. Some clinical sites outside of MGB require students to bring PPE. The Institute will provide students with this PPE.

MGH Occupational Health will provide COVID-related support for students. Similar to employees, if a student is experiencing COVID symptoms or has been exposed, the Occ Health staff will advise you on testing sites available within MGB and the process to be “cleared” to return to campus and clinical education placements. The cost of testing is dependent on your personal health insurance and your symptoms.

Public transportation is safe if you wear a mask and social distance! There have been questions about health and safety related to taking the T, commuter rail, and busses to commute to campus and clinical education sites. Research has shown that by wearing a mask and social distancing there is a low risk of transmission on public transportation. This link is to a recent article describing the data and evidence.

Massachusetts Travel Order Update: Rhode Island removed from “low risk” category, you can still commute into MA for work and school.

On August 1, Massachusetts implemented a new travel order. On Tuesday, August 2, the order was updated to remove Rhode Island from the “Low Risk State” category. Please keep the following in mind as you plan your return to Boston and when you are scheduled to be on campus or at a clinical education site.

Coming from a “Lower-Risk State,” you can enter the state and there are no requirements to complete. If you travel from a state not defined as a “Lower Risk State,” you must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form and do one of the following:
•    Self-quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Massachusetts
•    Be tested 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts – the Institute highly recommends this option!

If your results are negative, you do not need to self-quarantine for 14 days. If your COVID-19 test result has not been received prior to arrival, you can enter the state and quarantine until you receive a “negative” test result.

Upon entering Massachusetts, start self-quarantine, schedule a test as soon as possible, upon receiving a “negative” test result ends self-quarantine.

If you live in Rhode Island you can commute into Massachusetts to attend class and participate in clinical education and work.

We urge you to please continue to adhere to Commit @ IHP – wear a mask, practice hand hygiene, social distance, and isolate at home when not on campus or at a clinical education site. Together as health and education professionals, we will do our part to flatten the curve.

Denis G. Stratford
Chief Operating Officer

IHP Communications

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