Covid-19 Campus Operations

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Campus Operations Status

UPDATED AUGUST 24, 2020: The Georgia Tech community has returned to in-person learning, research, and campus activities.

Now that the fall semester has begun, it is important that we develop and practice the habits that will keep us safe and allow us to engage in the activities we value on campus. One of the most important new habits is making sure that all of us get tested once per week. This will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 on campus and allow us to continue to offer in-person teaching and learning.

If everyone who lives and works on campus participates in free weekly screenings and opts into the NOVID exposure notification app and uses it regularly, then we have an excellent chance to maintain low rates of transmission. Testing locations and hours.

For more information about testing or any other important health and safety precautions to take, please visit the Campus Guidelines.

Recent Campus Operations Updates

September 2, 2020 - Task Force Update: How and Where Student Quarantine and Isolation Happens

As we all continue to stay vigilant about keeping our campus community healthy and safe, there have been a number of questions about the options provided by Housing and Residence Life for students affected by Covid-19.

Here is how the quarantine, isolation, and potential exposure process is working for our on-campus residents.

  • If a student is tested and diagnosed with Covid-19, the individual has to isolate. These students are given the option to return home to isolate or to take advantage of the isolation housing Georgia Tech Housing and Residence Life provides. The student must remain there until medically cleared to return to campus housing and normal campus activities.
    • Georgia Tech’s isolation housing – for people testing positive for Covid-19 – is located at an off-campus hotel and overflow is in a student apartment building at 10th and Home streets used only for this purpose. Housing and Residence Life helps with transportation to the off-campus location, and provides meal delivery during the isolation period.
  • If a student has not tested positive, but is still worried about exposure or illness, that student is directed to get tested through surveillance testing (if asymptomatic) or Stamps Health Center (if symptomatic).
    • If the student becomes concerned about exposure or illness after hours, the individual should remain in place and away from others until tested.
    • In these cases, there are two options:
      • They may be allowed to stay in their room if they do not share a bedroom or bathroom.
      • They may be placed in temporary housing as a precaution until they can seek testing the next business day.
        • The temporary housing may be an empty, apartment-style space with its own bathroom in on-campus housing. This apartment space may be in a building where other residents may also live.
    • In both cases, meals are delivered to them so they do not have to leave the room until testing reopens or they can be moved to one of the designated isolation/quarantine locations.
       
  • If a student is exposed to a person who has tested positive, the exposed student must quarantine for 14 days from last contact with the positive person. The student may choose to return home to quarantine or move to the off-campus hotel or overflow space in the empty building at 10th and Home streets.

Some social media posts have suggested that Georgia Tech has knowingly placed individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 into empty dorm rooms that are next door to or share common space with healthy residents. To be clear, that is not taking place.

We are committed to transparency about all aspects of our campus life, including those related to positive coronavirus cases in our community and their living arrangements. If you have questions about this process, please contact information@housing.gatech.edu.

September 1, 2020 - Safety Measures

As we settle into the third week of classes, and a month after we began returning to campus, I’d like to provide an update on surveillance testing data and share some new preventive actions that we are taking to promote health and safety on campus.

As of August 30, we had tested more than 21,000 samples through the Georgia Tech surveillance testing program. This has provided us with invaluable data and has helped us identify clusters and isolate cases more effectively. I want to thank the many faculty, staff, and students who built this impressive infrastructure and who work tirelessly to collect and test samples, to analyze the data, and to take care of students who test positive or may be at risk. My gratitude goes also to the thousands of students, faculty, and staff who are testing weekly.

Like many of you, I was concerned about the rising number of infections toward the end of last week, yet I was reassured that surveillance data was allowing us to more accurately target at-risk populations, such as Greek housing and some areas within our residence halls. I have also been reassured by the fact that we have so far not seen an increase in the rate of positive tests among faculty and staff since the start of the semester despite a higher number of employees now on campus. 

Based on what we are learning from the data, I would like to announce some actions aimed at reducing the risk of infection, especially among residential students.

  • Housing and Residence Life will begin moving students who share a room into single rooms over the coming weeks. While I realize many students would prefer not to live in single rooms, our data shows that living in separate rooms can reduce the risk of infection. Details will be sent to all resident students shortly. Students will incur no extra costs and will be given time and assistance to move. In some circumstances, students may have the opportunity to take advantage of the long weekend to minimize disruption.
  • Stamps Health Center has added additional staff to support contact tracing, which helps those who might have been exposed to the coronavirus seek appropriate medical attention and avoid spreading the infection to others. That staff includes the redeployment of six full-time employees in addition to 40 volunteers in other departments who have been trained and are ready to take on the work in this area.
  • We have expanded the available space for isolation and quarantine by reserving additional hotel space. Contrary to erroneous information which has circulated in some social media platforms, students are not being isolated or quarantined in currently occupied dorms. We are using an empty building at 10th and Home Streets for individuals who need to quarantine until they can be accommodated safely elsewhere.
  • To reduce the risk of exposure and transmission, we are advising students not to travel over Labor Day weekend. We are working to compile a list of socially distanced events and activities for students who remain on campus during the holiday weekend.
  • The Interfraternity Council is not permitting any registered events this entire semester. All students have been advised to continue with restricting access to houses to residents only and not to travel in groups.   
  • In order to incentivize regular, weekly testing and to lower the risk of infection, we are considering restricting BuzzCard access to certain buildings on campus for those who do not test regularly. We will continue to assess the need for this action and will communicate details if it’s necessary.

Once again, I want to emphasize that no one should be stigmatized for testing positive. If you test positive or have Covid-19-like symptoms, let us know so we can help you get better and stop the chain of contagion from affecting anyone else. If you test positive, you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many others by taking precautions and isolating yourself.

The issue is not testing positive but engaging in behavior that puts others at risk. The Georgia Tech Covid-19 Student Educational and Response Team (CO-SERT) is a temporary collaborative group charged with reviewing reported questions and concerns related to students or student groups and adherence to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. If you see someone who’s putting others at risk, please report it to the CO-SERT at cosert@gatech.edu. High-risk behaviors include violations of isolation or quarantine protocols and hosting on- or off-campus gatherings of any size in closed spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. Such actions are considered violations of the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.

These are difficult times without easy solutions. I understand that being distanced from each other is difficult. And our efforts to combat this highly contagious disease is adding considerable stress to our lives. I encourage you to find ways to stay connected — just a little farther apart — and, whenever possible, outdoors. Be creative and find ways to study, work, eat, and play on campus while staying safe together. And if you feel distress and need help, please ask for help. The CARE center is available to help with these very real challenges we are all facing.

Thank you for doing your part to support the community’s health.

Ángel Cabrera

August 4, 2020 - Testing and Tracing

As we near the start of fall semester, we know there are many questions still remaining about health and safety precautions. Last week, we shared two new e-guidebooks to help you navigate that return, one for students and one for faculty. They build upon the general campus guidelines, your resource for the most up-to-date information about Georgia Tech’s fall plans.

We know that Covid-19 testing and notification will play a large role in keeping our community safe. The Institute’s Covid-19 Recovery Task Force has a working group focused solely on these important safety measures. Final details are being put in place, but we wanted to give you the information we have now.  

Testing
Testing is an important part of our health and safety strategy for the fall. Large-scale testing will be a regular feature of daily life on campus during the fall semester. Our plan is to have the capacity to test up to 1,500 asymptomatic people each day. We will deploy a variety of testing measures to reach this goal, but the core of our on-campus testing will be conducted through our CLIA-approved molecular biology lab. We have established a logistics network that will make tests available in locations convenient to residence halls and other locations across campus, which will then be delivered to the lab for testing. Turnaround time on our in-house tests will be 24-48 hours.  

We are also currently set up for testing symptomatic students at Stamps Health Services. And, we have ordered 30,000 Vault kits, which are remotely monitored test kits that can be used to supplement our on-campus testing operations. We will also host a Fulton County walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning August 18. It will be available to symptomatic and asymptomatic faculty, staff, and students.  

More details will be provided before the start of classes.

Contact Tracing and Notification
In addition, contact tracing and notification programs are being built by our teams, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Through the program, Georgia Tech will make initial rapid notifications of close contacts in the Georgia Tech community based on information gathered from the individual who tests positive. A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes, anyone who had physical contact with the person, or anyone who was coughed or sneezed on by the person. The Georgia Department of Public Health will conduct contact tracing with support from Georgia Tech.

Assigned seating and attendance taking will be helpful strategies to assist contact tracing and notification with classroom exposures. However, the implementation of social distancing within our classroom spaces will minimize the need to make notifications within a classroom.

Testing Positive — Isolation and Quarantine
In addition, we have heard many of you wonder how isolation and quarantine might be handled if a student, faculty, or staff member tests positive. Here are some important definitions:

  • Isolation is the separation of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 or been diagnosed with Covid-19 by symptoms.
  • Quarantine is the separation of those who have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 but who are not ill.
  • Infectious period is the period during which someone with Covid-19 can transmit the infection to others. The infectious period is defined as starting two days before symptoms begin and ends when the person has recovered.  

If a student tests positive, the student should isolate at their permanent home if possible. If the student lives in on-campus housing and cannot return home, Georgia Tech will provide a space for the student to isolate until the student meets criteria for ending isolation. If the student lives in off-campus housing, the student will need to isolate in their off-campus residence.  

If the testing was done at Stamps, Stamps will initiate the contact notification process. If testing was done in the Georgia Tech research lab, the research lab will report the positive test to Stamps, and Stamps will initiate contact notification. If the testing was done somewhere off campus, the student will need to self-report the result using the web link on health.gatech.edu/coronavirus. That will initiate contact notification by Georgia Tech and contact tracing by the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

If a student was exposed to someone who has tested positive and needs to quarantine and lives in on-campus housing, Georgia Tech will provide space for the student to quarantine for 14 days from contact. If the student lives in off-campus housing, the student will need to quarantine in their off-campus housing. Students in isolation and quarantine will be followed up by medical staff on a regular basis to monitor their welfare and progress. They will also have access to meal delivery.  

If a faculty/staff member tests positive, the person should work with their supervisor to identify co-workers or other members of the Georgia Tech community who were close contacts during the infectious period. The contact notification team will work with an employee’s supervisor to provide notification of exposure to close contacts and to provide information to the Georgia Department of Public Health as part of DPH’s contact tracing efforts.

In all cases, during the notification process, the identity of the person who tested positive will be kept confidential. Positive tests will also be reported on the Georgia Tech Public Exposure Alert webpage.

Additional Details and Timing
These new measures added to social distancing, the requirement to wear face coverings on campus when social distancing cannot be maintained, and the additional disinfecting and cleaning protocols Georgia Tech has put in place aim to keep the Georgia Tech community safe.  

We are committed to communicating more details on testing, notification, and tracing before classes begin. Thank you for your patience as we work diligently to prepare campus for your return. 

Campus Operations FAQs

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about campus operations and student services.

Contacts for Students

Resources and where to go for help with campus services or academic and financial issues.

 

Space Usage Guidelines

Strategies to maintain social distancing in Georgia Tech facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.