Operational Status Updates Archives

To find the most current status updates from around Georgia Tech, please visit Operational Status Updates.

Institute-Wide 

December 28, 2020 - Returning to Campus Safely for Spring Semester

To the Georgia Tech Community:

We hope you are enjoying a safe and fun holiday season, even though it might look a lot different than in years past. But with 2021 right around the corner and vaccines beginning to be deployed around the country, there is reason for hope.

We are not there yet. Until a vaccine is widely available at Georgia Tech, we want to remind you that it will take a united effort to ensure a safe return to campus in January and a successful spring semester. And we want to ask you to do your part over the next couple of weeks to protect yourself and your loved ones while you are away, and bring those practices with you when you come back to Tech.

Continue to practice social distancing, wear your face covering, and avoid gatherings, especially in higher risk settings such as restaurants, bars, and confined indoor spaces. During the week before you return, limit your interactions with people to those in your household.

When planning your return, whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, be sure to check your airline’s requirements for documenting a recent negative test result. You will need to find a test site in your area. Georgia Tech does not provide return travel testing, but we encourage you to plan ahead to avoid travel delays. Whether flying or driving, you should get tested 1-3 days before you depart for campus.

Once you’re here, get ready to jump back into the routine we shared in the fall: Test. Mask. Distance.

  • Please plan to participate in surveillance testing on campus as soon as possible once you arrive, and then 3-5 days after arrival. After that, regular weekly testing is encouraged.
  • Don’t forget your face covering! Be sure to wear one at all times when you’re around other people, including small friend groups.
  • Avoid close contact with others or self-isolate for 7 days after you arrive — and continue to maintain social distance and avoid gatherings after that first week.
  • Stick to it. Make healthy practices a part of your regular routine.

We know this might seem like a lot to ask. But we also know that these guidelines work. And we won’t have to follow them forever, but as a community we will only succeed if we can work together and stay committed to protecting ourselves and our fellow Jackets. Enjoy the rest of your break. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus.

Find more detailed information about planning your safe return to campus.

November 22, 2020 - A Message of Gratitude From President Cabrera

As Georgia Tech students, faculty, and staff pause for the Thanksgiving break, President Cabrera shares a message of gratitude — reflecting on the successes and challenges of the fall semester and looking ahead to the spring.

November 11, 2020 - Going Home Healthy

To the Georgia Tech Community:

The final instructional days of the fall semester, Nov. 23 and 24, will be here before you know it. There is a lot to prepare for — final exams, projects, and wrapping up what has been for all of us a challenging, and at times just plain unusual, semester.

But we’ve made it this far. And we’ve done it together. Now, as you make your plans for the Thanksgiving holiday and for an extended period away from campus, we remind you to stay vigilant in the coming days: Test. Mask. Distance. Don’t just do it for yourselves. Do it for your family, friends, and loved ones you may be spending time with during the break.

It is so important to lower your risk of exposure during these last weeks of the semester. Now is the time to reduce the number of people in your circle of contacts and to reduce the frequency of contact with them; to avoid gathering in groups; and to wear a mask whenever you are in the presence of others, even close friends. It’s time to redouble our efforts to be as safe as possible.

Before you leave, have a plan. Get tested 7-10 days before the break, and again 1-2 days before heading home. If you’re flying, you may need to provide documentation showing a recent negative Covid-19 test. Our surveillance testing is not diagnostic, and cannot be used for travel certification. Testing for travel will be available on campus using Vault kits. Find out what you need to know about travel testing.

We encourage you to bring home with you the positive health and safety practices you’ve been following here in our Georgia Tech “bubble” for the past few months. Maintain all of those practices that will help keep you and those you love as safe as possible over the holidays.

We want you to thrive, to finish the semester successfully, and to prioritize your well-being during less than ideal circumstances — whether you’re on campus or back home. We will continue to provide updates, resources, and regular communications surrounding Covid-19.

Find more detailed guidance on planning for a safe and healthy end of the semester and winter break.

November 9, 2020 - Finishing Strong, and Healthy

Members of the Georgia Tech Community,

As we near the end of the semester, I need to bring to your attention an increase in Covid-19 cases on campus.

This weekend, the seven-day moving average of daily reported cases surpassed 14 for the first time since September 9. There has also been a steady increase in positivity in our surveillance testing program, with the seven-day moving average reaching 0.77% as of November 8, a level we had not seen since September 7. While the average rate of positivity is still under 1%, it has increased steadily over the past few days. For context, the seven-day moving average was just 0.35% on November 1.

We must work together to stop the increase now. Health experts, including Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director of Stamps Health Center, warn that much of this growth is driven by small student gatherings and interactions with people you might think are not at risk or who you believe follow more safety protocols than most. That false sense of security can lead to complacency. We’ve heard from many of you who have witnessed this on and around campus.

Even if you aren’t in a high-risk population, we know the virus spreads easily, can circulate quickly, and could lead to severe health problems. Most importantly, we want you to be able to finish this semester and return home or travel safely during the semester break, reducing any risk of spread to loved ones and people you may come in contact with.

There are simple ways to do this:

  • Practice distancing, wear face coverings when you are together, and wash your hands or sanitize often.
  • Spend time outdoors and meet others outdoors as much as possible.
  • Limit interactions with others in close quarters; get together with friends in larger spaces where you can spread out.
  • Do not participate in large gatherings without safety protocols in place.
  • Test weekly.
  • Quarantine if you feel you’ve been at risk of exposure.
  • Isolate immediately and participate in contact tracing if you’ve tested positive.
  • Continue all safety practices even if you’ve completed isolation after contracting Covid-19. This includes distancing, use of face coverings, and hygiene precautions.

I am so grateful to our community for banding together and getting us to this point. I urge you all to continue to stay the course so we can complete this semester successfully. Remember: Jackets protect Jackets.

—Ángel

October 28, 2020 — Spring Instruction Message for Students

Dear Georgia Tech Students:

Coming together as a community now is more important than ever. The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. I am so thankful for the resiliency and spirit of our community this semester. Faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff have continued to provide their critical support to our academic mission. The semester has been tough, but we know the campus community will continue to work together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our own faculty and staff experts have been involved in all areas of our planning. Our campus surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a consistent commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, have continued to keep transmission low throughout our community. The U.S. has seen a recent rise in cases, and as reported last week, we have also seen a small uptick in positive cases on campus. Persistence and a return to basics — Test. Mask. Distance. — are necessary to get us through the fall as safely as possible and will be key to all members of the Georgia Tech community going home for the holidays, healthy.

Spring Plan – Safely Increasing On-Campus Presence
Our efforts to keep our community safe this semester have inevitably reduced opportunities for social and academic face-to-face interaction. We have received feedback from students feeling at times isolated and missing a more engaged academic experience. We have learned much this semester about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely improve our campus experience.

For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction, to include regular, prescheduled in-person meetings in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by the following two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount and we will continue to keep instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience as critical to our mission.

This plan was developed in close coordination and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and members of academic leadership, including college deans and school chairs, among others, as well as feedback received from a student survey and focus groups conducted by the Academic Restart Task force. While we will increase personal engagement for our students, we will also maintain the necessary flexibility to balance health and safety with the pedagogical needs of each course.

Spring Plan – Course Modes and Key Dates
As in the current semester, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations. For the spring, however, we will take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering.

We know this information is critical to help you select courses that best support your academic progression and allow you to make timely decisions around housing, travel, and other personal matters. For this reason, hybrid course instructors will clearly outline in-person expectations and be explicit about details regarding assessments, attendance expectations, and other pertinent course details. Note: attendance policies are set by individual instructors.

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar and refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers.

Student Accommodations
Students may request an accommodation through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) due to 1) presence of a condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or 2) identification as an individual at higher risk for Covid-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit the Campus Guidelines for more information about higher risk definitions and requesting an accommodation. Students already registered with ODS and approved for accommodations this fall term should contact ODS directly with any questions regarding their spring accommodations request.

International Students
Georgia Tech values and supports our international student community, and we know that current and newly admitted international students continue to face various issues related to travel restrictions or visa matters. The Office of International Education maintains several online resources, including virtual 1:1 advising sessions and FAQs, to assist in planning and decision-making and should be consulted with any detailed questions about a student’s specific immigration or visa situation. Visit the Office of International Education for more information.

Looking Ahead to Spring
Thanks to all of you who have shared your ideas and concerns, but also for your creativity and resourcefulness that have brought Georgia Tech’s unique character and problem-solving to our ongoing planning. We will continue to listen. As we approach the end of the semester, your instructors and advisors are ready to assist and support you in any way they can. Please know that if you need additional support, there are other student support services available through the CARE Center, Counseling Center, and Stamps Health Services. Above all, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and others during these challenging times.

Take care,
Steven McLaughlin, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

October 28, 2020 — Spring Instruction Message for Faculty and Staff

Dear Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff:

Coming together as a community now is more important than ever. The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. I am so thankful for the resiliency and spirit of our community this semester. Faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff have continued to provide their critical support to our academic mission. The semester has been tough, but we know the campus community will continue to work together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our own faculty and staff experts have been involved in all areas of our planning. Our campus surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a consistent commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, have continued to keep transmission low throughout our community. The U.S. has seen a recent rise in cases, and as reported last week, we have also seen a small uptick in positive cases on campus. Persistence and a return to basics — Test. Mask. Distance. — are necessary to get us through the fall as safely as possible and will be key to all members of the Georgia Tech community going home for the holidays, healthy.

Spring Plan – Safely Increasing On-Campus Presence
Our efforts to keep our community safe this semester have inevitably reduced opportunities for social and academic face-to-face interaction. We have received feedback from students feeling at times isolated and missing a more engaged academic experience. We have learned much this semester about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely improve our campus experience.

For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction, to include regular, prescheduled in-person meetings in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by the following two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount and we will continue to keep instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience as critical to our mission.

This plan was developed in close coordination and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and members of academic leadership, including college deans and school chairs, among others. While we will increase personal engagement for our students, we will also maintain the necessary flexibility to balance health and safety with the pedagogical needs of each course.

What We’ve Learned
As we prepare for the spring semester, we want to build on what is working well and use what we have learned this fall to make improvements where needed. This fall, we gathered more than 6,000 student survey responses and talked to more than 200 students, faculty, and teaching assistants (TA) through listening sessions. Among the highlights, and a true testament to Georgia Tech’s outstanding faculty and academic staff, the data revealed that on average nine out of 10 student survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their instructors have been empathetic and flexible with them during the pandemic. Some of the feedback was not as positive. Feedback showed us very clearly that students want more in-person experiences. We also heard various reports of difficulties around the hybrid model, including inconsistent personal engagement that left students feeling isolated, technology challenges associated with both synchronous and asynchronous delivery, and an increase in the amount of time needed to prepare and deliver courses. Read the student survey and focus groups summary report.

The community has provided us with many valuable insights. For example, the data suggest that short, pre-recorded asynchronous lecture content combined with opportunities for engagement in synchronous sessions works well. We know how widely academic disciplines can differ in their teaching approaches so we will coordinate teaching recommendations that are collated at the unit/program level. So, while our principles and goals are discipline-neutral, the ways that instructors will teach are particular to their disciplinary expertise to meet the unique needs of each course, the discipline, and student populations.

With this community feedback in mind, we will approach the spring course modes with the following goals:

  • Continue to be guided by the scientific evidence concerning the transmission and mitigation of the coronavirus, including recommended personal hygiene and physical distancing behaviors, consistent participation in surveillance testing, and appropriate preparedness and responsiveness to any positive cases within the Georgia Tech community.
  • Maximize the number of courses offered in residential and hybrid course modes.
  • For hybrid courses, increase the number of meaningful and regular interactions to provide students greater opportunity for personal engagement with faculty, academic staff, and peers.
  • Maximize synchronous interaction whenever possible, even when combined with asynchronous lecture content, and engage students in high-quality remote instruction when in-person or hybrid instruction is not possible.
  • Be clear and consistent in all our communication about course and attendance expectations.

Academic Calendar, Course Modes, and Instructional Support

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar; refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers; and additional resources to support faculty and academic staff. These plans are consistent with the expectations of the Board of Regents as specified in the resolution approved on Oct. 13, 2020.

Course Modes

Similar to the fall, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations.

However, as we move forward into the spring, we do need to take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering as determined by the instructor in consideration of the unique pedagogical needs of the classes. This information is critical to help students select courses that best support their academic progression and allow them to make timely decisions around housing, travel, and other personal matters.

For this reason, any hybrid course instructor should clearly outline in-person expectations and be explicit about the attendance policies in those courses. To accomplish this, the faculty and instructors are to provide as much detail as possible in the Course Descriptions Tool on or before Sunday, Nov. 1.

These expectations should also be clearly communicated in the course syllabus. Please note that the Institute's attendance policies have not changed, and following standard practice, instructors will set attendance policies for their respective courses.

Instructional Resources and Development Opportunities

Several resources are available to faculty, TAs, and instructional staff to support planning and instruction during the current semester and as they plan for spring. The Georgia Tech Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy (GTRHTA) can help instructors prepare for teaching in remote or hybrid environments. The GTRHTA provides asynchronous, self-paced resources in a Canvas course. Synchronous, expert-led sessions are also available to complement these resources, providing opportunities for deeper interaction with instructors on a variety of approaches and technologies.

Faculty, TAs, and instructional staff are encouraged to access these resources to learn more about available information on technologies for synchronous and asynchronous delivery; increasing student-content, student-student, and student-instructor interaction; optional digital proctoring; electronic assessment tools; student feedback tools; and insights on teaching effectiveness. One-on-one consultations and technology assistance are also available through our experts in the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Tech Professional Education, and the Office of Information Technology.

More broadly, the Center for Teaching and Learning offers many resources on a wide range of issues around teaching and learning. Visit ctl.gatech.edu to find helpful information on special topics as well as professional development opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and TAs.

Looking Ahead to the Spring
We have consistently turned to our community of faculty, staff, students, and parents for guidance. Thanks to all of you who have shared your ideas and concerns, but also for your creativity and resourcefulness that have brought Georgia Tech’s unique character to our ongoing planning. Above all, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and others during these challenging times.

Take care,
Steven McLaughlin, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

October 23, 2020 — Sticking with New Habits

One of the hardest things in life is maintaining the energy and persistence it takes to sustain a change in habit. If you’ve ever tried to stick to a diet or exercise routine, you know how hard even healthy habits are to maintain.

The Georgia Tech community has accomplished a remarkable feat in adapting to a completely new campus and life experience over this semester. Since August, we have been wearing masks and adapting to new instruction modes and new requirements for research. We’ve joined in an entirely new system of testing for Covid-19 that requires everyone acting together to be successful.

And it has been a success. Our transmission rates have dropped and stayed below 1% for several weeks. But we are not finished. The race is not won.

We have just four weeks left in the semester, and we have noticed some complacency setting in. A slight uptick in positive tests confirms these observations. Our success may have led to some relaxing, but this is no time to take a break. This is the time to redouble our efforts. Stay vigilant — for the good of yourself and those around you.

For a quick and easy reminder of the steps you can take to keep transmission rates low, visit Campus Guidelines Overview.

As President Cabrera reminded us last month, “This isn’t the first time people have had to work together for health and safety, and to me it illustrates the resilience of the Georgia Tech community. Please stay the course — for yourselves, your friends, your colleagues, and your families.”

This call to action is simple. Go back to the basics. Test. Mask. Distance. We know this formula works. We must have the persistence to see it through.

October 16, 2020 — Keys to Completing This Semester Safely

Members of the Georgia Tech Community,

I want to thank our students, faculty, and staff who have worked together to make the Fall 2020 semester possible. And I also want to remind all of us to continue to fight this fight. Your help and cooperation have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus on campus and have allowed our community to move forward. But the risk hasn’t gone away.

This week, we have seen a slight increase in cases. Between Oct. 12 and yesterday, Oct. 15, our moving seven-day average rose from an average of 1.85 cases per day to about 3.5. We cannot let our guard down.

The reality is that Covid-19 is still a significant health risk for our community. Whether or not we experience any symptoms, if we pass on the virus to someone else, other people’s health — and even lives — can be at risk. It is essential that we do whatever we can to avoid getting infected and, if we do, that we isolate to protect others.

I am exceedingly proud of what our community has accomplished over the past several months. By following all guidance and protocols, we have curbed the number of infections in our community. And by testing regularly, we’ve been able to isolate and quarantine and, therefore, protect others from getting infected. Let’s keep it up!

We still have several weeks ahead of us. Please stay the course — for yourselves, your friends, your colleagues, and your families. Let’s not be complacent. We can do that!

For our success to continue, it’s essential we all participate in our surveillance testing program every week. I’m delighted that so many of us are already doing this, and we need to keep it up. I am particularly grateful to our Greek organizations, which have been key in increasing testing numbers. However, we have to stay diligent and drive up campus participation as close to 100% as we can. We publish our data online every day, and I encourage you to monitor our progress.

I am grateful also to the Ramblin’ Reck Club, the Alumni Association, Athletics, Campus Services, and all student leaders who’ve helped keep our Homecoming traditions alive. I truly enjoyed last weekend’s parade, and I very much look forward to all the events this weekend.

I encourage you to participate in and celebrate our best Yellow Jacket traditions and to do so while adhering to our regular safety precautions. I know we can do that.

Whether it’s getting together with friends in a small gathering or attending the football game on Saturday afternoon, please remain diligent and continue to wear your face coverings, practice physical distancing, and maintain recommended hygiene practices such as using hand sanitizer and washing your hands.

For those of you who have completed isolation after contracting Covid-19, it’s important that you continue to practice all recommended distancing, face covering, and hygiene precautions for your own health as well as the health of others.

To date, we’ve exceeded all expectations this semester. Let’s continue to stay safe and productive, so we can complete a successful semester. Jackets protect Jackets.

–Ángel Cabrera

September 29, 2020 — Enhancing Our Covid-19 Reporting Data

As we near the midpoint in the semester, we want to take a few moments to share some new developments to our tracking and reporting systems as well as remind campus of the importance of regular and repeated surveillance testing.

One consistent bit of feedback we’ve heard is the request for more details about testing and related results. While we’ve been reporting total case counts and details about campus impact since March, we understand the need for more information. Our new Covid-19 dashboard, created by the Georgia Tech Enterprise Data Management team, will address many of those requests, combining information found on multiple pages into a single source, incorporating more data visualization and filtering options, and providing enhanced transparency in a consolidated presentation. Updates will be posted each day around 10 a.m. We hope you will find it useful in monitoring rates of infection on campus.

Keen observers will note small discrepancies in our archived information. This stems from a recent audit in which a few duplicate reports were identified as well as some positive cases who were notified but not publicly reported on the correct day. In particular, the surveillance testing results that previously were accessed via mytest.gatech.edu did not account for duplicate positive reports. The data on the new dashboard removes all duplicates.

Our multi-pronged surveillance and diagnostic system is working well, and the low rate of infection reflects both the community’s vigilance with safe social behavior and our effectiveness to both identify and isolate asymptomatic carriers early. This is a tremendous accomplishment that would not be possible without a large community effort. Thanks to all of you who have adopted the appropriate precautions necessary to keep our modified campus operations running so well.

That said, let us remain focused on the goal: There are 14 weeks in the semester, and we are beginning week seven.

The biggest campus obstacle we face now is complacency. Continued low numbers of reported positive cases may make it seem as if the risk is elsewhere, and leave some on campus with the impression that maintaining a weekly testing schedule isn’t necessary. We must all be careful to avoid this type of thinking.

We have heard from our students that there is a desire for greater face-to-face interaction. If we want to responsibly increase campus activities — academic, social, or otherwise — we need to continue our high testing percentages. Surveillance testing, in particular, is most effective when most of the population participates. We believe that if everyone tested every week, we would be able to resume normal campus operations much more quickly.

We can be justifiably proud of our early results, while also mindful that we have eight weeks to go for a successful semester. Stay vigilant, get tested, and tell your friends, classmates, and co-workers to do the same. We’re all in this together.

September 18, 2020 — Stay the Course

Members of the Georgia Tech community,

We continue to make progress in our efforts to control the coronavirus spread in our campus community. I would like to thank students, faculty, and staff for your ongoing engagement and support, and ask you to keep it up.

Our asymptomatic surveillance testing system has seen our daily positive rate fall consistently below 1% in the past week. For context, we were close to 1% right after move-in in mid-August, then grew past 4% on August 25. Since September 8, the average daily rate has been just 0.6%.

In terms of total reported positive across asymptomatic, symptomatic, and self-reported cases, the seven-day trailing average reached 58 daily cases on August 30 and was down to nine as of yesterday. Since August 14, we have reported 770 cases, 96% of them students.

The asymptomatic surveillance testing program is helping us identify and isolate clusters and focus additional testing in areas at risk. Your participation remains essential for this program to be effective, as success depends on the continued comprehensive participation from the campus community. Thank you for continuing to test every week.

Thank you, most importantly, for continuing to do your part to lower contagion risk in the first place. Thank you for wearing your mask, maintaining physical distancing, practicing recommended hygiene, avoiding large gatherings, and spending time outdoors.

This weekend we will host our first home football game of the season. The Athletics team has put into place a number of precautions to allow our student-athletes to compete and a small portion of fans to enjoy the game in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Those precautions include contactless ticketing and low-contact concession sales, physical distancing, and no tailgating or gatherings of any size.

I am reminded of the photo taken at a Tech game in October 1918 by Tech alumnus Thomas F. Carter during the influenza pandemic with just about everyone wearing a mask. This isn’t the first time people have had to work together for health and safety, and to me it illustrates the resilience of the Georgia Tech community. We can have fun, celebrate our historied football team, and keep our community safe!

I am proud of what our community has done so far to contain infection. But we are just a third of the way through the semester, and this is no time to be complacent. Please stay the course — for yourselves, your friends, your colleagues, and your families. Jackets protect Jackets.

–Ángel Cabrera

Covid-19 Surveillance Data

September 16, 2020 - Preparing for Gameday

This Saturday will be Tech’s first home football game played amid the pandemic. While the return of football to The Flats will have fans excited — especially following Tech’s season opening win against Florida State University — new protocols will be in place to mitigate risk.

No on-campus tailgating will be permitted for Saturday’s game against the University of Central Florida, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.

Chairs, grills, and coolers will not be permitted outside of an individual’s vehicle, and no loitering or gatherings of any size will be permitted in any on-campus area outside of the Bobby Dodd Stadium footprint for Saturday’s game. Those who purchased parking passes for RV lots are still permitted to park their RVs on campus but will not be permitted to participate in any tailgating activities outside of their vehicles. More information is available from Georgia Tech Athletics.

Athletics has implemented additional safety protocols for all fans for the season, including required face coverings for all attendees age 2 and older. The bag policy has also been updated — the only bags allowed will be one 1-gallon clear/resealable “Ziploc” style bag per fan. All other bags, including clear bags and small clutches previously permitted, are prohibited from Bobby Dodd Stadium in 2020. View the full list of protocols in place for this season.

Students, faculty, and staff who plan to attend the game are encouraged to get their weekly surveillance test completed as soon as possible in order to obtain results prior to Saturday’s event — to provide assurance they are not putting other fans at risk. View the list of testing sites and operating hours for this week

We are also encouraging use of the exposure tracking app NOVID. If you have an iOS or Android smartphone, please install NOVID, make sure Bluetooth is on and allow NOVID to access your microphone. If you are using Android, allow the app to access your GPS. NOVID does not track your location or record sounds; the app only measures the distance to other phones. If you are faculty, staff, or a student at Georgia Tech, join the Tech community by typing the code JACKETS into the settings screen. Everybody else can use the standard version of NOVID (no community code necessary). All versions of the app will communicate with each other to register exposures and notifications. For more information, visit covid-central.gatech.edu/app/novid.

All attendees should also practice physical distancing as much as possible, and remain in their own seated sections as much as possible once in the stadium.

September 7, 2020 - Tracking Coronavirus on Campus
 

To the Members of the Georgia Tech Community:

I want to thank you for all you have done over the past weeks to contain the spread of Covid-19 in our community. I know it hasn’t been easy on anyone — students, faculty, or staff. But we are beginning to see signs of improvement thanks to all the precautions taken by everyone, the intensive surveillance testing system we are regularly participating in, and the careful isolation and quarantining of positive cases and those who have been exposed to them. As we come back from Labor Day weekend, it is particularly important that we all commit to being tested. If we keep our guard up, and we all continue to do our part, I am confident that we will be able to contain the health risk while we deliver on our important education, research, and service missions. 

Here are some of the datapoints that make me cautiously optimistic. Since the start of the fall semester, the number of new daily cases in our community grew from low single digits to a peak of 91 on August 27, then it began declining to as low as four cases on September 7.* The seven-day trailing average, a less noisy signal, peaked at 58 cases on August 30 and has since declined to 21 as of September 7. Surveillance testing of asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff found 117 positives among 6,975 samples collected during the first week of class (1.7%), 261 out of 10,080 during the second week (2.6%), and 130 out of 9,225 this past week (1.4%).
 
Of the cases reported between August 17 (the first day of classes) and September 6, more than 95% (or 634) were students. Over that period, the number of daily cases among staff and faculty has remained at the same low single-digit levels we registered prior to move-in. The data from surveillance testing shows that the de-densification of classrooms and workspaces; the safety measures established in all our facilities; and the commitment of our community to physical distancing, increased hygiene, and wearing masks while on campus are having the intended effects.
 
I realize that a big part of the college experience is the social life that happens outside the classroom — in residence halls, Greek houses, off-campus apartments, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, that is also our biggest vulnerability in terms of infection spread. Our challenge is to find safe forms of social interaction that enrich students’ lives without putting anyone at risk.
 
I very much appreciate what our students have done to avoid large gatherings, especially indoors and in settings where it is difficult to maintain adequate physical distancing. I encourage students to remain vigilant and to continue to avoid risky situations. And I encourage our entire community to creatively think of ways to facilitate safe social interactions. For example, our Facilities team has installed several tents throughout campus that can be used to host outdoor events while significantly reducing the risk of contagion relative to indoor spaces. Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students John Stein and his team have planned a number of safe outdoor and physically distanced events and are ready to support any ideas students may have that can enrich campus life without putting anyone at risk.
 
On the academic side, the efforts of our faculty to transform their courses into a hybrid format have been instrumental in reducing density in our classrooms and academic buildings. Yet these changes have inevitably also reduced the opportunities for students to interact with their faculty and with other students in their classes. As our data continues to support the effectiveness of our campus safety protocols, I encourage our faculty to think of additional ways to facilitate safe face-to-face learning interactions that will enrich the academic experience of our students.
 
Finally, I’d like to remind anyone on campus to test weekly. A team of faculty, staff, and students has built from scratch an impressive surveillance testing infrastructure involving multiple sample collection sites; a novel, painless saliva-based PCR test; an information system to capture and analyze data and distribute results; and a double-pooling process that has allowed us to process more than 2,000 samples daily. The system has been critical in our efforts to understand patterns of infection on our campus, and has allowed us to quickly identify and contain outbreaks. But the system only works if all of us commit to testing every week. This is a simple thing all of us can do to help the entire community.
 
These are difficult times posing difficult questions without easy answers. The creativity, ingenuity, and resilience that we witness every day at Georgia Tech, the attitude of service and care for the safety of one another, and the commitment to our purpose of Progress and Service are our biggest strengths in navigating them.
 
 
___________________
Ángel Cabrera
President, Georgia Tech
 
Twitter: @CabreraAngel
*The original message emailed to the Georgia Tech community incorrectly stated "four cases on September 6." This was corrected to “four cases on September 7.” All confirmed cases are noted at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/health-alerts.
 
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 28, 2020 - More Testing Encouraged as Campus Cases Rise

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Health and Exposure page or the Surveillance Testing data, you are likely aware that we have seen an uptick in positive cases throughout the week.

We do not like to see any increase in people with positive cases, and we are working hard to isolate and quarantine ill and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff, and put in new preventive measures to protect the health and safety of our campus community. These measures include creating pop-up testing sites to identify potential carriers of Covid-19 quickly and working with students in Greek houses to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Our multi-pronged testing approach was created to help us respond quickly to limit problem areas and project where new areas of concern may arise so we can get ahead of them. The goal is to identify people with Covid-19 early and isolate them so they can better care for themselves and protect the campus community.

Our faculty, experts in biological sciences, created the testing program we are using. Those experts have told us that an 80-90% participation rate in our testing program will make it successful. We are closing in on that rate. And we are diligently assessing daily and weekly Covid-19 trends on campus and deploying mobile test units to address these trends.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and act in accordance with the advice of our own experts and all appropriate health authorities. In the meantime, we strongly encourage all students, staff, and faculty to get tested weekly. You can learn about all testing options at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/testing.

Please know that we are committed to the health and safety of every Georgia Tech student, faculty, and staff member, and we are committed to transparency about all aspects of our campus life, including those related to positive Covid-19 cases in our community. We will continue to share details as they are available.

August 23, 2020 - Actions to Take Due to Increase in Positive Covid-19 Cases

Throughout the weekend, we had an increase in positive Covid-19 cases. As such, we are updating you today to alert you to some new health and safety measures Georgia Tech is adding and some precautions you should take.

Many of the positive cases took place among the community of students living in Greek houses near campus. We have identified two clusters in Greek houses, the one we reported on Friday and a smaller one within another Greek house this weekend. Quick action from the individuals who tested positive, teamed with Georgia Tech’s multi-pronged surveillance and diagnostic testing, notification and tracing program helped catch the increase quickly. We have isolated the residents of the houses with the most cases, and tested almost all Greek house residents on Saturday using mobile surveillance testing units. Increased testing will continue today and throughout the week at Greek housing and on-campus housing.

It is critically important that all members of the campus community get tested weekly. This will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 on campus and allow us to continue to offer in-person teaching and learning.

Since August 8 we’ve tested more than 9,000 members of the Georgia Tech community through the free surveillance testing program. That is a great start, and we must continue the effort at the same pace throughout the semester to stay healthy and safe.

You can visit any of the free surveillance testing locations on or off campus. If you are a symptomatic student, please visit Stamps Health Center. Students, faculty, and staff who are symptomatic can also visit the free Fulton County walk-up testing site located in the McCamish Pavilion parking lot. Details about all testing options can be found here.

In addition, our student code explicitly prohibits behavior that endangers any person(s), including self. Hosting on- or off-campus events of any size that do not allow for social distancing or don’t take precautionary measures, such as additional hand sanitation stations and disinfecting protocols, and required face coverings, will be considered violations of the student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. Hiding a positive case puts others at risk. Failing to isolate or quarantine when required to do so puts others at risk. Consequently, actions that threaten the health and safety of our community will result in swift and considerable disciplinary action.

Testing positive is not an offense. On the contrary, if you find out you tested positive, you have an opportunity to stay healthy, to seek help, and, very importantly, to help keep others healthy.

Please focus on the actions you can take to keep yourself and your community safe. We have seen some of the negative discourse taking place; it is not productive nor will it keep our community healthy.

 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.

For more information about testing or any other important health and safety precautions to take, please visit the Campus Guidelines pages on the Tech Moving Forward website.

August 20, 2020 - Getting Tested Weekly

Please note: Some of the information below has been updated since this announcement was made. Please visit Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours for the most up-to-date information.


This week Georgia Tech returned to full-time, in-person learning and research after being primarily remote for the past five months. 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 here on campus. One of the most important new habits is making sure that all of us get tested once per week. 

Our very own Georgia Tech faculty, who are top researchers in their field, have created a simple, effective testing program to reduce transmission of Covid-19 among our campus community. We are asking everyone who is on campus or who visits campus more than once a week to go to one of three sites that have been set up for asymptomatic testing. Two testing sites — one at gate 5 of Bobby Dodd Stadium and one at Curran Street Parking Deck — are open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For those living and working in Tech Square, a third asymptomatic testing location at 760 Spring Street is open Wednesdays and Fridays between noon and 5 p.m., and Thursdays between noon at 7 p.m.

The entire process is contactless and takes fewer than five minutes to complete and only requires you to provide a small saliva sample, which will then be tested in an on-campus lab. You will be notified of the results by email within 48 hours. This video helps to further explain the testing process.

As with other preventive measures such as handwashing, wearing a face covering, and social distancing, surveillance testing is crucial to helping keep the coronavirus transmission rate low. Because we know that a person who is asymptomatic can spread the virus, surveillance testing is effective at identifying potential hot spots, which in turn enables Georgia Tech to react more quickly in our notifications and break the chain of infection early.

Make testing a regular part of your weekly routine. Go to mytest.gatech.edu, sign up, and then walk up any time to test. Before you leave, set a notification to come back every week through the end of the semester.

Thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe. Complete information regarding all of the testing options available to the campus community is available at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/testing-launched.

August 17, 2020 - Campus Coronavirus Testing

Earlier this week, we shared some initial information about campuswide Covid-19 testing for both asymptomatic and symptomatic students, faculty, and staff. Our goal was to give you an overview of what to expect for testing, contact tracing, and exposure notifications. We committed to sharing more details about testing options as the information became available. Today, we want to outline all of the testing options we’ll be providing to the campus community during the fall semester.

On the Georgia Tech Launches Campus Coronavirus Testing page, you’ll find details about:

  • Free surveillance testing that will allow us to test as many as 1,500 asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff daily.
  • Free diagnostic testing options for symptomatic students, faculty, and staff.
  • Contact tracing and notification.
  • Key dates, locations, and contact information for all testing, tracing, and notification operations.
August 14, 2020 -  What You Need to Know About Testing Notifications

Many of you have participated in the free surveillance testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff that Georgia Tech is offering. The testing continues to be available, and we are suggesting that all students, faculty and staff get tested weekly. In addition, Georgia Tech is offering a variety of free diagnostic testing for students, faculty and staff. You can learn more about how and where to get tested here.

But then what? After you go through testing, how will you be notified about your test results? Or, if you want to better understand the health of the community, where should you look?

Notifications to Individuals Who Have Participated in Surveillance Testing

The surveillance testing in Georgia Tech’s CLIA-certified lab relies on a pooled testing approach that combines samples from multiple individuals and tests them as a group. Pooled testing is known to dramatically increase the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.

All individuals who participate in the surveillance testing program will receive a notification that they are either recommended or not recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test. Please add noreply-mytest@gatech.edu to your address book or email contacts list to avoid notifications being incorrectly filtered as spam.

Those individuals who are recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test will receive a notification that the lab intends to use the sample they already provided. In some cases, an individual may be asked to return to a collection site to provide a new sample which will be used for the follow-up diagnostic test.

Results from the diagnostic test will be communicated to the individual by Stamps Health Services.

Testing for students with Covid-19 symptoms is already available at Stamps Health Services at no cost, and that will continue. Symptomatic employees are asked to make an appointment with their primary care providers or refer to the state’s information resource for testing.

Other testing sites for symptomatic employees include their physician or the option of free testing at the Fulton County walk-up site to be located at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning August 18 and continuing through September 10.

Positive results using any of these diagnostic tests will be collected through Stamps Health Services. If a person received a test at Stamps or through the CLIA-certified surveillance testing, that will happen automatically. If a person received a test and results from another testing site, we ask that individual to report it via the online form at c.gatech.edu/covid19reporting.

Tracking Positive Results for the Campus Community

Notifications of confirmed cases of Covid-19 at Georgia Tech among students, faculty and staff are reported on a daily basis on the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Health and Exposure Alert Page.

As of Thursday, under the surveillance testing program 12 cases have been recommended for follow up diagnostic testing out of 1,800 tests. Aggregate data on the surveillance testing program will be available online in the next few days.

Optional Exposure Notification App

Georgia Tech has begun using NOVID, an exposure notification app that will help students, staff, and faculty be anonymously notified if they have potentially been exposed to Covid-19. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost to members of the Georgia Tech community. Information about the app is available from the Covid Central portal.

NOVID captures no personally identifiable information from users. Instead, smartphones running the app exchange synthetic codes with other smartphones that are nearby for more than a brief period of time. If the owner of one of the phones tests positive for the virus, they can notify other app users who they have been in contact with, without identifying themselves or sharing any personal information.

In a large community, exposure notification apps can fill in the gaps by finding individuals who might have been close enough to be exposed to the virus but not known to the individual with a positive test result. These scenarios could include, for instance, someone working nearby in a makerspace or lab — or working out on nearby equipment at the gym.

Installed on an iOS or Android smartphone, the app exchanges information with other phones also running the app. It records a frequently changing code to other devices so they can be alerted if necessary — but without sharing any personally identifiable information. Pairs of code interactions are stored on the NOVID server for a limited period of time.

NOVID leverages a combination of ultrasound and Bluetooth technology to note other devices that are within 6 feet, and only if they remain that close for 15 minutes or more. By briefly using the device’s microphone and measuring the time sound takes to travel, ultrasound can accurately measure the distance between devices. It does not record phones that may be nearby but on the other side of a wall, preventing notifications that may not truly involve exposure risk.

If a student receives a positive Covid-19 test at Stamps Health Services, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones the app has recorded as potential exposures. Community members who have received positive tests elsewhere on campus or off campus are required, as part of public health regulations, to report this to Stamps Health Services. They will also receive an app notification code after they have contacted Stamps.

Persons being warned through NOVID of a potential exposure will be encouraged to isolate themselves, monitor for symptoms, and be tested for the virus. The app will provide directions for how to contact relevant campus services when alerting a user that they have potentially been exposed.

Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Software Assurance Branch have evaluated NOVID for privacy protections to make sure it doesn’t record personal information that could identify users — and for cybersecurity issues to make sure it protects the device.

NOVID can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play Store. Georgia Tech community members should enter the community code JACKETS on the NOVID settings.

Tech Moving Forward

We will continue to update you each time we enhance notification and contact tracing protocols in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health. In the meantime, you can find information about this topic and all other Covid-19 campus guidelines and communications on the Tech Moving Forward website.

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. 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. 

July 8, 2020 - Updates on Fall Course Formats, Student Accommodations, and International Student Planning

To the Georgia Tech Community:

Following Monday’s updated guidance from the University System of Georgia, we know many of you have questions about how this new information will affect operations. Georgia Tech’s Recovery Task Force is intently focused on providing answers to these questions as it sets plans to safely repopulate campus. We will continue to share information as soon as we have it.

Course Formats for Fall Semester

The previously announced date of July 20 for releasing the instructional formats for the fall semester will be maintained. In the meantime, as specific course information becomes available we will update individual course listings on a rolling basis. We are aware there are deadlines that are dependent on this information. We are reviewing all deadlines and will adjust as needed to accommodate each student’s decision-making process as much as possible. We will communicate new deadlines as soon as they are set.

Student Accommodations

Students seeking an academic or employment accommodation (including graduate teaching and research assistants) should start by contacting the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at disabilityservices.gatech.edu/getting-started.

Registering with ODS is a 3-step process that includes completing an application, uploading documentation related to the accommodation request, and scheduling an appointment for an “intake meeting” (either in person or via phone or video conference) with a disability coordinator.

International Student Planning

International students, both continuing and admitted, are making decisions about academic programs and courses this fall. Since Georgia Tech is planning for a Fall 2020 semester with in-person and hybrid courses, the recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ruling indicates that our F-1 international students currently in the U.S. will be allowed to stay and keep their active F-1 status, provided the student is not taking the full course load online.

We know that there may be various issues, particularly travel restrictions or visa matters, subject to guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Currently, there are several known challenges for international students attempting to enter or return to the U.S. as student visa holders. Appropriate options for these students vary, so the Office of International Education should be consulted with any detailed questions about a specific student’s immigration or visa situation.

In addition, we’ve formed a small working group to set guidance for students who are affected by the new ICE rules related to remote learning while studying in the United States on a student visa. We should have more details to share in the coming days. Thank you for your patience and flexibility in a rapidly changing landscape. We fully recognize how eager our community is to receive answers and to gain clarity on many of these complex concerns.

Please continue to email publichealth@gatech.edu with your questions.

July 6, 2020 - Update on underlying medical conditions and the use of face coverings or masks

To the Georgia Tech Community:

Please see the communication below for updated guidance from the University System of Georgia regarding the management of Covid-19 related issues, including underlying medical conditions, and the use of face coverings or masks.


Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for managing Covid-19 related issues. Among the changes are definitions for people who will need extra precaution due to age and underlying medical conditions. In response to those changes from the CDC, the University System of Georgia (USG) is providing updated guidance on the wearing of face coverings and for who is eligible to seek alternate work arrangements due to falling into one of these categories. 

Older Adults

The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a health care provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled.

People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions

People with the following underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements under the previously developed process:

Use of Face Coverings

Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.

Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met. 

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area.  Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students.

Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

More details regarding the use of face coverings while on campus can be found here: hr.gatech.edu/face-coverings.

June 16, 2020 - Tech Moving Forward: Fall 2020

Please note: Some of the information below has been updated since this announcement was made. For the most up-to-date information and details, please visit the Campus Guidelines.


Dear Georgia Tech Community:

Today, we’re sharing our plan to safely return to campus this fall. The plan includes changes to the calendar and course delivery, strengthened health and safety protocols, and a set of personal hygiene practices for all of us.

Our goal is to bring our campus community back together and move forward safely, responsibly, and compassionately in pursuit of our important educational and research work while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety. Because of ongoing health risks, return to campus does not mean a return to the normalcy of our previous environment. Yet, with effort by each one of us and some adjustments in the way we teach, learn, and interact with one another in classrooms and labs, workspaces, and everywhere else on campus, we will be able to resume our activities and deliver on our mission while minimizing the risk for our community.

Key among the many preventive measures will be a commitment by each one of us to maintain a safe physical distance from one another and to use facial coverings whenever distancing may not be feasible. And for students, faculty, and staff who might be at higher risk of contracting Covid-19, we will establish alternative arrangements.

The information in this email will give you an overview of what our return to campus will look like, what changes to expect, what precautions we will take to keep our community safe, and what you will need to do to help everyone enjoy a healthy and productive semester. Please note that there are still details to be worked out and some of our current protocols are subject to change as more information becomes available over the coming weeks. Our commitment is to share any additions and changes as soon as possible.

The current plan draws from guidance provided by the University System of Georgia (USG), the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and all existing executive orders from the governor of Georgia.

For more information about any aspect of our return, please consult the resources available on the Tech Moving Forward website where Frequently Asked Questions are available. And, contact your academic advisors and the leaders of your unit, college, or school for individual concerns.  

We’ll need to work together to make sure we’re looking out for each other and communicating with those closest to us. If you have questions or concerns, this guide will help you find the best sources of information for each topic.

Meanwhile, we remain committed to communicating regularly about the ways Covid-19 might affect our operations. To ease any uncertainty, we will provide you with as much information as possible as quickly as possible, and we ask that you keep in mind that flexibility is key during this ever-changing global health crisis.  

OVERVIEW OF FALL PLAN


TEACHING AND LEARNING

Academic Calendar
The fall calendar looks different, but students will have the same number of contact days with instructors. Changes have been made to discourage travel, including canceling the two-day fall break currently scheduled for Oct. 5-6 and ending fall instruction by Thanksgiving break. Reading days and final assessments will be administered in a hybrid format, and the calendar will be modified, as follows:

  • Aug. 17: Start of classes  
  • Sept. 7: Labor Day holiday  
  • Nov. 23-24: Final instructional days (no new material or scheduling of any other assessments)
  • Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving break  
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 8: Reading days and final assessments  
  • Dec. 9-10 or 11-12: Commencement  

Class Types and Schedules
Aiming to retain as much face-to-face experience as possible, Fall 2020 courses will be held in one of five delivery modes, from a traditional format in cases where physical distancing is a viable option to a variety of hybrid options that leverage online technology.

The five modes include:

  • Residential: Courses/sections that are residential with physical distancing measures in place in the classroom. This is the traditional format that we are treating as the desired option.  
  • Remote with limited in-person instruction (hybrid):
    • Hybrid hands-on: Courses/sections will offer lectures via remote delivery and bring students to a classroom for hands-on, studios and lab activities with social distancing measures in place.
    • Hybrid touch points: Courses/sections will offer lectures in an online format and will bring students to the classroom several times during the semester for meaningful in-person experiences.
    • Hybrid split: Courses/sections will offer lectures both in class and through broadcast recordings using classroom technology but will also bring smaller groups of students to the classroom on a predetermined basis with social distancing measures in place
  • Remote: Courses/sections that are completely remote and delivered online (e.g., OMSCS courses).

Due to a limited supply of instructional space that can accommodate appropriate physical distancing, we will prioritize certain classes for in-person delivery: lab classes, group project classes, senior design classes, small discussion classes, and classes that require interaction with physical projects and equipment in most or all sessions. Details about which courses will be taught via which mode of instruction are still being worked out.
 
To the best of our ability, we will prioritize the courses needed by graduating students, phase in campus activities as soon as feasible, expand course delivery options and schedules to compensate for reduced class sizes due to physical distancing, expand the pool of students, and allow for flexibility in campus options.

For more information about course delivery and schedules, contact the Registrar’s Office. We’re working through additional details in consultation with college and school leaders and faculty members. We will have more information about specific courses and the mode of delivery in the coming weeks.

For more information about teaching and learning during the Fall 2020 semester, contact your academic advisor or the Office of the Provost at provostsoffice@gatech.edu.

Study Abroad and Other International Programs
We have canceled all study abroad, international internships, exchange programs, and any Georgia Tech-sponsored international curricular and co-curricular travel programs for Fall 2020. We will welcome students to our Georgia Tech-Lorraine and Georgia Tech-Shenzhen campuses on Aug. 31 and Aug. 17, respectively, and are implementing plans to minimize health risks and ensure academic continuity in the event programs are disrupted during the semester.

For more information about study abroad and other international programs, contact the Office of International Education.


CAMPUS SAFETY

Georgia Tech will retrain staff, adopt new cleaning methods, and redirect select operations to provide more time for cleaning and disinfection. Other precautions will include installation of signage to encourage best practices regarding personal hygiene and the movement of people through campus spaces, upgraded air filtration systems, workspace modifications, and staggered scheduling for on-campus community members. Setup in offices, classrooms, labs, makerspaces, etc. will be modified to facilitate physical distancing and enable cleaning and disinfection protocols.  

In order to maintain physical distancing, we will continue to encourage everyone who can telework to continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students.  

For more information about our enhanced disinfection practices, visit the Campus Guidelines.  

Screening and Testing
Georgia Tech will continue to encourage teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing, and those who can work remotely should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. For more information about work arrangements, refer to the Return-to-Campus Manager’s Tool Kit.  

We will ask all members of the community to administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions before coming to campus or leaving their residence. We will deploy thermal screening in strategic locations. When any member of the Georgia Tech community tests positive for, or is diagnosed with, Covid-19, we will follow direction and guidance from the GDPH. We will ensure that students in isolation or quarantine continue to receive dining, health, and academic services.

Testing is available for symptomatic students at Stamps Health Center. We’re exploring options to expand additional testing on campus for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff.

For more information on what to do if you start to exhibit symptoms at home or while on campus, visit the Campus Guidelines.

Personal Protective Equipment
Georgia Tech will centrally manage the acquisition and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide reusable cloth face coverings to the community before the semester begins. Usage and purchasing needs will be continuously monitored and will require input from units into the centrally managed system.   

During the fall semester, members of the Georgia Tech community are strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face covering on campus. Cloth face coverings are important in preventing transmission. There may be scenarios in which face coverings are required, and a process for documenting and approving those scenarios is being developed. All members of the Georgia Tech community who are typically required to wear a face mask or other personal protective equipment should continue to do so.

For more information about campus safety, contact Environmental Health and Safety.


HOUSING AND RESIDENCE LIFE

All triple and quadruple room occupancy will be eliminated for Fall 2020. We will work to maximize the number of single occupancy options available. To lower the risk in residence halls, we will use extensive signage and other communication touch points to strongly urge and promote physical distancing, wearing appropriate PPE, frequent handwashing, limiting close exposure to others, and maintaining overall health awareness.

We will provide all residential students with a kit upon move-in, including a thermometer, a cloth mask, health information, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and wipes, and tips for how residents can best access campus services, such as periodic disinfectant fogging. Move-in and move-out procedures will be staggered to limit crowding in hallways and elevators.   

For more information about Housing, contact Housing and Residence Life.

Dining
Changes for Fall 2020 include eliminating salad bars, buffets, and soup stations and providing grab-and-go options at all dining halls. Food will be prepackaged in single-serving containers. Dining hall staff will serve all food that is not prepackaged. We will reduce the seating capacity of each dining hall and increase the number of standalone market stands, food carts, and food trucks to encourage physical distancing.

All staff will wear appropriate PPE for food service and cleanliness as outlined in CDC guidelines, all dining operations will temporarily shut down after meal shifts for thorough cleaning, and each facility will be disinfected overnight.

For more information, visit Dining Services.


STUDENT LIFE

Student Organizations
Student organizations will be asked to follow physical distancing guidelines. We encourage staff to offer appointments, meetings, and trainings in a hybrid model (online and in person), and we encourage organizations to move events, activities, and meetings online whenever possible. Access to common spaces will be limited, and in-person functions will require everyone to wear PPE. If organizations cannot readily move events, activities, and meetings online, student leaders will be encouraged to revise event plans to provide strict physical distancing guidelines or consider postponement or cancellation.

Student Resources
The Campus Recreation Center; Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE); Counseling Center; Ferst Center for the Arts; Health Initiatives; Health Services; Library; Student Center; and other campus resources will be open but will follow USG and public health guidelines. Whenever possible, guests may request virtual meetings. More details will be available in the coming weeks. 

For more information, contact the Vice President and Dean of Students or the Division of Student Life.  


ATHLETICS

The Georgia Tech Athletic Association is researching and working on a plan for a possible return to competitive operations in Fall 2020. Any return to competitive athletics will follow guidance from the NCAA, Atlantic Coast Conference, USG, and government health authorities.


EVENTS

Campus event spaces will operate with reduced occupancy and physical distancing practices. All campus visitors and attendees at campus events will be expected to follow Georgia Tech’s health and safety guidelines. All campus events will be subject to a central review process, we will limit event attendance to comply with social distancing guidelines, and we will require event sponsors to produce health and safety plans to qualify for event approval.

For more information, contact Capital Planning and Space Management.


RESEARCH

At the start of the fall semester, we will continue to prioritize research requiring campus access. Additionally, research activities on hold during the summer will begin to resume. We advise all researchers to continue completing duties off-site that do not require campus access. Research at field sites will be allowed to resume depending on several factors, including travel restrictions, stay-at-home directives, and density and physical distancing requirements.

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has also outlined a plan to increase on-site presence over the course of the summer. GTRI anticipates bringing 75% or more of its workforce on-site daily by the end of the summer.  


CONTINGENCY PLANNING

Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we have prepared to move seamlessly from one method of instruction and operations to the other as public health guidance and conditions dictate. 

We’ve developed plans that respond to multiple scenarios as outlined by the University System of Georgia.

We are evaluating multiple contingency measures under the current plan. For example:

  • Residential-spread and hybrid courses will be designed with a contingency plan in place to move to remote delivery if necessary.
  • Supervisors in every department across the Institute will have their own contingency plans in place that align with USG, CDC, and GDPH guidelines and the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force.
  • All undergraduate projects that require on-campus resources will have a contingency plan in case on-campus research operations must close.

Additionally, Georgia Tech has developed an Institute-wide contingency plan for transitioning operations to remote delivery in cases of illness or in the event pandemic conditions worsen.

Employee Accommodation
Everyone should expect flexibility regarding their personal situation. Georgia Tech will continue to encourage teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing, and those who can work remotely should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students.  

Individuals who fall into one of the GDPH and CDC categories for higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 may request alternate work arrangements via Georgia Tech’s Human Resources Office. Employees who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should plan to return to campus as scheduled and work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors known to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Employees may utilize appropriate leave options as necessary, and they should contact the Human Resources Office to identify appropriate leave options.

For more information about work arrangements and leave options for employees unable to return to campus, refer to the Return-to-Campus Manager’s Tool Kit.

To request paid sick leave or expanded family medical leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), visit the Human Resources’ FFCRA portal.


WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

Thank you for your patience as we work toward creating the possibility for us to safely return to our vibrant campus in the fall. We know this is a lot of information. That’s why we’re here to support you every step of the way.

For more information about any aspect of our plan to resume in-person instruction in August, please consult our Tech Moving Forward website and our Frequently Asked Questions.

May 28, 2020 - Tech Moving Forward: A Phased Approach

Please note: Some of the information below has been updated since this announcement was made. For the most up-to-date information and details, please visit the Campus Guidelines.


Over the past few months, the Georgia Tech community has been called upon to respond to circumstances that have altered every previous reality of our daily lives. The Yellow Jacket community has proven every bit as resilient and compassionate as we could have hoped, working together to support, help, and protect one another — all while contributing to the global fight against Covid-19.

The central questions now are when and how to return to our vibrant campus. Ultimately, we want to return as safely as we possibly can, communicating clearly about the risks that still exist with Covid-19 but determined to move forward safely, responsibly, and compassionately. We recognize that many are understandably anxious about how this may be accomplished. 

In April, President Ángel Cabrera appointed a recovery task force to guide and oversee planning for the eventual resumption of Institute operations. The task force, led by Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff Frank Neville, submitted a plan to the University System of Georgia on Friday, May 15. Relying on expertise and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), and Governor Kemp’s Covid-19 Task force, Georgia Tech’s initial return-to-campus plan outlines a phased approach that prioritizes employee health and safety while providing for the delivery of critical services and preparing for the resumption of in-person campus-based instruction in August 2020.

Who Should Report to In-Person Work and When 

Supervisors will provide specific direction to their teams on when to return to in-person work. Anyone with questions about what category they fit into or when or how they should start reporting to work in person should, first, ask his or her supervisor. A phased plan for returning to in-person work has been created to guide those choices. Note: all non-essential travel is prohibited until further notice. 

In June, the ramp-up will begin. Only researchers and staff who must return to campus in order to carry out their job duties should return to working on campus. To reduce the number of people on campus, researchers and staff who can substantially carry out their work at home should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. Shift work and split work — part-time on campus and part-time at home — are encouraged to lower personnel density.

In mid-June and July, staff that support student services will be invited back to campus as we work toward an anticipated return to in-person teaching during Fall 2020. 

In late July, staff who do not directly support research or student services will continue to work remotely until further notice or may begin returning to work in staggered shifts. 

Georgia Tech has identified six categories of campus-based operations and services that will either be continued, enhanced, or resumed prior to the anticipated start of in-person instruction in August 2020. Specific guidance and information on each category are available in the detailed summer plan.

  • Ongoing activities related to support for on-campus students.  
  • Broadening of research activities from the current essential research to a phased return of all sponsored (essential and nonessential) research activity.  
  • Operations and services that will need to be conducted in anticipation of the start of in-person instruction in August 2020.
  • The final three categories include operations and services that may be resumed during the summer, pending additional guidance from the USG, public health authorities, and the NCAA. These are:
  • In-person non-credit classes.  
  • Summer camps and other community events. Student-athlete training and team activities.

 
For all administrative units and academic departments not explicitly covered in the plan, the following guidelines shall apply:

  1. Telework is encouraged for those positions able to perform job functions remotely.  
  2. Administrative units and academic departments that perform customer services or other functions that require on-campus preparations (reconfiguring space, adding signage, practicing new service protocols, etc.) prior to the start of the fall semester are asked to submit specific summer return-to-work plans that are compliant with all existing workplace health and safety guidance.
  3. In their return-to-work plans, units and departments should:
    1. Clearly specify employees who are required to work in-person in order to complete the necessary fall preparations.
    2. Include appropriate measures for social distancing that may involve staggered shifts and other scheduling adjustments.

Once those plans are complete, affected staff will be notified directly about the details related to their return to work.

Who Is Affected?

Campus groups affected immediately include additional essential research personnel and custodial and facilities employees. 

Only researchers and staff who must return to campus in order to carry out their job duties should return to working on campus. To reduce the number of people on campus, researchers and staff who can substantially carry out their work at home should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. Shift work and split work (part-time on campus and part-time at home) are also encouraged to lower personnel density.

Employees at higher risk who are unable to return to campus due to Covid-19 and wish to request an alternate work arrangement must complete a request form and provide medical documentation detailing their needs and requested support. A request form and guidance on required documentation is available on the Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR) website. Contact your HR Business Partner for assistance.  

If an employee has been advised by a healthcare provider not to work on campus, but their work cannot be done remotely, they must provide medical documentation and may be eligible to take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  

Employees who live with or care for an individual who is considered higher risk and who are able to work remotely must provide medical documentation and will be granted a temporary accommodation to continue working remotely. Employees who are unable to perform their duties remotely may be eligible to take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

If a person and supervisor cannot resolve a conflict regarding the return to campus operations, they should contact the HR Business Partner within their respective unit.  

If you will be returning to campus, please review the information below carefully. Georgia Tech’s approach to this gradual ramp-up of activity is based on what we know about Covid-19 and the specific challenges our community faces and is guided by our commitment to the health and safety of every member of our community. 

What we Know

Here is what we know about Covid-19:

  • Covid-19 is the illness that a person infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can develop.
  • There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus.
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
  • It is possible for people who are infected to infect others before they show symptoms (pre-symptomatic) or without ever showing any symptoms (asymptomatic).
  • The virus is thought to spread primarily between people in close contact (within 6 feet of one another).
  • Good hygiene and social distancing are the current best practices to avoid exposure.

As we move toward our phased reopening, we ask each member of our community to make safety and precaution-taking a personal obligation as well. We ask that you pledge to look after your own safety and the safety of those around you. The information below explains the rationale behind the changes we anticipate, what those changes will be, how we will support them, and how you can do your part as we move forward. 

Why the Focus on Student Services and Research First

Support for on-campus students is critical because there are currently a limited number of students who have remained on campus during the Covid-19 outbreak. Students have been permitted to continue to live in campus housing if they were unable to return home or lacked suitable living arrangements. Those students who have remained on campus require services such as housing, dining, health services, transportation, and the Student Center. 

The research mission of Georgia Tech is critical because it represents one of the core missions of our institution. The output of our research programs directly impacts society in the form of new discoveries, as well as new or improved technologies. The research activities at Georgia Tech have a significant impact on national security and our local and regional economies.

Our research programs also provide learning experiences that lead to graduate degrees earned by students enrolled in programs across our six Colleges. Many of these programs have been severely affected by the rapid ramp-down to essential operations, because much graduate research requires specialized equipment or other resources that are unavailable for distance learning. 

For these reasons, it is important that we ramp up our student services and research activities in a thoughtful, deliberate, and staged manner.

Health and Safety Practices Being Implemented

As Georgia Tech increases the number of on-site community members, cleaning and disinfection efforts will increase. Buildings and labs being reopened will first undergo proper cleaning and disinfection protocols. Cleaning of labs will be performed regularly by lab managers and research personnel. They will be provided training on proper cleaning methods prior to resuming lab operations. 

Buildings that house the research activities of returning researchers will be opened and maintained using new disinfection methods. Other buildings will remain closed for the time being to allow facilities resources to be shifted to areas of higher occupancy. Those same protocols will be implemented as additional buildings on campus are opened.

New measures are being put in place all over campus to safeguard each of you:  

  • All common areas will be closed, except for those where social distancing can be maintained.
  • Elevators and bathrooms will have signs posted indicating only one person is permitted at a time.  
  • Bathroom doors will be equipped with occupancy indicators.
  • Bathrooms will be closed to anyone other than cleaners during cleaning times.
  • Instructions will be posted for proper hygiene and handwashing.
  • Signs will be posted at the entrance to buildings that no one with a fever or symptoms of Covid-19 is permitted inside the building. Contact-less thermometers will be supplied to all buildings as they reopen.
  • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
    • HR will compile a list of units or offices where mask-wearing is required due to inability to consistently practice social distancing.
  • A guidebook with health information and protocols will be available for all faculty, staff, and students.
  • The following materials will be purchased and made available in workplaces to prevent the spread of Covid-19:
    • Tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
    • Hand sanitizer.
    • Disinfectant and wipes.

Georgia Tech is also implementing a wellness check protocol to help protect the health and safety of everyone in our community. This wellness check will include temperature screenings. Contact-less thermometers will be provided onsite to staff members who are unable to screen at home. All employees should self-administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before reporting to campus. If you have a temperature greater than 100.4º F or you reply YES to any of the questions in the checklist, please follow the steps provided and do not come to work. 

These steps also apply if you begin to feel ill while at work. If that happens, notify your supervisor or manager immediately. You can find more information and download the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus

When an employee tests positive for or is diagnosed with Covid-19, the Institute will follow the direction from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The affected employee may not return to the workplace until at least 10 days have passed, symptoms have improved, and they have had no fever for at least 72 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications. Any return to work after illness will need to be coordinated with GTHR and your HR Business Partner. Employees will be required to notify the Stamps Health Center of the positive result. Stamps Health Center will interview the employee and work with the employee’s supervisor to notify any affected offices or units. Stamps Health Center will coordinate any exposure notification and contact tracing. Custodial services will clean and disinfect all areas used by the affected person.

How You Can Help Protect Yourself and Your Fellow Yellow Jackets

We recognize that many people are anxious about returning to campus. The practices below have been identified by the CDC and GDPH as best practices for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Following them is a critical responsibility for members of the Georgia Tech community. 

  • The Georgia Tech community will continue to follow and promote basic guidelines, including:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inner elbow.
  • It is strongly encouraged that cloth face coverings be worn at all times while on campus. Note: cloth face coverings are the best option for general use and allow for critical supply of surgical masks or N-95 respirators to be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Additional guidance on appropriate face covering types is below:
    • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
      • HR will compile a list of units or offices where mask-wearing is required due to inability to consistently practice social distancing.
    • Cloth face coverings are reusable and will be utilized outside of lab spaces. They may be used in lab spaces that do not contain chemical, biological, or radioactive agents as well.
    • Single-use surgical masks are required to be worn, and will be provided, while in lab spaces containing chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. In labs where chemical, biological, or radioactive agents are present, normal lab safety and PPE protocol will remain in place.
    • N-95 respirators should be worn only when required by risk assessment for specific lab research protocols and require consultation and approval of Georgia Tech Environmental Health and Safety.  
    • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
    • A limited supply of cloth face coverings will be available from EHS for employees who are unable to procure their own.  
  • Employees are expected to practice social distancing, also called physical distancing, (6 feet of separation from others) at work.
    • Each workplace should be reviewed and adjusted to maximize social distancing.
    • Meetings should be held virtually whenever possible.
    • Employees should not use one another’s phone, desk, office, computer, or other equipment. In cases where equipment is shared, it should be disinfected before and after each use.
    • Employees should not gather in groups greater than 10 persons when social distancing cannot be maintained.
    • Supervisors should allow employees to take meals outside or in separate locations.
    • Person-to-person contact, including handshaking, is prohibited.
    • Employees who are not able to maintain social distance due to the nature of their work (dining, mail service, maintenance, etc.) will be provided with the appropriate PPE.

As each phase is implemented, we want to ensure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible when it’s their turn to return to campus and to know that we are placing the highest priority on the safety of every member of our community.  
 
The Covid-19 situation is fluid, and guidance will very likely change over time, even after plans are prepared and adopted. This plan’s goals are to protect the health of employees and help ensure the well-being of the community. We all have an individual responsibility to contribute to proper behavior and to adhere to public health guidance, as well as to help contain the spread of the virus. Institutional controls are only as effective as the willingness of individuals to carry them out.  
 
Together with these Institute protocols and personal hygiene and screening measures, we can all contribute to our community being as safe as possible. We will continue to communicate future plans and as we know more. 

May 21, 2020 - Budget Revision Submission

As we continue to experience challenging times, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the state’s economy. This April, state revenues declined by more than $1 billion (or 35.9%) compared to April of last year. Further revenue declines are expected, and will likely result in serious budget reductions we must plan for now.

The University System of Georgia (USG) and all state agencies were recently asked to prepare budget plans that reduce spending by 14% in Fiscal Year 2021, which starts July 1. Nothing will be final until a budget appropriation is approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. That is expected to happen in June, as legislative leaders meet for the remainder of the 2020 legislative session and finalize the FY21 state budget. 

Chancellor Wrigley asked us to be strategic in our approach as we plan for this reduction at our institution.

In identifying possible areas for budget reductions, the plan prioritizes student academic progression and quality of instruction, and protects sponsored research that is self-funding and contributes to supporting our infrastructure and reputation. The goal is to protect as much employment as possible while acknowledging that some personnel will inevitably be affected. Any necessary personnel actions will be taken with fairness, compassion, and respect.  

April 21, 2020 - Georgia Tech’s Recovery Task Force to Guide Return to Standard Operations

President Ángel Cabrera has appointed a new task force to guide and oversee planning for the eventual resumption of Institute operations.

No timetable yet exists for reopening facilities and laboratories and returning to in-person instruction. The recovery task force will begin by modeling different possible scenarios and will coordinate the actions of different units within federal, state, and University System of Georgia guidelines. The recovery task force is led by Frank Neville, senior vice president for Strategic Initiatives.

“As we’re making plans to resume campus operations, our focus is squarely on the safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Neville. “Because we don’t yet know when the Institute will be able to resume previous levels of campus-based activity, the establishment of this task force is a proactive measure. As we develop our plans, we are drawing on the expertise of Georgia Tech faculty in public health and other disciplines to ensure that our decisions are informed by the latest research and insight.”

When Georgia Tech transitioned to distance learning and modified operations in March, every unit within the Institute executed a continuity plan unique to its needs, responsibilities, and personnel. These continuity plans coordinated specific responses to alterations in campus operations, such as distance learning, teleworking, incident response teams, and more. The recovery plans will guide units as they prepare for a phased resumption of services and operations. Since units and their operations may be differently affected by guidelines, the recovery task force will work with individual departments to assess needs and make recommendations. While many administrative offices will be able to plan resumption of operations under similar conditions, some units — athletics, research, or dining, for example — may have additional requirements to consider.

Students, faculty, and staff should continue to check Georgia Tech’s Monitoring Coronavirus site for updates.

Recovery Task Force membership:

  • Frank Neville, senior vice president, Strategic Initiatives
  • Joi Alexander, director, Health Initiatives
  • Robert Connolly, chief of police
  • Mark Demyanek, interim senior vice president, Administration Dr.
  • Jon Duke, principal research scientist and director, Center for Health Analytics and Informatics
  • Kelly Fox, executive vice president, Administration and Finance
  • Laura Gustavson, emergency management coordinator, Emergency Management
  • Kim Harrington, associate vice president, Human Resources
  • Lea Harris, graduate student, Aerospace Engineering
  • Kasey Helton, associate vice president, Campus Services
  • Jennifer Herazy, chief administrative officer, Academic Affairs and Research
  • Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director, Health Services
  • Laurence Jacobs, associate dean, College of Engineering
  • Christopher Jones, professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Pinar Keskinocak, professor and director, Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems
  • Renee Kopkowski, vice president, Institute Communications
  • Gabrielle Lonsberry, undergraduate president, Student Government Association
  • Keith McBride, chief of staff, Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • James McGarrah, interim vice president, Information Technology
  • Ling-Ling Nie, general counsel and vice president, Ethics and Compliance
  • Colin Potts, vice provost, Undergraduate Education
  • Mark Rountree, deputy director of athletics, Georgia Tech Athletics Association
  • William Smith, director, Emergency Management
  • John Stein, vice president, Student Life and dean of students
  • Michelle Thackray, consultant, Strategic Initiatives
  • Nazia Zakir, assistant vice president, Environmental Health and Safety
April 6, 2020 - Wearing Masks

New guidance released on April 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain — grocery stores, pharmacies, and other areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC is advising the use of cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials.

Surgical masks or N-95 respirators are not recommended as cloth face coverings. These are critical supplies that should continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

Because social distancing is still a very important part of slowing the spread of the virus, staff and faculty reporting to campus should continue to maintain six feet of distance from others. All are encouraged to wear homemade face masks, if they are more comfortable doing so, while on campus.

March 3, 2020 - Formation of Coronavirus Task Force

In a message to campus, President Ángel Cabrera announced the formation of a coronavirus task force that will lead the preparation for and coordination of an Institute response in the event campus operations are affected. Led by Frank Neville, chief of staff for the Office of the President, members include:

  • Paul Benkeser, professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Rob Connolly, chief of police
  • Mark Demyanek, interim senior vice president, Administration
  • Erika Gravett, deputy director, Human Resources
  • Laura Gustavson, emergency management coordinator, Emergency Management
  • Kasey Helton, vice president, Campus Services
  • Jennifer Herazy, chief administrative officer, Academic Affairs and Research
  • Dr. Ben Holton, senior director, Health Services
  • Pooja Juvekar, undergraduate president, Student Government Association
  • Pinar Keskinocak, professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Julia Kubanek, professor, Biological Sciences
  • Renee Kopkowski, vice president, Institute Communications
  • Keith McBride, chief of staff, Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Jim McGarrah, interim vice president, Information Technology
  • Ajay Patel, director of purchasing, Purchasing and Procurement
  • Jennifer Rhodes, project manager principal, Information Technology
  • Kyla Ross, assistant vice provost for Advocacy and Conflict Resolution
  • Mark Rountree, deputy director of athletics, Georgia Tech Athletics Association
  • Narayan Shirolkar, graduate president, Student Government Association
  • Will Smith, director, Emergency Management
  • John Stein, vice president, Student Life and dean of students
  • Nazia Zakir, assistant vice president, Environmental Health and Safety

The task force convened yesterday and has begun to coordinate planning for the safety and well-being of the campus community, as well as initiate continuity planning should normal campus operations are interrupted. Once in place, these plans will help Georgia Tech be prepared for a broader range of potential future concerns beyond the current public health threat.

Tech is currently conducting an inventory of personal protective equipment, disinfectant cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer currently available in  departments on campus. Additional orders will be placed to ensure we have sufficient stockpiles of these items on hand, and custodial staff will alter  cleaning practices to focus more on surface cleanliness and disinfection.

There is continued coordination with federal and state authorities as well as the University System of Georgia (USG). They have been closely monitoring the ongoing outbreak in Asia and Europe and have offered direction to our institutions in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. State Department, and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Direct any questions to publichealth@gatech.edu.

Campus Operations

May 5, 2020 - Visiting Campus
Spring weather has been in full bloom over the last week. Teamed with the expiration of Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Order for most Georgians on April 30, many of you have been drawn to public outdoor spaces on campus.

Visiting Campus
It is important that you continue to follow the social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you are visiting campus for any reason, even recreational reasons. The guidelines require that you stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people, do not gather in groups larger than 10 people, and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. It is also recommended that you wear a cloth mask during these interactions.

In order to succeed, we must work together as a community with a singular, shared purpose. We have an obligation to ourselves and to each other to follow the recommended guidelines. We are in this together. If you have questions, please speak with your supervisor or submit them to publichealth@gatech.edu. Please be prepared to be flexible and to adapt should the changing nature of the pandemic require us to modify plans along the way.

April 28, 2020 - Shelter in Place Order Completion
Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Order is set to expire for most Georgians on Thursday, April 30. For medically fragile and elderly Georgians, shelter in place will continue at least through May 13 – the date Georgia’s Public Health Emergency expires. 

Many of you are wondering if that means you should return to in-person work on May 1. For now, according to the University System of Georgia (USG) guidance, please continue to work in the same manner you’ve been working during the shelter in place period. The governor’s announcement included the caution for everyone to continue to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) guidance by sheltering in place as often as you can, so:

  • If you’ve been working remotely, please continue working from home.
  • If you are part of the campus workforce that has been reporting to campus for work to serve students, support remote instruction, or researchers approved to conduct on-campus research, please continue to work with your supervisor to maintain your normal schedule.
  • If you are unable to work remotely and have been following Non-Closure Emergency Leave procedures, please continue to do that as well. 

Georgia Tech will continue to implement the measures outlined in the governor’s Executive Order to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for those employees who report to work in person. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Screening anyone who exhibits signs of illness.
  • Requiring anyone showing signs of illness to stay home.
  • Enhancing cleaning and disinfection procedures and increasing the use of disinfectants on hard surfaces.
  • Requiring hand washing and posting information encouraging good hand hygiene.
  • Prohibiting co-workers from using each other’s phones or equipment.
  • Prohibiting gatherings of more than six staff members even during breaks.
  • Holding meetings virtually.
  • Requiring staff to follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Implementing staggered shifts.
  • Prohibiting hand shaking.

All campus events through June should also continue to be held virtually, rescheduled, or canceled.

In anticipation of a resumption of in-person instruction in August, 2020, USG institutions will begin to bring faculty and staff who have been in telework or flexible arrangements back to their campuses in the near future. An exact timeframe will be determined soon.

In order to ensure a smooth transition and to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have been asked to develop a plan for a staggered return of faculty and staff. The plan must promote a healthy and safe environment; comply with executive orders and directives from the governor’s office; and reflect guidance from GDPH and the CDC recommendations. The plan is to be submitted for USG review by May 15. We will share details of the plan for the phased return to work once it has been approved. 

The Institute’s COVID-19 Task Force is committed to providing you with timely updates. If you have questions, please speak with you supervisor or submit them to publichealth@gatech.edu. Please be prepared to be flexible and to adapt should the changing nature of the pandemic require us to modify plans along the way.

April 28, 2020 - On-Campus Events

All campus events through June should also continue to be held virtually, rescheduled, or canceled.

April 10, 2020 - Programming and Operations Updates
Dear Georgia Tech Community:
 
As announced last week, all institutions within the University System of Georgia, including Georgia Tech, will continue online courses during May and the summer semesters, with only limited exceptions. Limited campus operations also continue to be in place until further notice, with only minimal staff physically on-site to ensure continuity of certain services.
 
As such, programming, events, and services traditionally held on Georgia Tech’s campus during the summer have been moved online, postponed, or canceled. More details will follow, but several affected programs include:
 
Postal Services
Due to the variability of departmental operating hours and much of campus working remotely, campus mail delivery has been suspended until further notice.

During this time, faculty and staff who have critical time-sensitive material can pick up mail and packages Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. from the Mail Processing Center (MPC), located at 711 Marietta Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30332.

Please call ahead at 404-385-4174 before picking up your parcels. Mail and packages will be delivered to recipients outside the entrance to the MPC to limit contact.

More information about operations is available on Tech's Post Office website.


FASET Orientation
All FASET orientation programs for new first-year and transfer students will be offered online this summer. Updates to the schedule of dates and a detailed day-of-schedule program will be forthcoming in the next few days. Additionally, there will be optional programs offered online by departments during the summer, and in-person sessions offered during the Week of Welcome.


iGniTe First-Year Summer Launch Program
The iGniTe Summer Launch program for incoming first-year students who will begin Georgia Tech during the summer session will be offered online. Students will take two online courses, plus an online version of GT1000 First-Year Seminar. Online community-building and co-curricular activities are under development to enhance the program.  


Wreck Camp iGniTe and Wreck Camp ATL
Wreck Camp iGniTe (Wreck Camp for iGniTe participants), and Wreck Camp ATL are canceled. As of now, Wreck Camp Odyssey, the four-day extended orientation program, is still scheduled for August 5-8. Students who have already registered for either Wreck Camp iGniTe or Wreck Camp ATL will be asked if they would like to move their registration to Wreck Camp Odyssey.


Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA) Events
External GTAA summer events, including athletic camps normally held on campus, have been indefinitely postponed. If circumstances permit, a revised summer camp schedule will be issued at a later date. GTAA summer academic activities offered to our cohort of incoming student-athletes will be moved online.


Conference Services
Summer conferences hosted by the Department of Housing and Residence Life have been canceled for Summer 2020.  


Tech Wreck Day Camp
A decision about Tech Wreck Day Camp, hosted by the Campus Recreation Center, will be made at a later date.


CEISMC and College-Hosted K-12 Summer Camps
These camps are being evaluated separately, and further guidance about these programs will be shared as it becomes available.

We will continue to keep you updated on affected programs and activities.

March 26, 2020 - Services and Resources Guide for Students

There has been a lot of change in the past few weeks. That much change in such a short time has left most of you with questions. We bet a lot of you are wondering how academic and administrative services and resources will continue in the virtual space.

The FAQs on health.gatech.edu/coronavirus is one source of information, but we thought it might help to simplify it a little. So, we created this resource guide for students to help answer questions. We hope you will find it to be a useful tool as we navigate this unique situation together.

Where do I go for help infographic    Academic Support Services

Academic Operations

October 28, 2020 — Spring Instruction Message for Students

Dear Georgia Tech Students:

Coming together as a community now is more important than ever. The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. I am so thankful for the resiliency and spirit of our community this semester. Faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff have continued to provide their critical support to our academic mission. The semester has been tough, but we know the campus community will continue to work together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our own faculty and staff experts have been involved in all areas of our planning. Our campus surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a consistent commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, have continued to keep transmission low throughout our community. The U.S. has seen a recent rise in cases, and as reported last week, we have also seen a small uptick in positive cases on campus. Persistence and a return to basics — Test. Mask. Distance. — are necessary to get us through the fall as safely as possible and will be key to all members of the Georgia Tech community going home for the holidays, healthy.

Spring Plan – Safely Increasing On-Campus Presence
Our efforts to keep our community safe this semester have inevitably reduced opportunities for social and academic face-to-face interaction. We have received feedback from students feeling at times isolated and missing a more engaged academic experience. We have learned much this semester about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely improve our campus experience.

For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction, to include regular, prescheduled in-person meetings in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by the following two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount and we will continue to keep instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience as critical to our mission.

This plan was developed in close coordination and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and members of academic leadership, including college deans and school chairs, among others, as well as feedback received from a student survey and focus groups conducted by the Academic Restart Task force. While we will increase personal engagement for our students, we will also maintain the necessary flexibility to balance health and safety with the pedagogical needs of each course.

Spring Plan – Course Modes and Key Dates
As in the current semester, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations. For the spring, however, we will take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering.

We know this information is critical to help you select courses that best support your academic progression and allow you to make timely decisions around housing, travel, and other personal matters. For this reason, hybrid course instructors will clearly outline in-person expectations and be explicit about details regarding assessments, attendance expectations, and other pertinent course details. Note: attendance policies are set by individual instructors.

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar and refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers.

Student Accommodations
Students may request an accommodation through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) due to 1) presence of a condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or 2) identification as an individual at higher risk for Covid-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit the Campus Guidelines for more information about higher risk definitions and requesting an accommodation. Students already registered with ODS and approved for accommodations this fall term should contact ODS directly with any questions regarding their spring accommodations request.

International Students
Georgia Tech values and supports our international student community, and we know that current and newly admitted international students continue to face various issues related to travel restrictions or visa matters. The Office of International Education maintains several online resources, including virtual 1:1 advising sessions and FAQs, to assist in planning and decision-making and should be consulted with any detailed questions about a student’s specific immigration or visa situation. Visit the Office of International Education for more information.

Looking Ahead to Spring
Thanks to all of you who have shared your ideas and concerns, but also for your creativity and resourcefulness that have brought Georgia Tech’s unique character and problem-solving to our ongoing planning. We will continue to listen. As we approach the end of the semester, your instructors and advisors are ready to assist and support you in any way they can. Please know that if you need additional support, there are other student support services available through the CARE Center, Counseling Center, and Stamps Health Services. Above all, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and others during these challenging times.

Take care,
Steven McLaughlin, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

October 28, 2020 — Spring Instruction Message for Faculty and Staff

Dear Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff:

Coming together as a community now is more important than ever. The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. I am so thankful for the resiliency and spirit of our community this semester. Faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff have continued to provide their critical support to our academic mission. The semester has been tough, but we know the campus community will continue to work together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our own faculty and staff experts have been involved in all areas of our planning. Our campus surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a consistent commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, have continued to keep transmission low throughout our community. The U.S. has seen a recent rise in cases, and as reported last week, we have also seen a small uptick in positive cases on campus. Persistence and a return to basics — Test. Mask. Distance. — are necessary to get us through the fall as safely as possible and will be key to all members of the Georgia Tech community going home for the holidays, healthy.

Spring Plan – Safely Increasing On-Campus Presence
Our efforts to keep our community safe this semester have inevitably reduced opportunities for social and academic face-to-face interaction. We have received feedback from students feeling at times isolated and missing a more engaged academic experience. We have learned much this semester about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely improve our campus experience.

For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction, to include regular, prescheduled in-person meetings in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by the following two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount and we will continue to keep instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience as critical to our mission.

This plan was developed in close coordination and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and members of academic leadership, including college deans and school chairs, among others. While we will increase personal engagement for our students, we will also maintain the necessary flexibility to balance health and safety with the pedagogical needs of each course.

What We’ve Learned
As we prepare for the spring semester, we want to build on what is working well and use what we have learned this fall to make improvements where needed. This fall, we gathered more than 6,000 student survey responses and talked to more than 200 students, faculty, and teaching assistants (TA) through listening sessions. Among the highlights, and a true testament to Georgia Tech’s outstanding faculty and academic staff, the data revealed that on average nine out of 10 student survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their instructors have been empathetic and flexible with them during the pandemic. Some of the feedback was not as positive. Feedback showed us very clearly that students want more in-person experiences. We also heard various reports of difficulties around the hybrid model, including inconsistent personal engagement that left students feeling isolated, technology challenges associated with both synchronous and asynchronous delivery, and an increase in the amount of time needed to prepare and deliver courses. Read the student survey and focus groups summary report.

The community has provided us with many valuable insights. For example, the data suggest that short, pre-recorded asynchronous lecture content combined with opportunities for engagement in synchronous sessions works well. We know how widely academic disciplines can differ in their teaching approaches so we will coordinate teaching recommendations that are collated at the unit/program level. So, while our principles and goals are discipline-neutral, the ways that instructors will teach are particular to their disciplinary expertise to meet the unique needs of each course, the discipline, and student populations.

With this community feedback in mind, we will approach the spring course modes with the following goals:

  • Continue to be guided by the scientific evidence concerning the transmission and mitigation of the coronavirus, including recommended personal hygiene and physical distancing behaviors, consistent participation in surveillance testing, and appropriate preparedness and responsiveness to any positive cases within the Georgia Tech community.
  • Maximize the number of courses offered in residential and hybrid course modes.
  • For hybrid courses, increase the number of meaningful and regular interactions to provide students greater opportunity for personal engagement with faculty, academic staff, and peers.
  • Maximize synchronous interaction whenever possible, even when combined with asynchronous lecture content, and engage students in high-quality remote instruction when in-person or hybrid instruction is not possible.
  • Be clear and consistent in all our communication about course and attendance expectations.

Academic Calendar, Course Modes, and Instructional Support

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar; refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers; and additional resources to support faculty and academic staff. These plans are consistent with the expectations of the Board of Regents as specified in the resolution approved on Oct. 13, 2020. 

Course Modes

Similar to the fall, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations.

However, as we move forward into the spring, we do need to take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering as determined by the instructor in consideration of the unique pedagogical needs of the classes. This information is critical to help students select courses that best support their academic progression and allow them to make timely decisions around housing, travel, and other personal matters.

For this reason, any hybrid course instructor should clearly outline in-person expectations and be explicit about the attendance policies in those courses. To accomplish this, the faculty and instructors are to provide as much detail as possible in the Course Descriptions Tool on or before Sunday, Nov. 1.

These expectations should also be clearly communicated in the course syllabus. Please note that the Institute's attendance policies have not changed, and following standard practice, instructors will set attendance policies for their respective courses.

Instructional Resources and Development Opportunities

Several resources are available to faculty, TAs, and instructional staff to support planning and instruction during the current semester and as they plan for spring. The Georgia Tech Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy (GTRHTA) can help instructors prepare for teaching in remote or hybrid environments. The GTRHTA provides asynchronous, self-paced resources in a Canvas course. Synchronous, expert-led sessions are also available to complement these resources, providing opportunities for deeper interaction with instructors on a variety of approaches and technologies.

Faculty, TAs, and instructional staff are encouraged to access these resources to learn more about available information on technologies for synchronous and asynchronous delivery; increasing student-content, student-student, and student-instructor interaction; optional digital proctoring; electronic assessment tools; student feedback tools; and insights on teaching effectiveness. One-on-one consultations and technology assistance are also available through our experts in the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Tech Professional Education, and the Office of Information Technology.

More broadly, the Center for Teaching and Learning offers many resources on a wide range of issues around teaching and learning. Visit ctl.gatech.edu to find helpful information on special topics as well as professional development opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and TAs.

Looking Ahead to the Spring
We have consistently turned to our community of faculty, staff, students, and parents for guidance. Thanks to all of you who have shared your ideas and concerns, but also for your creativity and resourcefulness that have brought Georgia Tech’s unique character to our ongoing planning. Above all, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and others during these challenging times.

Take care,
Steven McLaughlin, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

September 28, 2020 - Changes to the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar

Dear Georgia Tech Community –

This fall semester has been unlike any other at Georgia Tech, and we thank all members of the campus community who are contributing their time, efforts, expertise, flexibility, and patience to continuing our outstanding academics and research. Even while getting into the swing of the fall semester, we have kept a close watch on what we might learn for the spring. Over the past six weeks, we have listened and gathered as much feedback about the instructional experience as possible from both students and faculty. We hope to leverage this feedback to replicate what is working well and to make improvements where needed. In the coming days, we will have more information about modes of instruction planned for spring.

Today, we can share news about the Spring 2021 academic calendar, which has been modified, based on our study and with input from our own faculty experts, to maximize the health and safety of our community.

To minimize the health risk to our community due to travel-related transmission, there will not be a weeklong Spring Break, and the first day of classes has been delayed to Thursday, Jan. 14. To allow students the opportunity for a mid-semester break from instruction, no classes will be held (also no assignments or assessments due) on Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 24. The dates of final exams have not been changed.

The key dates of the Spring 2021 academic calendar are:

  • Thursday, Jan. 14: Classes begin
  • Monday, Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (national holiday)
  • Tuesday, March 16: No classes, assignments, or assessments
  • Wednesday, March 24: No classes, assignments, or assessments
  • Monday, April 26 – Tuesday, April 27: Final instructional class days
  • Thursday, April 29 – Thursday, May 6: Final exams

Students will have the same number of instructional days as a typical academic semester and as required by accreditation norms. The Faculty Executive Board, acting on behalf of the Academic Faculty Senate, has approved these changes, as required by the Faculty Handbook.

Other relevant dates for spring include:

  • Monday, Nov. 2: Schedule of classes for Spring 2021 available.
  • Monday, Nov. 9: Phase 1 registration time tickets begin.
  • Monday, Jan. 11 – Tuesday, Jan. 12: FASET orientation for incoming first-year, transfer, and exchange students.

Dates, schedules, and details for housing and related services, graduate student hiring, and Graduate Institute Orientation, are also being revised to reflect these changes and will be announced as soon as they are available.

We understand that the elimination of Spring Break week will be disappointing and disruptive for some. This decision is based on what has been learned from last spring and intended to minimize health risks to the community. We appreciate your understanding as we navigate these unprecedented challenges. 

We will continue to keep you updated as soon as details are finalized. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Rafael L. Bras, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

July 20, 2020 - Course Mode Designations Now Available

Dear Members of the Georgia Tech Community: 

We know you have been anxiously awaiting the course mode designations since we announced that we’d be offering a mainly residential learning format when we return to campus for fall semester. We appreciate your patience. We also know there have been and will continue to be many questions about what to expect for our return to campus next month.   

There is information below that we hope will help clarify many of your questions and help you better prepare for the start of the fall semester.  

Course Modes and Decision Dates 
Today, students can access course mode designations in OSCAR. As part of the fall plan, each course and section will be designated as residential (in-person with physical distancing), hybrid with limited in-person attendance, or remote. The majority of courses will have some in-person attendance. 

The health and safety of our students and faculty are our top priority in setting all class modes. An important part of that is allowing for safe physical distancing in the classrooms where these courses are held. 

We are still working through some final details of each available classroom to ensure physical distancing can be maintained consistently, so class locations are still being finalized. They will be shared in early August ahead of the first day of classes.  

Residential courses:  Courses that are residential will be held on a traditional in-person schedule and format. Until class locations are determined, they will be coded in OSCAR as hybrid, but you can find a current list of classes expected to be fully residential here. As we continue to determine classroom assignments, some sections planned as residential may have to be changed to hybrid mode due to space constraints.   

Hybrid courses (HYBR): In contrast to remote courses, all hybrid sections will maintain an in-person experience and can expect to meet in classrooms on campus regularly. The amount of in-person interaction will be determined by instructor teaching preferences and classroom availability for physical distancing.   

Remote courses: Those sections assigned to remote will be coded in OSCAR as asynchronous (ASYN) or synchronous (SYNC) based on the planned delivery. Asynchronous courses will deliver material unbounded by specific meeting times, while synchronous courses will meet virtually on a set schedule. You can find a list of all courses coded for remote delivery here

Students who have questions about their fall schedule or specific courses should contact their academic advisor or individual course instructor.  

As reported last week, decision dates around Phase 2 registration, deferral, and student leave of absence requests have been adjusted to allow each student and their families more time and the flexibility to make decisions that best support them and their academic progress. 

Important student decision dates include: 

  • August 1-21: Phase 2 registration open period for undergraduate and graduate students.
    • Current students, as well as undergraduate students attending FASET Orientation between now and July 31 who wish to make changes to their schedules, can do so during Phase 2. 
    • Note: New first-year or transfer students who are attending the final August 10 FASET Orientation session should plan on registering as part of that session.
  • August 3: Enrollment deferral deadline for first-year students who have paid an admission deposit. 
  • August 3: Student leave of absence request deadline for fall semester for undergraduate and graduate students. 
  • August 5: Registration opens for new students in the Online Master of Science in Analytics, Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity, and Professional Masters programs.

Accommodations 
Individuals who fall into higher risk groups, as defined by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may request an accommodation. Institute personnel are available to assist any students, faculty, or staff who are seeking academic or employment accommodations.  

Students 
Students seeking an academic accommodation should start by contacting the Office of Disability Services. Students who work as undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants seeking an employment accommodation should also complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form. 

Faculty and Staff 
The course mode designations account for accommodations received up to the July 13 due date. Nevertheless, any faculty member who has a change of situation can request a teaching accommodation at any time. Other accommodation requests from employees may be submitted at any time between now and the start of the fall semester. 

The Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR) Return to Campus Manager’s Toolkit outlines higher risk categories, as well as the process for requesting Covid-19-related alternate work arrangements. If you need assistance or have questions regarding accommodation requests, email Ann F. Harris, GTHR-Employee Relations Compliance Advisor. 

Those who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors known to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

Campus Safety Overview 
Coming back to campus safely will require individual and collective efforts. Beyond required face coverings, physical distancing, and personal hygiene that we will practice as individuals, you will also see necessary changes around campus. Hundreds of individuals across departments and units at Georgia Tech are hard at work planning and implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures; new configurations and seating in classrooms, labs, and office spaces; new expectations for campus, housing, and dining services; ongoing risk assessments and analyses; and detailed testing, contact tracing, and quarantine​ protocols.  

We will keep the Georgia Tech community updated on these details in the next few days, and expect to publish additional resources, including faculty and student guidebooks on our Tech Moving Forward site. We will also continue to update the Frequently Asked Questions as more details are available. 

Moving Forward 
Thank you to each member of the Georgia Tech community for your patience, consideration, and collaboration as we make plans to move forward together. I cannot thank enough the many faculty, student, and staff collaborators who continue to work tirelessly to make the transition back to campus a success. Evaluating the formats for almost 5,000 course sections during a time of great uncertainty has been an incredibly complex undertaking. You have all proven that you can do anything.  

The times still remain uncertain and the global pandemic is not behind us. There is still a significant amount of work in front of us. We commit to keeping you up to date each time we have new information. Even amid the changes, I know that together, we can all help ensure that our return will be as safe and productive as possible.  

We will be in touch again very soon.  

Take care, 

Rafael L. Bras, Provost 
Georgia Institute of Technology 

July 14, 2020 - Important Decision Dates, Student Accommodations, and International Student Resources

Dear Members of the Georgia Tech Community:

As the start of the fall semester nears, we know that many of our students and their families, as well as members of our faculty and staff, have felt growing frustration and apprehension as important deadlines loom and decisions must be made. We have heard from you through various channels, including the recent student survey, and we want to be responsive and supportive as you make these critical decisions.

Important Decision Dates
Decision dates around Phase 2 registration, deferral, and student leave of absence requests have been adjusted in the hopes of providing more flexibility and, ultimately, supporting academic progress and success for every student. Leaders from the colleges and schools are working with members of the faculty to determine the instructional format for all courses. These will be finalized by July 20.

Phase 2 Registration
To help you make decisions about your fall class schedule, Phase 2 registration will open earlier than previously announced, and will run from August 1-21 at registrar.gatech.edu/registration. Current students who wish to make changes to their schedules can do so during Phase 2 registration. Any student attending FASET Orientation between now and July 31 will also be able to make changes once Phase 2 begins. Note: New first-year or transfer students who are attending the final August 10 FASET Orientation session should plan on registering as part of that session.

Undergraduate Enrollment Deferral
First-year students who have paid an admission deposit are eligible to request an enrollment deferral. The deadline to request a deferral has been extended to August 3. For more details, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Any housing cancellation requests that were made after June 30 did forfeit the housing deposit, but that deposit is transferrable to a future term if a deferral request is granted.

Student Leave of Absence Requests
For fall semester, the deadline for students to submit a leave of absence request has been extended to August 3. Find eligibility requirements and more about requesting a leave of absence via the Registrar’s Office.

All incoming students, including summer start first-year and transfer students, are invited to attend the Incoming Student Town Hall, hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admission, scheduled for Thursday, July 16, at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Student Accommodations
Students seeking an academic or employment accommodation (including graduate teaching and research assistants) should start by contacting the Office of Disability Services (ODS).

Registering with ODS is a 3-step process that includes completing an application, uploading documentation related to the accommodation request, and scheduling an appointment for an “intake meeting” (either in person or via phone or video conference) with a disability coordinator.

Students who work as undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants seeking an employment accommodation should also complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.

International Students — Resources and Important Dates
Last week’s guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) caused confusion and anxiety for our international students. We hoped to provide clarity on that guidance, but we recognize that we fell short in providing answers and reassurance. Please know that the well-being of our international students is paramount and we have engaged with the national higher-ed associations in order to advocate for our students.

We are very happy to report that a resolution of the issues has been reached and the government has rescinded the proposed guidelines. We will continue to engage with our peer institutions and these national organizations and follow developments closely.

As the Covid-19 situation continues to be fluid and the ground continues to shift, we are consulting with the agency to get greater clarity and to minimize the impact on our international students, where possible. For additional direction, a task force made up of faculty, student leaders, and administrators is now working diligently to develop resources and possible solutions that we will share with the community as quickly as possible.

Resources for International Students
We understand that there are many different challenges facing international students right now. We have several online resources available to assist in planning and decision-making:

  • International Student Housing Intention Form. If you are able to travel for the Fall 2020 semester, Georgia Tech Housing can accommodate those with a fall housing assignment as early as July 24. All international students must declare their intention by August 3 via the resources section of the My Housing portal. Additional guidance about move-in, late arrival, and housing cancellations for international students is available here
  • Fall planning, FAQ’s, and general guidance are available at the Office of International Education.
  • Immigration Information Sessions: 
  • Group Advising Sessions are held three times each week. Students should use their Georgia Tech email to sign up for a session here.

Inquiries With the Office of International Education
The Office of International Education (OIE) may need to be consulted with any detailed questions about a student’s specific immigration or visa situation. Note: OIE is currently experiencing a very high volume of email inquiries and phone calls. Response and wait times are longer than usual for individual inquiries, but additional guidance is coming together quickly to allow students’ questions to be answered as soon as possible. Students are encouraged to register for a group advising session. 

Moving Forward
The fall semester is now just weeks away and we eagerly await the day we are all able to be on campus again — together. Thank you for your commitment to your own safety and that of your fellow Yellow Jackets, and for your patience, resilience, and flexibility as we adjust to these changes and adopt new behaviors and practices.

We will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available. Please consult our Tech Moving Forward website and our Frequently Asked Questions, and know that we remain committed to the safety and success of our students under the parameters established by state and federal guidelines.

Thank you,

Rafael L. Bras, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

July 10, 2020 - Supporting Our International Student Community

To the Georgia Tech Community:

Georgia Tech is a global institution and embraces a culture of global engagement that allows us to tap the contributions of the brightest scholars from the United States and abroad. Our international student population is of importance to Georgia Tech’s academic mission and we value our students’ contributions to our global campus community. 

On July 6, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced proposed modifications of Covid-19 temporary procedural adaptations and guidance for international students and institutions for fall 2020 in a SEVP Broadcast Message: COVID-19 and Fall 2020. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities as a Temporary Final Rule in the Federal Register on August 4. In addition, SEVP published an FAQ on July 7. Some key points of that guidance are:

  • All Georgia Tech F-1 student visa holders currently inside the U.S. will be allowed to remain inside the U.S. and attend a mix of in-person and hybrid course delivery during the fall semester. Georgia Tech is planning to operate as close to a traditional way as health and safety allows us. The plan foresees the majority of courses will be offered in a hybrid (requiring physical presence) or in-person mode.
  • New Georgia Tech F-1 student U.S. visa holders will be allowed to join the institution for a combination of in-person instruction and hybrid delivery in fall 2020.
  • It is unclear if Georgia Tech international students outside the U.S. engaging in coursework from abroad will be able to maintain an Active SEVIS status. We will continue to work with SEVP to clarify this.
  • F-1 student visa holders in the U.S. cannot take a full course of study completely remote/online, according to the published guidelines. Unfortunately, that would imply that, if for any reason the mode of instruction were to change to completely remote or online, the students would have to leave the country, or take other measures to remain in lawful status.

To reiterate, Georgia Tech plans to open the fall semester with as close to traditional in-person modality of instruction as possible. We also believe that the personal nature of research and thesis work will not be affected or changed this coming fall semester.

We understand the concern and apprehension the SEVP announcement is causing for the Georgia Tech community. Due to the shifting landscape around Covid-19, updates from the U.S. government, and developing institutional plans, we ask for your patience and sustained attention to current and upcoming guidance. We call upon our community to consider ways in which faculty, staff, students, or offices can provide support and flexibility to international students during this time. As an institution, we are strengthened when we come together as a community to support one another in times of uncertainty. 

Sincerely,

Rafael L. Bras, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

P.S.  For further discussion, we invite you to join us for an online information session during which will explain what this proposed guidance means to our international students. 
 
Immigration Information Sessions: Analysis of recent guidance from SEVP

July 2, 2020 — Tech Moving Forward Student Update

The Institute’s Covid-19 Task Force has received questions on a number of topics this week, including when academic course formats will be shared, and the academic and residential options for international students. We’ve provided some additional information on these topics below:

PROCESS AND TIMING FOR ACADEMIC COURSE OFFERINGS

Fall 2020 courses will be held in one of five delivery modes, from a traditional format (in cases where physical distancing is a viable option) to a variety of hybrid options that leverage online technology.

Georgia Tech will prioritize certain classes for in-person delivery: lab classes, group project classes, senior design classes, small discussion classes, and classes that require interaction with physical projects and equipment in most or all sessions.

Many of you are awaiting a course list that is clearly marked with the delivery mode options for each course. We are committed to publishing that list by July 20.

Some undergraduate registration deadlines have been shifted based on the publication date. They include:

  • Deferral application deadline: July 24
  • Phase 2 registration: August 8-21

Application deferral deadlines for graduate programs vary. Admitted graduate students should contact their departments.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION

International students, both continuing and admitted, are making decisions about academic programs and courses this fall. However, we know that there may be various issues, particularly travel restrictions or visa matters, subject to guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  

International Students with a Visa, Currently Outside the United States

If you have secured, or expect to have secured your visa, and plan to enroll for the fall semester on the Atlanta campus, you should plan for in-person, residential instruction.

You will be asked to arrive in Atlanta between July 24-26 and be required to follow quarantine guidelines.

Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any individual who is traveling to the U.S. from an international destination should quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. This guidance should be followed by students planning to live in either on-campus housing or private housing located off-campus.

On-campus residents will be provided a place to quarantine and options for delivery of Dining Services during that time. Off-campus residents should plan to quarantine in their off-campus housing. If it is not available before August, please contact Georgia Tech Housing and Residence Life to learn about limited availability for quarantine of asymptomatic individuals at nearby hotels.

International Students Without a Visa or Unable to Travel, Currently Outside the United States

If you are unable to obtain an entry visa or travel to the U.S. for the start of the fall semester, you have some options.

  • Remote Courses
    Under certain conditions, you may be able to enroll and take courses remotely while you are outside of the U.S. The applicability of the remote course option will depend on the availability of courses from a particular academic program and restrictions on Office of Foreign Assets Control-sanctioned countries. More details on this option will be available in the near future. 
  • International Campuses
    Under certain conditions, you may also take courses at one of our two international campuses — Georgia Tech-Lorraine or Georgia Tech-Shenzhen.
    • Georgia Tech-Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China): For the Fall 2020 semester, first-year undergraduate students who do not need a visa to enter China can study at the GT-Shenzhen campus. New or current MS ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) students who do not need a visa to enter China can also study at GT-Shenzhen. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate other types of students at GT-Shenzhen during Fall 2020. Inquiries can be sent to gtshenzhen@ece.gatech.edu. 
    • Georgia Tech-Lorraine (Metz, France): For the Fall 2020 semester, both the undergraduate and graduate programs will run with a condensed schedule. International undergraduate and graduate students who are unable to get a visa for the U.S. may be able to obtain a visa to study in France. Students are advised to review Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s course schedules for Fall 2020 (see Undergraduate Schedule or Graduate Schedule). If transferring to the Lorraine campus, students may only enroll in those courses listed on the Lorraine course schedule. All interested students should email GTL-France@gtl.gatech.edu as soon as possible for more information.
  • Late Start to Fall Semester
    The Department of Homeland Security Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s guidance allows F-1 students to arrive in Atlanta up to 30 days after the start of the semester. Students who cannot arrive at the start of the fall semester and are enrolled full time should contact their academic department and Office of International Education (oie.gatech.edu/isss_advising) for further guidance to see if a late arrival would be a viable option for them. Students arriving during this 30-day timeframe would be required to follow quarantine guidelines.
  • Deferral
    Graduate students may request a deferral of an admission decision for up to one year. Graduate students who were offered financial support must contact their academic program office to determine if their financial support package can be deferred, as well. To request approval for either of these options, graduate students should contact their academic program coordinator who will make the final determination.

Undergraduate students can make deferral requests by contacting the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Requests must be received no later than July 24.

We understand that the current environment has created a great deal of uncertainty, and we hope that you will be able to join us in Atlanta this fall. Please reach out to your academic program to discuss your individual situation and to discuss next steps. Please consult the Office of International Education’s list of frequently asked questions for international students, which will continue to be updated as new information is received: oie.gatech.edu/isss/Comprehensive-FAQ.

You can also schedule an advising appointment with an international student advisor: oie.gatech.edu/isss_advising

ONGOING UPDATES

We know there is a lot of uncertainty as we finalize details about the return to campus this fall. We are committed to communicating with you each time new information becomes available.

For more information about any aspect of our plan to resume in-person instruction in August, please consult our Tech Moving Forward website and our Frequently Asked Questions.

Thank you, 
Covid-19 Response Task Force 
Georgia Institute of Technology 

 

July 2, 2020 — Tech Moving Forward Faculty Update 

The Institute’s Covid-19 Task Force has received questions on a number of topics this week, including how academic course formats are being managed, the process and deadline for faculty accommodations, and safety in the classroom during in-person classes this fall. We’ve provided some additional information on these topics below. 

In preparing for fall term, please be reminded that the University System of Georgia (USG) has instructed all institutions to develop plans for multiple scenarios, including:  

  • Fall classes begin with social distancing expectations.  
  • Fall classes begin online.  
  • Classes and operations go to an online format for some time during the semester.  

Currently, all USG institutions are expected to operate under the first scenario. However, we ask that you prepare to move from one method of instruction and operation to another as public health guidelines may change.  

PROCESS AND TIMING FOR ACADEMIC COURSE OFFERINGS 

Fall 2020 courses will be held in one of five delivery modes, from a traditional format in cases where social distancing is a viable option to a variety of hybrid options that leverage online technology and help reduce the number of students meeting in a classroom at any given time.   

School Chairs and College Deans have been asked to select the most appropriate mode of instruction for each course in order to maximize student learning while minimizing health risks. In consultation with the colleges and schools, the Registrar’s Office, and Capital Planning and Space Management, the Institute will confirm classroom assignments and delivery modes based on space available. Georgia Tech will prioritize certain classes for in-person delivery: lab classes, group project classes, senior design classes, classes where there is a pedagogical advantage, project-based classes, classes requiring physical equipment, and discussion classes.  

While most courses will proceed in their previously assigned space, some classroom reassignments may be necessary, especially in cases that can help optimize the residential experience for new incoming students and graduating students. In every case, classroom reassignments will be done in consultation with instructors and school chairs. 

Courses taught by a faculty member with an approved accommodation may be assigned to remote delivery. Also, courses that are typically offered online will continue to be offered online.   

Class delivery modes will be published to OSCAR by Monday, July 20, and Phase 2 registration is August 8-21. The& undergraduate deferral application deadline has been shifted based on the publication date and it is now July 24. Application deferral deadlines for graduate programs vary and admitted graduate students have been instructed to contact their departments.  

As a reminder, the semester schedule has changed to discourage travel, including canceling the two-day fall break currently scheduled for Oct. 5-6 and ending fall instruction by Thanksgiving break. Reading days and final assessments will be administered in a hybrid format, and the calendar will be modified, as follows: 

  • Aug. 17: Start of classes   
  • Sept. 7: Labor Day holiday   
  • Nov. 23-24: Final instructional days (no new material or scheduling of any other assessments) 
  • Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving break   
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 8: Reading days and final assessments   
  • Dec. 9-10 or 11-12: Commencement   

The final instructional days should be taught in a way that is consistent with the mode of delivery for the entire course. For a residential spread course, this means the final instructional day will be taught in person. For a remote or hybrid touchpoint course, it will be delivered remotely. For other modes, instructors should use their professional judgment. 

We will continue to update you as more details are determined in consultation with the school chairs and academic unit leadership. In the meantime, please direct questions to your school chair or the Office of the Provost (provostsoffice@gatech.edu). 

COVID-19 ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS

Higher risk faculty and staff members, who are unable to return to campus due to Covid-19 and wish to request an alternate work arrangement, must complete a request form and provide medical documentation detailing their needs and requested support via Georgia Tech Human Resources.

Those who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors known to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

The Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR) Return to Campus Manager’s Toolkit outlines those higher risk categories, as well as the process for requesting Covid-19-related alternate work arrangements. 

The process minimizes the number of individuals involved in review. Only GTHR will have access to forms submitted and any medical documentation requested. Accommodation request and supporting documentation are not maintained in the employee’s personnel file and are kept separately in a confidential file. All individuals reviewing requests understand the highly sensitive nature of the information being disclosed and have been instructed not to share this sensitive information.  

Faculty and graduate teaching assistants who teach should submit accommodation requests by Monday, July 6, 2020. Other accommodation requests from employees may be submitted at any time between now and the start of fall semester.

Please work with your supervisor and/or HR Business Partner. 

Faculty determined to be ineligible for an alternative work arrangement will receive written notice of this determination from GTHR together with information on how to appeal the determination. Faculty have five (5) business days from the date of written notice to send an appeal to the Assistant Vice Provost for Advocacy and Conflict Resolution (AVP-ACR) (kyla.ross@gatech.edu). Appeals will be reviewed by a three-person committee led by the AVP-ACR, working in coordination with the Faculty Status and Grievance committee. The appeals committee will have five (5) business days to issue a decision.    

If you need assistance or have questions regarding accommodation requests, please email Ann F. Harris, GTHR-Employee Relations Compliance Advisor at ann.harris@ohr.gatech.edu

HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES FOR CLASSROOMS 

We’ve heard concerns from many of you regarding health and safety, and the use of face coverings, in a classroom environment.  As we’ve shared, students, faculty, and staff are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings when on campus. In some spaces where social distancing is difficult to consistently maintain, face coverings are required. 

Currently on campus, face coverings are required in the following spaces where it is difficult to consistently practice social distancing:  

  • All laboratory spaces  
  • Reception areas, waiting rooms, and lobbies 
  • Elevators 
  • Stairwells 
  • Hallways and vestibules 
  • Restrooms 
  • Common areas 
  • Meeting/conference rooms 
  • Shared workspaces 

In addition,   

  1. All classrooms are being reviewed and possibly reconfigured to ensure social distancing.  Special health and safety protocols for classrooms that are unable to be configured to ensure social distancing are being developed.  Among those protocols are: 
    • Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will ensure that each classroom is provided with a supply of facial coverings for those who wish to wear one but who did not bring a facial covering to the classroom. 
    • Either plastic lectern barriers or plastic face shields will be available to faculty members to use while lecturing in classrooms. More information will be shared before the semester about how these items can be requested.
  2. Some classes will be transferred to larger spaces which allow for social distancing. 
  3. All employees and students will be asked to complete an online Covid-19 health and safety training prior to arriving on campus and will be encouraged to take a health and safety pledge as part of the training. 
  4. We will ask all members of the community to follow the Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions before coming to campus or leaving their residence.  
  5. Thermal screening will be deployed in strategic locations. 
  6. When any member of the Georgia Tech community tests positive for, or is diagnosed with, Covid-19, we will follow direction and guidance from the GDPH. We will ensure that students in isolation or quarantine continue to receive dining, health, and academic services. 
  7. Testing is available for symptomatic students at Stamps Health Center. We’re exploring options to expand additional testing on campus for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff. 
  8. A public messaging campaign is being created to strongly encourage the wearing of facial coverings while on campus. 

We have planned these preventative measures using guidance provided by the USG, the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and all existing executive orders from the governor of Georgia. We will continue to add new measures and update our plans each time new information about Covid-19 becomes available from these groups.  

Personal Protective Equipment Supplies  

A critical component to reopening campus safely and responsibly is providing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to our community members. EHS is coordinating PPE orders for General Building and Campus Operations (non-GTRI), as has been done for research operations during the summer research ramp-up. 

All members of the campus community will be provided two reusable cloth face coverings.  

ONGOING UPDATES 

We know there is a lot of uncertainty as we finalize details about the return to campus this fall.  We are committed to communicating with you each time new information becomes available. 

For more information about any aspect of our plan to resume in-person instruction in August, please consult our Tech Moving Forward website and our Frequently Asked Questions. 

Thank you,  
Covid-19 Response Task Force  
Georgia Institute of Technology  

April 10, 2020 — Academic Programming Update

All institutions within the University System of Georgia, including Georgia Tech, will continue online courses during May and the summer semesters, with only limited exceptions. Limited campus operations also continue to be in place until further notice, with only minimal staff physically on-site to ensure continuity of certain services.

As such, programming, events, and services traditionally held on Georgia Tech’s campus during the summer have been moved online, postponed, or canceled. More details will follow, but several affected programs include:

FASET Orientation
All FASET orientation programs for new first-year and transfer students will be offered online this summer. Updates to the schedule of dates and a detailed day-of-schedule program will be forthcoming in the next few days. Additionally, there will be optional programs offered online by departments during the summer, and in-person sessions offered during the Week of Welcome.

iGniTe First-Year Summer Launch Program
The iGniTe Summer Launch program for incoming first-year students who will begin Georgia Tech during the summer session will be offered online. Students will take two online courses, plus an online version of GT1000 First-Year Seminar. Online community-building and co-curricular activities are under development to enhance the program.  

Wreck Camp iGniTe and Wreck Camp ATL
Wreck Camp iGniTe (Wreck Camp for iGniTe participants), and Wreck Camp ATL are canceled. As of now, Wreck Camp Odyssey, the four-day extended orientation program, is still scheduled for August 5-8. Students who have already registered for either Wreck Camp iGniTe or Wreck Camp ATL will be asked if they would like to move their registration to Wreck Camp Odyssey.

Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA) Events
External GTAA summer events, including athletic camps normally held on campus, have been indefinitely postponed. If circumstances permit, a revised summer camp schedule will be issued at a later date. GTAA summer academic activities offered to our cohort of incoming student-athletes will be moved online.

Conference Services
Summer conferences hosted by the Department of Housing and Residence Life have been canceled for Summer 2020.  

Tech Wreck Day Camp
A decision about Tech Wreck Day Camp, hosted by the Campus Recreation Center, will be made at a later date.

CEISMC and College-Hosted K-12 Summer Camps
These camps are being evaluated separately, and further guidance about these programs will be shared as it becomes available.

We will continue to keep you updated on affected programs and activities.

April 7, 2020 - Course Registration and Campus Operations

Along with our 25 peer institutions of the University System of Georgia (USG), Georgia Tech will continue to deliver instruction remotely during May and for the summer semesters, with only limited exceptions. 

Registration for Summer 2020 began on March 23 and ends on May 15. Time tickets for registration are being released in groups and that process is ongoing now. The Schedule of Classes for Summer 2020 is online.

As a reminder, the USG has asked all institutions to continue current telework and flexible work strategies for faculty and staff until further notice. USG institutions remain open, with only minimal staff physically on-site to ensure continuity of certain services.

Consistent with the Governor Brian Kemp’s executive order to shelter in place, we will continue to operate in a research ramp-down mode with only previously approved essential research activities happening on campus for at least the next two weeks, and, after that, until further notice. Although instruction will be remote for the summer, our education and research missions are interrelated, so we are continuously evaluating the appropriate level of research activities that should take place on campus as we navigate this situation.

Impact on Fall Semester 2020

All institutions within the USG are tentatively planning to return to normal on-campus operations for the fall semester should guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health allow it.

Registration for Fall 2020 also began on March 23 and continues through May 15 for continuing students. There will be a Phase II registration period for Fall 2020 that begins on August 8.

We will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available. 

April 2, 2020 - USG Continues Online Instruction for May, Summer Semesters

Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia’s 26 institutions will continue to deliver instruction remotely during May and summer semesters, with only limited exceptions.
 
USG institutions are tentatively planning to return to normal on-campus operations for the fall semester should guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health allow it.
 
In the interim, all institutions have been asked to continue their current telework and flexible work strategies for faculty and staff. USG institutions overall have remained open, with only minimal staff physically on-site to ensure continuity of certain services.
 
We continue to prioritize the safety of our students, faculty and staff as we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia and fulfill our mission to graduate our students in these challenging times.

Source: usg.edu/coronavirus

Staff Operations

October 28, 2020 — Spring Instruction Message for Faculty and Staff

Dear Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff:

Coming together as a community now is more important than ever. The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. I am so thankful for the resiliency and spirit of our community this semester. Faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff have continued to provide their critical support to our academic mission. The semester has been tough, but we know the campus community will continue to work together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our own faculty and staff experts have been involved in all areas of our planning. Our campus surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a consistent commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, have continued to keep transmission low throughout our community. The U.S. has seen a recent rise in cases, and as reported last week, we have also seen a small uptick in positive cases on campus. Persistence and a return to basics — Test. Mask. Distance. — are necessary to get us through the fall as safely as possible and will be key to all members of the Georgia Tech community going home for the holidays, healthy.

Spring Plan – Safely Increasing On-Campus Presence
Our efforts to keep our community safe this semester have inevitably reduced opportunities for social and academic face-to-face interaction. We have received feedback from students feeling at times isolated and missing a more engaged academic experience. We have learned much this semester about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely improve our campus experience.

For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction, to include regular, prescheduled in-person meetings in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by the following two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount and we will continue to keep instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience as critical to our mission.

This plan was developed in close coordination and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and members of academic leadership, including college deans and school chairs, among others. While we will increase personal engagement for our students, we will also maintain the necessary flexibility to balance health and safety with the pedagogical needs of each course.

What We’ve Learned
As we prepare for the spring semester, we want to build on what is working well and use what we have learned this fall to make improvements where needed. This fall, we gathered more than 6,000 student survey responses and talked to more than 200 students, faculty, and teaching assistants (TA) through listening sessions. Among the highlights, and a true testament to Georgia Tech’s outstanding faculty and academic staff, the data revealed that on average nine out of 10 student survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their instructors have been empathetic and flexible with them during the pandemic. Some of the feedback was not as positive. Feedback showed us very clearly that students want more in-person experiences. We also heard various reports of difficulties around the hybrid model, including inconsistent personal engagement that left students feeling isolated, technology challenges associated with both synchronous and asynchronous delivery, and an increase in the amount of time needed to prepare and deliver courses. Read the student survey and focus groups summary report.

The community has provided us with many valuable insights. For example, the data suggest that short, pre-recorded asynchronous lecture content combined with opportunities for engagement in synchronous sessions works well. We know how widely academic disciplines can differ in their teaching approaches so we will coordinate teaching recommendations that are collated at the unit/program level. So, while our principles and goals are discipline-neutral, the ways that instructors will teach are particular to their disciplinary expertise to meet the unique needs of each course, the discipline, and student populations.

With this community feedback in mind, we will approach the spring course modes with the following goals:

  • Continue to be guided by the scientific evidence concerning the transmission and mitigation of the coronavirus, including recommended personal hygiene and physical distancing behaviors, consistent participation in surveillance testing, and appropriate preparedness and responsiveness to any positive cases within the Georgia Tech community.
  • Maximize the number of courses offered in residential and hybrid course modes.
  • For hybrid courses, increase the number of meaningful and regular interactions to provide students greater opportunity for personal engagement with faculty, academic staff, and peers.
  • Maximize synchronous interaction whenever possible, even when combined with asynchronous lecture content, and engage students in high-quality remote instruction when in-person or hybrid instruction is not possible.
  • Be clear and consistent in all our communication about course and attendance expectations.

Academic Calendar, Course Modes, and Instructional Support

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar; refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers; and additional resources to support faculty and academic staff. These plans are consistent with the expectations of the Board of Regents as specified in the resolution approved on Oct. 13, 2020. 

Course Modes

Similar to the fall, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations.

However, as we move forward into the spring, we do need to take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering as determined by the instructor in consideration of the unique pedagogical needs of the classes. This information is critical to help students select courses that best support their academic progression and allow them to make timely decisions around housing, travel, and other personal matters.

For this reason, any hybrid course instructor should clearly outline in-person expectations and be explicit about the attendance policies in those courses. To accomplish this, the faculty and instructors are to provide as much detail as possible in the Course Descriptions Tool on or before Sunday, Nov. 1.

These expectations should also be clearly communicated in the course syllabus. Please note that the Institute's attendance policies have not changed, and following standard practice, instructors will set attendance policies for their respective courses.

Instructional Resources and Development Opportunities

Several resources are available to faculty, TAs, and instructional staff to support planning and instruction during the current semester and as they plan for spring. The Georgia Tech Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy (GTRHTA) can help instructors prepare for teaching in remote or hybrid environments. The GTRHTA provides asynchronous, self-paced resources in a Canvas course. Synchronous, expert-led sessions are also available to complement these resources, providing opportunities for deeper interaction with instructors on a variety of approaches and technologies.

Faculty, TAs, and instructional staff are encouraged to access these resources to learn more about available information on technologies for synchronous and asynchronous delivery; increasing student-content, student-student, and student-instructor interaction; optional digital proctoring; electronic assessment tools; student feedback tools; and insights on teaching effectiveness. One-on-one consultations and technology assistance are also available through our experts in the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Tech Professional Education, and the Office of Information Technology.

More broadly, the Center for Teaching and Learning offers many resources on a wide range of issues around teaching and learning. Visit ctl.gatech.edu to find helpful information on special topics as well as professional development opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and TAs.

Looking Ahead to the Spring
We have consistently turned to our community of faculty, staff, students, and parents for guidance. Thanks to all of you who have shared your ideas and concerns, but also for your creativity and resourcefulness that have brought Georgia Tech’s unique character to our ongoing planning. Above all, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and others during these challenging times.

Take care,
Steven McLaughlin, Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology

August 5, 2020 - Tech Moving Forward Update for Staff

The start to the fall semester is just around the corner and our staff has been hard at work making final preparations for our return to campus. We recognize that many have questions about what to expect regarding changes as well as health and safety precautions.

To help answer these questions, we want to remind you of the resources available on our Tech Moving Forward website, as well as other useful information:

We continually revise these resources to provide the most up-to-date information about our fall plans.

Additionally, we hope you will join representatives from the Georgia Tech Staff Council, who will moderate a “Back to Campus” Staff Town Hall on Thursday, August 13, at 11 a.m. This is an opportunity to hear from campus leadership as we get closer to the start of the semester. President Ángel Cabrera, joined by Kelly Fox, executive vice president of Administration and Finance, and Kim Harrington, associate vice president of Human Resources, will spend the hour answering questions from the staff community.

You can join the Staff Town Hall by using this event link. To submit a question in advance, email townhall@gatech.edu.

Georgia Tech Coronavirus Task Force

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. 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. 

July 10, 2020 - Important Changes to USG Healthcare Plan Coverage

Dear Colleagues,

As a result of two federal guidelines recently released, we wanted to make you aware of important changes to the USG Healthcare plan and FSA plan.

First, the COVID-19 Disaster Relief guidance went into effect on May 4, 2020, and broadly extends the window of time you have to process a qualifying life event, elect and pay for COBRA coverage, file a claim or appeal, and request reimbursement from your Healthcare Flexible Spending Account.

Second, the IRS released Notice 2020-29 which temporarily grants employer health plans greater flexibility to allow mid- year changes and extends the window employees have to file FSA claims for 2019 funds.

In response to these guidelines, the USG Healthcare plan has implemented several changes to the plan. The changes are as follows:

  • If you experience a qualifying life event, you have additional time to make mid-year changes due to your qualifying life event. You may process a qualifying life event, 30 days after the end of the State of National Emergency.
  • For the remainder of 2020, you may make changes to your healthcare coverage (i.e. change plans, add coverage, add dependents or drop coverage), regardless of whether or not you experience a qualifying life event. Note: If you cancel coverage, you must provide written verification that you have or will have other coverage.
  • You can continue to file for reimbursement of 2019 expenses through your 2019 Healthcare FSA through December 31, 2020. This includes expenses that occur after March 15, 2020.

For additional information regarding these changes, please visit the USG Benefits COVID-19 website or contact the OneUSG Connect Benefits call center at 1-844-587-4236. Representatives are available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Sincerely,

Gail Imoukhuede, CEBS
Benefits Manager, Human Resources
Georgia Institute of Technology

500 Tech Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30332-0435
gail.imoukhuede@ohr.gatech.edu | www.hr.gatech.edu​​

July 6, 2020 - Update on underlying medical conditions and the use of face coverings or masks

To the Georgia Tech Community:

Please see the communication below for updated guidance from the University System of Georgia regarding the management of Covid-19 related issues, including underlying medical conditions, and the use of face coverings or masks.


Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for managing Covid-19 related issues. Among the changes are definitions for people who will need extra precaution due to age and underlying medical conditions. In response to those changes from the CDC, the University System of Georgia (USG) is providing updated guidance on the wearing of face coverings and for who is eligible to seek alternate work arrangements due to falling into one of these categories. 

Older Adults

The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a health care provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled.

People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions

People with the following underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements under the previously developed process:

Use of Face Coverings

Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.

Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met. 

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area.  Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students.

Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

More details regarding the use of face coverings while on campus can be found here: hr.gatech.edu/face-coverings.

June 16, 2020 - Tech Moving Forward: Fall 2020

Please note: Some of the information below has been updated since this announcement was made. For the most up-to-date information and details, please visit the Campus Guidelines.


Dear Georgia Tech Community:

Today, we’re sharing our plan to safely return to campus this fall. The plan includes changes to the calendar and course delivery, strengthened health and safety protocols, and a set of personal hygiene practices for all of us.

Our goal is to bring our campus community back together and move forward safely, responsibly, and compassionately in pursuit of our important educational and research work while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety. Because of ongoing health risks, return to campus does not mean a return to the normalcy of our previous environment. Yet, with effort by each one of us and some adjustments in the way we teach, learn, and interact with one another in classrooms and labs, workspaces, and everywhere else on campus, we will be able to resume our activities and deliver on our mission while minimizing the risk for our community.

Key among the many preventive measures will be a commitment by each one of us to maintain a safe physical distance from one another and to use facial coverings whenever distancing may not be feasible. And for students, faculty, and staff who might be at higher risk of contracting Covid-19, we will establish alternative arrangements.

The information in this email will give you an overview of what our return to campus will look like, what changes to expect, what precautions we will take to keep our community safe, and what you will need to do to help everyone enjoy a healthy and productive semester. Please note that there are still details to be worked out and some of our current protocols are subject to change as more information becomes available over the coming weeks. Our commitment is to share any additions and changes as soon as possible.

The current plan draws from guidance provided by the University System of Georgia (USG), the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and all existing executive orders from the governor of Georgia.

For more information about any aspect of our return, please consult the resources available on the Tech Moving Forward website where Frequently Asked Questions are available. And, contact your academic advisors and the leaders of your unit, college, or school for individual concerns.  

We’ll need to work together to make sure we’re looking out for each other and communicating with those closest to us. If you have questions or concerns, this guide will help you find the best sources of information for each topic.

Meanwhile, we remain committed to communicating regularly about the ways Covid-19 might affect our operations. To ease any uncertainty, we will provide you with as much information as possible as quickly as possible, and we ask that you keep in mind that flexibility is key during this ever-changing global health crisis.  

OVERVIEW OF FALL PLAN


TEACHING AND LEARNING

Academic Calendar
The fall calendar looks different, but students will have the same number of contact days with instructors. Changes have been made to discourage travel, including canceling the two-day fall break currently scheduled for Oct. 5-6 and ending fall instruction by Thanksgiving break. Reading days and final assessments will be administered in a hybrid format, and the calendar will be modified, as follows:

  • Aug. 17: Start of classes  
  • Sept. 7: Labor Day holiday  
  • Nov. 23-24: Final instructional days (no new material or scheduling of any other assessments)
  • Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving break  
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 8: Reading days and final assessments  
  • Dec. 9-10 or 11-12: Commencement  

Class Types and Schedules
Aiming to retain as much face-to-face experience as possible, Fall 2020 courses will be held in one of five delivery modes, from a traditional format in cases where physical distancing is a viable option to a variety of hybrid options that leverage online technology.

The five modes include:

  • Residential: Courses/sections that are residential with physical distancing measures in place in the classroom. This is the traditional format that we are treating as the desired option.  
  • Remote with limited in-person instruction (hybrid):
    • Hybrid hands-on: Courses/sections will offer lectures via remote delivery and bring students to a classroom for hands-on, studios and lab activities with social distancing measures in place.
    • Hybrid touch points: Courses/sections will offer lectures in an online format and will bring students to the classroom several times during the semester for meaningful in-person experiences.
    • Hybrid split: Courses/sections will offer lectures both in class and through broadcast recordings using classroom technology but will also bring smaller groups of students to the classroom on a predetermined basis with social distancing measures in place
  • Remote: Courses/sections that are completely remote and delivered online (e.g., OMSCS courses).

Due to a limited supply of instructional space that can accommodate appropriate physical distancing, we will prioritize certain classes for in-person delivery: lab classes, group project classes, senior design classes, small discussion classes, and classes that require interaction with physical projects and equipment in most or all sessions. Details about which courses will be taught via which mode of instruction are still being worked out.
 
To the best of our ability, we will prioritize the courses needed by graduating students, phase in campus activities as soon as feasible, expand course delivery options and schedules to compensate for reduced class sizes due to physical distancing, expand the pool of students, and allow for flexibility in campus options.

For more information about course delivery and schedules, contact the Registrar’s Office. We’re working through additional details in consultation with college and school leaders and faculty members. We will have more information about specific courses and the mode of delivery in the coming weeks.

For more information about teaching and learning during the Fall 2020 semester, contact your academic advisor or the Office of the Provost at provostsoffice@gatech.edu.

Study Abroad and Other International Programs
We have canceled all study abroad, international internships, exchange programs, and any Georgia Tech-sponsored international curricular and co-curricular travel programs for Fall 2020. We will welcome students to our Georgia Tech-Lorraine and Georgia Tech-Shenzhen campuses on Aug. 31 and Aug. 17, respectively, and are implementing plans to minimize health risks and ensure academic continuity in the event programs are disrupted during the semester.

For more information about study abroad and other international programs, contact the Office of International Education.


CAMPUS SAFETY

Georgia Tech will retrain staff, adopt new cleaning methods, and redirect select operations to provide more time for cleaning and disinfection. Other precautions will include installation of signage to encourage best practices regarding personal hygiene and the movement of people through campus spaces, upgraded air filtration systems, workspace modifications, and staggered scheduling for on-campus community members. Setup in offices, classrooms, labs, makerspaces, etc. will be modified to facilitate physical distancing and enable cleaning and disinfection protocols.  

In order to maintain physical distancing, we will continue to encourage everyone who can telework to continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students.  

For more information about our enhanced disinfection practices, visit the Campus Guidelines.  

Screening and Testing
Georgia Tech will continue to encourage teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing, and those who can work remotely should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. For more information about work arrangements, refer to the Return-to-Campus Manager’s Tool Kit.  

We will ask all members of the community to administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions before coming to campus or leaving their residence. We will deploy thermal screening in strategic locations. When any member of the Georgia Tech community tests positive for, or is diagnosed with, Covid-19, we will follow direction and guidance from the GDPH. We will ensure that students in isolation or quarantine continue to receive dining, health, and academic services.

Testing is available for symptomatic students at Stamps Health Center. We’re exploring options to expand additional testing on campus for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff.

For more information on what to do if you start to exhibit symptoms at home or while on campus, visit the Campus Guidelines.

Personal Protective Equipment
Georgia Tech will centrally manage the acquisition and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide reusable cloth face coverings to the community before the semester begins. Usage and purchasing needs will be continuously monitored and will require input from units into the centrally managed system.   

During the fall semester, members of the Georgia Tech community are strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face covering on campus. Cloth face coverings are important in preventing transmission. There may be scenarios in which face coverings are required, and a process for documenting and approving those scenarios is being developed. All members of the Georgia Tech community who are typically required to wear a face mask or other personal protective equipment should continue to do so.

For more information about campus safety, contact Environmental Health and Safety.


HOUSING AND RESIDENCE LIFE

All triple and quadruple room occupancy will be eliminated for Fall 2020. We will work to maximize the number of single occupancy options available. To lower the risk in residence halls, we will use extensive signage and other communication touch points to strongly urge and promote physical distancing, wearing appropriate PPE, frequent handwashing, limiting close exposure to others, and maintaining overall health awareness.

We will provide all residential students with a kit upon move-in, including a thermometer, a cloth mask, health information, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and wipes, and tips for how residents can best access campus services, such as periodic disinfectant fogging. Move-in and move-out procedures will be staggered to limit crowding in hallways and elevators.   

For more information about Housing, contact Housing and Residence Life.

Dining
Changes for Fall 2020 include eliminating salad bars, buffets, and soup stations and providing grab-and-go options at all dining halls. Food will be prepackaged in single-serving containers. Dining hall staff will serve all food that is not prepackaged. We will reduce the seating capacity of each dining hall and increase the number of standalone market stands, food carts, and food trucks to encourage physical distancing.

All staff will wear appropriate PPE for food service and cleanliness as outlined in CDC guidelines, all dining operations will temporarily shut down after meal shifts for thorough cleaning, and each facility will be disinfected overnight.

For more information, visit Dining Services.


STUDENT LIFE

Student Organizations
Student organizations will be asked to follow physical distancing guidelines. We encourage staff to offer appointments, meetings, and trainings in a hybrid model (online and in person), and we encourage organizations to move events, activities, and meetings online whenever possible. Access to common spaces will be limited, and in-person functions will require everyone to wear PPE. If organizations cannot readily move events, activities, and meetings online, student leaders will be encouraged to revise event plans to provide strict physical distancing guidelines or consider postponement or cancellation.

Student Resources
The Campus Recreation Center; Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE); Counseling Center; Ferst Center for the Arts; Health Initiatives; Health Services; Library; Student Center; and other campus resources will be open but will follow USG and public health guidelines. Whenever possible, guests may request virtual meetings. More details will be available in the coming weeks. 

For more information, contact the Vice President and Dean of Students or the Division of Student Life.  


ATHLETICS

The Georgia Tech Athletic Association is researching and working on a plan for a possible return to competitive operations in Fall 2020. Any return to competitive athletics will follow guidance from the NCAA, Atlantic Coast Conference, USG, and government health authorities.


EVENTS

Campus event spaces will operate with reduced occupancy and physical distancing practices. All campus visitors and attendees at campus events will be expected to follow Georgia Tech’s health and safety guidelines. All campus events will be subject to a central review process, we will limit event attendance to comply with social distancing guidelines, and we will require event sponsors to produce health and safety plans to qualify for event approval.

For more information, contact Capital Planning and Space Management.


RESEARCH

At the start of the fall semester, we will continue to prioritize research requiring campus access. Additionally, research activities on hold during the summer will begin to resume. We advise all researchers to continue completing duties off-site that do not require campus access. Research at field sites will be allowed to resume depending on several factors, including travel restrictions, stay-at-home directives, and density and physical distancing requirements.

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has also outlined a plan to increase on-site presence over the course of the summer. GTRI anticipates bringing 75% or more of its workforce on-site daily by the end of the summer.  


CONTINGENCY PLANNING

Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we have prepared to move seamlessly from one method of instruction and operations to the other as public health guidance and conditions dictate. 

We’ve developed plans that respond to multiple scenarios as outlined by the University System of Georgia.

We are evaluating multiple contingency measures under the current plan. For example:

  • Residential-spread and hybrid courses will be designed with a contingency plan in place to move to remote delivery if necessary.
  • Supervisors in every department across the Institute will have their own contingency plans in place that align with USG, CDC, and GDPH guidelines and the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force.
  • All undergraduate projects that require on-campus resources will have a contingency plan in case on-campus research operations must close.

Additionally, Georgia Tech has developed an Institute-wide contingency plan for transitioning operations to remote delivery in cases of illness or in the event pandemic conditions worsen.

Employee Accommodation
Everyone should expect flexibility regarding their personal situation. Georgia Tech will continue to encourage teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing, and those who can work remotely should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students.  

Individuals who fall into one of the GDPH and CDC categories for higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 may request alternate work arrangements via Georgia Tech’s Human Resources Office. Employees who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should plan to return to campus as scheduled and work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors known to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Employees may utilize appropriate leave options as necessary, and they should contact the Human Resources Office to identify appropriate leave options.

For more information about work arrangements and leave options for employees unable to return to campus, refer to the Return-to-Campus Manager’s Tool Kit.

To request paid sick leave or expanded family medical leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), visit the Human Resources’ FFCRA portal.


WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

Thank you for your patience as we work toward creating the possibility for us to safely return to our vibrant campus in the fall. We know this is a lot of information. That’s why we’re here to support you every step of the way.

For more information about any aspect of our plan to resume in-person instruction in August, please consult our Tech Moving Forward website and our Frequently Asked Questions.

May 28, 2020 - Tech Moving Forward: A Phased Approach

Please note: Some of the information below has been updated since this announcement was made. For the most up-to-date information and details, please visit the Campus Guidelines.


Over the past few months, the Georgia Tech community has been called upon to respond to circumstances that have altered every previous reality of our daily lives. The Yellow Jacket community has proven every bit as resilient and compassionate as we could have hoped, working together to support, help, and protect one another — all while contributing to the global fight against Covid-19.

The central questions now are when and how to return to our vibrant campus. Ultimately, we want to return as safely as we possibly can, communicating clearly about the risks that still exist with Covid-19 but determined to move forward safely, responsibly, and compassionately. We recognize that many are understandably anxious about how this may be accomplished. 

In April, President Ángel Cabrera appointed a recovery task force to guide and oversee planning for the eventual resumption of Institute operations. The task force, led by Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff Frank Neville, submitted a plan to the University System of Georgia on Friday, May 15. Relying on expertise and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), and Governor Kemp’s Covid-19 Task force, Georgia Tech’s initial return-to-campus plan outlines a phased approach that prioritizes employee health and safety while providing for the delivery of critical services and preparing for the resumption of in-person campus-based instruction in August 2020.

Who Should Report to In-Person Work and When 

Supervisors will provide specific direction to their teams on when to return to in-person work. Anyone with questions about what category they fit into or when or how they should start reporting to work in person should, first, ask his or her supervisor. A phased plan for returning to in-person work has been created to guide those choices. Note: all non-essential travel is prohibited until further notice. 

In June, the ramp-up will begin. Only researchers and staff who must return to campus in order to carry out their job duties should return to working on campus. To reduce the number of people on campus, researchers and staff who can substantially carry out their work at home should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. Shift work and split work — part-time on campus and part-time at home — are encouraged to lower personnel density.

In mid-June and July, staff that support student services will be invited back to campus as we work toward an anticipated return to in-person teaching during Fall 2020. 

In late July, staff who do not directly support research or student services will continue to work remotely until further notice or may begin returning to work in staggered shifts. 

Georgia Tech has identified six categories of campus-based operations and services that will either be continued, enhanced, or resumed prior to the anticipated start of in-person instruction in August 2020. Specific guidance and information on each category are available in the detailed summer plan.

  • Ongoing activities related to support for on-campus students.  
  • Broadening of research activities from the current essential research to a phased return of all sponsored (essential and nonessential) research activity.  
  • Operations and services that will need to be conducted in anticipation of the start of in-person instruction in August 2020.
  • The final three categories include operations and services that may be resumed during the summer, pending additional guidance from the USG, public health authorities, and the NCAA. These are:
  • In-person non-credit classes.  
  • Summer camps and other community events. Student-athlete training and team activities.

 
For all administrative units and academic departments not explicitly covered in the plan, the following guidelines shall apply:

  1. Telework is encouraged for those positions able to perform job functions remotely.  
  2. Administrative units and academic departments that perform customer services or other functions that require on-campus preparations (reconfiguring space, adding signage, practicing new service protocols, etc.) prior to the start of the fall semester are asked to submit specific summer return-to-work plans that are compliant with all existing workplace health and safety guidance.
  3. In their return-to-work plans, units and departments should:
    1. Clearly specify employees who are required to work in-person in order to complete the necessary fall preparations.
    2. Include appropriate measures for social distancing that may involve staggered shifts and other scheduling adjustments.

Once those plans are complete, affected staff will be notified directly about the details related to their return to work.

Who Is Affected?

Campus groups affected immediately include additional essential research personnel and custodial and facilities employees. 

Only researchers and staff who must return to campus in order to carry out their job duties should return to working on campus. To reduce the number of people on campus, researchers and staff who can substantially carry out their work at home should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect our ability to serve students. Shift work and split work (part-time on campus and part-time at home) are also encouraged to lower personnel density.

Employees at higher risk who are unable to return to campus due to Covid-19 and wish to request an alternate work arrangement must complete a request form and provide medical documentation detailing their needs and requested support. A request form and guidance on required documentation is available on the Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR) website. Contact your HR Business Partner for assistance.  

If an employee has been advised by a healthcare provider not to work on campus, but their work cannot be done remotely, they must provide medical documentation and may be eligible to take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  

Employees who live with or care for an individual who is considered higher risk and who are able to work remotely must provide medical documentation and will be granted a temporary accommodation to continue working remotely. Employees who are unable to perform their duties remotely may be eligible to take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

If a person and supervisor cannot resolve a conflict regarding the return to campus operations, they should contact the HR Business Partner within their respective unit.  

If you will be returning to campus, please review the information below carefully. Georgia Tech’s approach to this gradual ramp-up of activity is based on what we know about Covid-19 and the specific challenges our community faces and is guided by our commitment to the health and safety of every member of our community. 

What we Know

Here is what we know about Covid-19:

  • Covid-19 is the illness that a person infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can develop.
  • There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus.
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
  • It is possible for people who are infected to infect others before they show symptoms (pre-symptomatic) or without ever showing any symptoms (asymptomatic).
  • The virus is thought to spread primarily between people in close contact (within 6 feet of one another).
  • Good hygiene and social distancing are the current best practices to avoid exposure.

As we move toward our phased reopening, we ask each member of our community to make safety and precaution-taking a personal obligation as well. We ask that you pledge to look after your own safety and the safety of those around you. The information below explains the rationale behind the changes we anticipate, what those changes will be, how we will support them, and how you can do your part as we move forward. 

Why the Focus on Student Services and Research First

Support for on-campus students is critical because there are currently a limited number of students who have remained on campus during the Covid-19 outbreak. Students have been permitted to continue to live in campus housing if they were unable to return home or lacked suitable living arrangements. Those students who have remained on campus require services such as housing, dining, health services, transportation, and the Student Center. 

The research mission of Georgia Tech is critical because it represents one of the core missions of our institution. The output of our research programs directly impacts society in the form of new discoveries, as well as new or improved technologies. The research activities at Georgia Tech have a significant impact on national security and our local and regional economies.

Our research programs also provide learning experiences that lead to graduate degrees earned by students enrolled in programs across our six Colleges. Many of these programs have been severely affected by the rapid ramp-down to essential operations, because much graduate research requires specialized equipment or other resources that are unavailable for distance learning. 

For these reasons, it is important that we ramp up our student services and research activities in a thoughtful, deliberate, and staged manner.

Health and Safety Practices Being Implemented

As Georgia Tech increases the number of on-site community members, cleaning and disinfection efforts will increase. Buildings and labs being reopened will first undergo proper cleaning and disinfection protocols. Cleaning of labs will be performed regularly by lab managers and research personnel. They will be provided training on proper cleaning methods prior to resuming lab operations. 

Buildings that house the research activities of returning researchers will be opened and maintained using new disinfection methods. Other buildings will remain closed for the time being to allow facilities resources to be shifted to areas of higher occupancy. Those same protocols will be implemented as additional buildings on campus are opened.

New measures are being put in place all over campus to safeguard each of you:  

  • All common areas will be closed, except for those where social distancing can be maintained.
  • Elevators and bathrooms will have signs posted indicating only one person is permitted at a time.  
  • Bathroom doors will be equipped with occupancy indicators.
  • Bathrooms will be closed to anyone other than cleaners during cleaning times.
  • Instructions will be posted for proper hygiene and handwashing.
  • Signs will be posted at the entrance to buildings that no one with a fever or symptoms of Covid-19 is permitted inside the building. Contact-less thermometers will be supplied to all buildings as they reopen.
  • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
    • HR will compile a list of units or offices where mask-wearing is required due to inability to consistently practice social distancing.
  • A guidebook with health information and protocols will be available for all faculty, staff, and students.
  • The following materials will be purchased and made available in workplaces to prevent the spread of Covid-19:
    • Tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Disinfectant and wipes.

Georgia Tech is also implementing a wellness check protocol to help protect the health and safety of everyone in our community. This wellness check will include temperature screenings. Contact-less thermometers will be provided onsite to staff members who are unable to screen at home. All employees should self-administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before reporting to campus. If you have a temperature greater than 100.4º F or you reply YES to any of the questions in the checklist, please follow the steps provided and do not come to work. 

These steps also apply if you begin to feel ill while at work. If that happens, notify your supervisor or manager immediately. You can find more information and download the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus

When an employee tests positive for or is diagnosed with Covid-19, the Institute will follow the direction from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The affected employee may not return to the workplace until at least 10 days have passed, symptoms have improved, and they have had no fever for at least 72 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications. Any return to work after illness will need to be coordinated with GTHR and your HR Business Partner. Employees will be required to notify the Stamps Health Center of the positive result. Stamps Health Center will interview the employee and work with the employee’s supervisor to notify any affected offices or units. Stamps Health Center will coordinate any exposure notification and contact tracing. Custodial services will clean and disinfect all areas used by the affected person.

How You Can Help Protect Yourself and Your Fellow Yellow Jackets

We recognize that many people are anxious about returning to campus. The practices below have been identified by the CDC and GDPH as best practices for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Following them is a critical responsibility for members of the Georgia Tech community. 

  • The Georgia Tech community will continue to follow and promote basic guidelines, including:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inner elbow.
  • It is strongly encouraged that cloth face coverings be worn at all times while on campus. Note: cloth face coverings are the best option for general use and allow for critical supply of surgical masks or N-95 respirators to be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Additional guidance on appropriate face covering types is below:
    • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
      • HR will compile a list of units or offices where mask-wearing is required due to inability to consistently practice social distancing.
    • Cloth face coverings are reusable and will be utilized outside of lab spaces. They may be used in lab spaces that do not contain chemical, biological, or radioactive agents as well.
    • Single-use surgical masks are required to be worn, and will be provided, while in lab spaces containing chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. In labs where chemical, biological, or radioactive agents are present, normal lab safety and PPE protocol will remain in place.
    • N-95 respirators should be worn only when required by risk assessment for specific lab research protocols and require consultation and approval of Georgia Tech Environmental Health and Safety.  
    • Employees who, due to their job function, are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people will be required to wear cloth face coverings while at work. (Cloth face coverings will be provided for employees who are required to wear them.)  
    • A limited supply of cloth face coverings will be available from EHS for employees who are unable to procure their own.  
  • Employees are expected to practice social distancing, also called physical distancing, (6 feet of separation from others) at work.
    • Each workplace should be reviewed and adjusted to maximize social distancing.
    • Meetings should be held virtually whenever possible.
    • Employees should not use one another’s phone, desk, office, computer, or other equipment. In cases where equipment is shared, it should be disinfected before and after each use.
    • Employees should not gather in groups greater than 10 persons when social distancing cannot be maintained.
    • Supervisors should allow employees to take meals outside or in separate locations.
    • Person-to-person contact, including handshaking, is prohibited.
    • Employees who are not able to maintain social distance due to the nature of their work (dining, mail service, maintenance, etc.) will be provided with the appropriate PPE.

As each phase is implemented, we want to ensure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible when it’s their turn to return to campus and to know that we are placing the highest priority on the safety of every member of our community.  
 
The Covid-19 situation is fluid, and guidance will very likely change over time, even after plans are prepared and adopted. This plan’s goals are to protect the health of employees and help ensure the well-being of the community. We all have an individual responsibility to contribute to proper behavior and to adhere to public health guidance, as well as to help contain the spread of the virus. Institutional controls are only as effective as the willingness of individuals to carry them out.  
 
Together with these Institute protocols and personal hygiene and screening measures, we can all contribute to our community being as safe as possible. We will continue to communicate future plans and as we know more. 

May 21, 2020 - Phased Return-to-Work Plan

Last Friday, May 15, Georgia Tech submitted to the University System of Georgia (USG) its plan for the summer months. The plan follows a phased approach that prioritizes employee health and safety while providing for the delivery of critical services and preparing for the resumption of in-person campus-based instruction in August 2020. 

The summer plan includes recommendations for a ramp-up of staff who serve:

  1. Ongoing activities, that will need to be continued throughout the summer, related to support for on-campus students.
  2. The broadening of research activities from the current “essential” research to a phased return of all sponsored (essential and nonessential) research activity.
  3. The operations and services that will need to be conducted in order to prepare for the start of in-person instruction in August 2020.

In addition, the plan includes some recommendations around various operations and services that might be resumed during summer — pending additional guidance from the USG, public health authorities, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): 

  • Resumption of in-person non-credit classes through Georgia Tech Professional Education.
  • Resumption of summer camps and other community events.
  • Resumption of student-athlete training and team activities.

The Institute’s initial budget revision submitted on Friday includes details on the furlough plan that was announced two weeks ago. The leadership team will continue to model various financial scenarios as the full impact to the state’s revenue becomes clearer. We will share details of the plan after it is approved by the USG and commit to keeping you posted if any of the additional scenarios need to be addressed. Again, this a plan, and final reductions will be determined in the weeks ahead. 

As we prepare for a return to campus, we will share weekly updates by email, with more frequent updates as needed.​

Once the USG has approved the plan, the Institute will share full details about a phased return. Until then, you should continue to work in the same manner you’ve been working. So, if you’ve been working remotely, please continue to work from home. If you are part of the campus workforce that has been reporting to campus to serve students, or to support remote instruction or researchers approved to conduct on-campus research, please continue to work with your supervisor to maintain your normal schedule.

Georgia Tech continues to implement the measures outlined in the governor’s executive order to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for those employees who report to work in person.

May 5, 2020 - Working for Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech continues to implement the measures outlined in the governor’s Executive Order to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for those employees who report to work in person. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Wearing a cloth face cover when out in public, which will help to protect others in case you are infected.
  • Screening anyone who exhibits signs of illness.
  • Requiring anyone showing signs of illness to stay home.
  • Enhancing cleaning and disinfection procedures and increasing the use of disinfectants on hard surfaces.
  • Requiring hand washing and posting information encouraging good hand hygiene.
  • Prohibiting co-workers from using each other’s phones or equipment.
  • Prohibiting gatherings of more than six staff members even during breaks.
  • Holding meetings virtually.
  • Requiring staff to follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Implementing staggered shifts.
  • Prohibiting hand shaking.

In order to succeed, we must work together as a community with a singular, shared purpose. We have an obligation to ourselves and to each other to follow the recommended guidelines. We are in this together. If you have questions, please speak with your supervisor or submit them to publichealth@gatech.edu. Please be prepared to be flexible and to adapt should the changing nature of the pandemic require us to modify plans along the way.

As a reminder, we shared with you last week that according to the University System of Georgia (USG) guidance, you should continue to work in the same manner you’ve been working during the shelter in place period. So, if you’ve been working remotely, please continue to work from home. If you are part of the campus workforce that has been reporting to campus for work to serve students, support remote instruction, or researchers approved to conduct on-campus research, please continue to work with your supervisor to maintain your normal schedule.
April 28, 2020 - Shelter in Place Order Completion
Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Order is set to expire for most Georgians on Thursday, April 30. For medically fragile and elderly Georgians, shelter in place will continue at least through May 13 – the date Georgia’s Public Health Emergency expires. 

Many of you are wondering if that means you should return to in-person work on May 1. For now, according to the University System of Georgia (USG) guidance, please continue to work in the same manner you’ve been working during the shelter in place period. The governor’s announcement included the caution for everyone to continue to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) guidance by sheltering in place as often as you can, so:

  • If you’ve been working remotely, please continue working from home.
  • If you are part of the campus workforce that has been reporting to campus for work to serve students, support remote instruction, or researchers approved to conduct on-campus research, please continue to work with your supervisor to maintain your normal schedule.
  • If you are unable to work remotely and have been following Non-Closure Emergency Leave procedures, please continue to do that as well. 

Georgia Tech will continue to implement the measures outlined in the governor’s Executive Order to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for those employees who report to work in person. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Screening anyone who exhibits signs of illness.
  • Requiring anyone showing signs of illness to stay home.
  • Enhancing cleaning and disinfection procedures and increasing the use of disinfectants on hard surfaces.
  • Requiring hand washing and posting information encouraging good hand hygiene.
  • Prohibiting co-workers from using each other’s phones or equipment.
  • Prohibiting gatherings of more than six staff members even during breaks.
  • Holding meetings virtually.
  • Requiring staff to follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Implementing staggered shifts.
  • Prohibiting hand shaking.

All campus events through June should also continue to be held virtually, rescheduled, or canceled.

In anticipation of a resumption of in-person instruction in August, 2020, USG institutions will begin to bring faculty and staff who have been in telework or flexible arrangements back to their campuses in the near future. An exact timeframe will be determined soon.

In order to ensure a smooth transition and to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have been asked to develop a plan for a staggered return of faculty and staff. The plan must promote a healthy and safe environment; comply with executive orders and directives from the governor’s office; and reflect guidance from GDPH and the CDC recommendations. The plan is to be submitted for USG review by May 15. We will share details of the plan for the phased return to work once it has been approved. 

The Institute’s COVID-19 Task Force is committed to providing you with timely updates. If you have questions, please speak with you supervisor or submit them to publichealth@gatech.edu. Please be prepared to be flexible and to adapt should the changing nature of the pandemic require us to modify plans along the way.

April 21, 2020 - Georgia Tech’s Recovery Task Force to Guide Return to Standard Operations

President Ángel Cabrera has appointed a new task force to guide and oversee planning for the eventual resumption of Institute operations.

No timetable yet exists for reopening facilities and laboratories and returning to in-person instruction. The recovery task force will begin by modeling different possible scenarios and will coordinate the actions of different units within federal, state, and University System of Georgia guidelines. The recovery task force is led by Frank Neville, senior vice president for Strategic Initiatives.

“As we’re making plans to resume campus operations, our focus is squarely on the safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Neville.

“Because we don’t yet know when the Institute will be able to resume previous levels of campus-based activity, the establishment of this task force is a proactive measure. As we develop our plans, we are drawing on the expertise of Georgia Tech faculty in public health and other disciplines to ensure that our decisions are informed by the latest research and insight.”

When Georgia Tech transitioned to distance learning and modified operations in March, every unit within the Institute executed a continuity plan unique to its needs, responsibilities, and personnel. These continuity plans coordinated specific responses to alterations in campus operations, such as distance learning, teleworking, incident response teams, and more. The recovery plans will guide units as they prepare for a phased resumption of services and operations. Since units and their operations may be differently affected by guidelines, the recovery task force will work with individual departments to assess needs and make recommendations. While many administrative offices will be able to plan resumption of operations under similar conditions, some units — athletics, research, or dining, for example — may have additional requirements to consider.

Students, faculty, and staff should continue to check Georgia Tech’s Monitoring Coronavirus site for updates.

Recovery Task Force membership:

  • Frank Neville, senior vice president, Strategic Initiatives
  • Joi Alexander, director, Health Initiatives
  • Robert Connolly, chief of police
  • Mark Demyanek, interim senior vice president, Administration Dr.
  • Jon Duke, principal research scientist and director, Center for Health Analytics and Informatics
  • Kelly Fox, executive vice president, Administration and Finance
  • Laura Gustavson, emergency management coordinator, Emergency Management
  • Kim Harrington, associate vice president, Human Resources
  • Lea Harris, graduate student, Aerospace Engineering
  • Kasey Helton, associate vice president, Campus Services
  • Jennifer Herazy, chief administrative officer, Academic Affairs and Research
  • Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director, Health Services
  • Laurence Jacobs, associate dean, College of Engineering
  • Christopher Jones, professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Pinar Keskinocak, professor and director, Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems
  • Renee Kopkowski, vice president, Institute Communications
  • Gabrielle Lonsberry, undergraduate president, Student Government Association
  • Keith McBride, chief of staff, Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • James McGarrah, interim vice president, Information Technology
  • Ling-Ling Nie, general counsel and vice president, Ethics and Compliance
  • Colin Potts, vice provost, Undergraduate Education
  • Mark Rountree, deputy director of athletics, Georgia Tech Athletics Association
  • William Smith, director, Emergency Management
  • John Stein, vice president, Student Life and dean of students
  • Michelle Thackray, consultant, Strategic Initiatives
  • Nazia Zakir, assistant vice president, Environmental Health and Safety​
March 19, 2020 - HR benefits and resources related to COVID-19

The USG Human Resources office wants to make sure employees understand the benefits and resources available related to COVID-19. Please keep in mind, guidance is changing rapidly as the situation evolves. Additional information and updates will be posted on the USG Human resources website at usg.edu/hr/benefits/coronavirus as they are received.

As the situation related to COVID-19 evolves, we want to make sure you are aware of the important benefits and resources available to you through the USG Benefits programs.

USG Healthcare Plan

For COVID-19 related in-network provider visits and testing, out of pocket costs such as deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance, will be waived ($0.00) if you are enrolled in one of the USG healthcare plans through Anthem BCBSGA or Kaiser Permanente (including employees enrolled in the Consumer Choice HSA).

All telehealth visits through LiveHealth On-Line, including those unrelated to COVID-19, will be covered at 100% with no out of pocket costs for all USG healthcare plans through June 30, 2020.

If you have concerns or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, we encourage you to take the following steps:

  • Call your provider’s office for guidance and next steps.
  • If you do not have a provider, please call the 24/7 nurseline and/or member services number for help locating a provider.
    • Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Anthem)
      • 24/7 Nurseline 1-888-724-2583
      • Member Services 1-800-424-8950
      • Website anthem.com/usg/
    • Kaiser Permanente 
      • 24/7 Nurseline (404) 365-0966 | 1-800-611-1811
      • Member Services (404) 261-2590 
      • Website my.kp.org/usg/
  • Emergency room and urgent care options are available for emergency situations. While we are working with Anthem and Kaiser Permanente to ensure benefits are processed correctly, if you have questions about benefits coverage, please call the member services number listed above.

Please Note: Kaiser Permanente has closed several smaller facilities to reallocate resources to larger facilities and is moving some previously scheduled office visits to telehealth. If you have questions, please call Kaiser at 1-800-611-1811.

Telehealth Options

Both Anthem and Kaiser Permanente offer telehealth options. If you have nonemergency healthcare concerns, telehealth can be a good option. While COVID-19 cannot be confirmed through virtual or remote care, provider teams can help with screening symptoms, assign risk, answer questions and recommend the next steps.

All telehealth visits will be covered at 100% with no out of pocket costs for all USG healthcare plans including those unrelated to COVID-19.

Pharmacy/Prescription Medications

To ensure access to prescription medications, early refill limits will be waived for 30-day maintenance prescriptions at in-network pharmacies. Additionally, CVS pharmacies are waiving charges for home delivery of all prescription medications. If you do not use a CVS pharmacy, please check with your local pharmacy for information about waived home delivery charges.

If you take a maintenance medication, we encourage you to use the 90-day supply option. This will reduce the number of trips to the pharmacy and will lower your out of pocket cost. As part of the prescription drug program, you also have the option of home delivery from CVS Caremark Mail Service pharmacy with no delivery cost.

Anthem members – Pharmacy Plan information through CVS/Caremark: 1-877-362-3922

At this time, Kaiser Permanente has not removed any refill limits for maintenance medications. However, employees can utilize Kaiser Permanente’s prescription mail order service to have prescriptions shipped home with no shipping charges.

KEPRO Employee Assistance Plan – EAP

Tips for coping with any feelings or emotions you may be experiencing related to the COVID-19 outbreak is available through the KEPRO Employee Assistance Plan via phone at 1-844-243-4440 or on-line at EAPHelplink.com (company code is USGCares).

USG partners with the KEPRO Employee Assistance Program to provide support and resources on personal matters to improve your overall life and well-being. In addition to phone counseling and in-person counseling referrals (first 4 visits are at no cost), the EAP includes additional products and services at no cost such as:

  • Legal and Financial Services
  • Childcare and eldercare referrals and advice
  • Grief and loss support
  • Taxpayer information

The KEPRO EAP is available 24/7/365 to offer telephonic support to you and your family members at 1-844-243-4440.

NonUSG Healthcare Plan Covered employees For employees not enrolled in the USG Healthcare plan, a telehealth option is available through LiveHealth On-line at $59 per visit. For acute, non serious medical concerns, you may consider a retail health clinics or a quick care center.

COVID-19 Hotline - Information from Department of Community Health
The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Hotline: 1-844-442-2681

Financial/Market Volatility Concerns

USG has partnered with CAPTRUST to provide Retirement and Financial Advisory Services to USG employees. CAPTRUST offers a no cost advice line for all benefited employees and representatives are available to answer employees questions and concerns about the market.

To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-967-9948 or on-line at captrustadvice.com. Representatives are available Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Information and updates are available on the USG Benefits web page at usg.edu/hr/benefits/coronavirus. General information about COVID-19 is available at the CDC website at cdc.gov/coronavirus or on the Department of Community Health website at: dph.georgia.gov/.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact hr.ask@ohr.gatech.edu.