Updated September 21, 2020
This academic year presents challenges unlike any the Georgia Tech community has faced before. We are excited to be together again on campus, but things look very different this fall. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff continue to come first.
Beyond the required face coverings, physical distancing, and personal hygiene that we will each practice, there are other necessary changes around campus. These changes include 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.
The Covid-19 situation is fluid, and guidance will likely change over time. We’ve prepared three contingency plans to address this possibility. Under the current contingency plan, we have returned to classes this fall with the above-mentioned measures in place. If necessary, plans also exist for transitioning to an online format for a period of time during the semester. Throughout the fall, we will continue to communicate clearly and consistently. The information below explains the rationale behind the changes on campus, what those changes are, and how you can do your part as we move forward.
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, wearing face coverings, social distancing, and getting tested regularly are the current best practices to keep the virus from spreading on campus.
Accommodations for Those at Higher Risk for Severe Illness with Covid-19
Over the summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on Covid-19, including definitions of those who need extra precautions. In response to those changes from the CDC, the University System of Georgia (USG) provided updated guidance on those who are eligible to seek alternate work arrangements or academic accommodations due to an increased risk of severe illness with Covid-19.
Faculty and staff who fall into one of the following GDPH and CDC categories for higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 may request alternate work arrangements.
- Fill out and submit the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.
- Documentation for underlying medical conditions will be required as a part of the request.
- All requests should go to the Institute’s human resources office, which will review the request and upon approval will work with the employee and their immediate supervisor in documenting and providing for the alternate work arrangement.
Students may request an accommodation through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) due to:
- presence of a condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or
- identification as an individual of higher risk for Covid-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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.
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:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
Employees who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19
Faculty and staff 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 the Covid-19.
Employees may use appropriate leave options as necessary. Employees should contact the campus human resource 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 below.
Georgia Tech will adhere to current USG workplace health and safety guidance and all existing executive orders issued from the Office of Governor Brian Kemp.
Follow Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.
- Be respectful of others’ personal space.
- Assess and adjust spaces to maximize social distancing, including spacing furniture with 6 feet of separation.
- Hold virtual meetings and gatherings whenever possible.
- Provide services remotely whenever possible.
- Do not share phones, desks, offices, computers, or other equipment. In cases where equipment is shared, it should be disinfected before and after each use.
- Do not gather in groups greater than 50 persons, where social distancing cannot be maintained. Gathering responsibly means maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals and wearing face coverings at all times.
- Think creatively of ways to facilitate safe social interactions. For example, hold outdoor and physically distanced events to reduce the risk of contagion relative to indoor spaces.
- When interacting in open environments (e.g., outdoors, atriums, auditoriums) or in indoor common areas, keep a safe social distance.
- Limit occupancy in elevators to maintain social distancing.
- Use care when entering or exiting restrooms to maintain a safe distance.
- Do not use a restroom when it is being cleaned.
- Supervisors should allow employees to take meals outside or in separate locations.
- Cancel or postpone any events or activities (networking happy hours, lunch-and-learns, etc.) or consider hosting them virtually.
- Avoid all person-to-person contact, including handshaking.
Georgia Tech’s 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 Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Cleaning and disinfection efforts on campus have increased. Building managers and Facilities Management are adhering to the following measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 and promote a healthy and safe campus:
- Buildings and labs that have reopened have undergone proper cleaning and disinfection protocols.
- All uses of indoor common areas must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some common areas may be closed if social distancing cannot be maintained while in use.
- Elevators will have signs posted indicating their capacity to allow for proper social distancing.
- Restrooms will be disinfected four times a day. Use caution when entering or exiting to maintain social distancing.
- Restrooms will be closed to anyone other than cleaners during cleaning times.
- Cleaning of labs will be performed regularly by research personnel. They will be trained in proper cleaning methods prior to resuming lab operations.
- Instructions will be posted for proper hygiene and handwashing, according to GDPH and CDC guidelines.
- If an employee is diagnosed with or tests positive for Covid-19, areas occupied by the affected employee will be closed for 24 hours when possible. If a 24-hour closure is not feasible, the area will remain closed for as long as possible without disrupting campus operations.
- Custodial services will clean and disinfect all areas used by the Covid-19-positive person.
The following materials will be purchased and made available in workspaces to help prevent the spread of Covid-19:
- Tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Disinfectant and wipes.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We know that Covid-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets produced when someone who has the virus talks, coughs, or sneezes. It is also possible to have Covid-19 without any symptoms and spread it without knowing you are doing so.
Face Coverings on Campus:
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 6 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.
Cloth face coverings may be used in lab spaces that do not contain chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. 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 these agents are present, normal lab safety and PPE protocol will remain in place.
For more information about face masks and coverings, review the guidelines from Human Resources: hr.gatech.edu/face-coverings.
Free instructions for making your own face mask and face shield can be found here: c.gatech.edu/instructions.
Georgia Tech Covid-19 Student Educational and Response Team
Led by the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Provost, the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Student Educational and Response Team (GT CO-SERT) is a temporary collaborative team charged with reviewing reported questions and concerns related to students or student groups and adherence to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.
The CO-SERT will review reported concerns or questions, communicate with individuals or groups, and determine further response or referrals, as necessary. Its actions may include follow-up with campus community members; clarification of current guidance and campus expectations; additional informational or educational efforts; and if necessary, referral to applicable campus resources or offices to consider enforcement processes. CO-SERT does not intend to alter or supersede any existing campus enforcement processes, and the team will be disbanded as circumstances related to Covid-19 dictate.
Questions and concerns from faculty, staff, and community members related to students and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put on and take off the face covering by handling only the ties.
- A face covering should fit snugly against your face with no gaps.
- Your face covering should always cover both your nose and mouth completely.
- Do not touch the front of the face covering.
- Put on and take off the face covering by handling only the ties.
- Wash hands immediately after removing the face covering.
- Do not share a face covering or any other PPE. Handle only your own face covering — not that of others.
- Wash cloth face covering after each use.
- Can be included in regular laundry.
- Use warmest setting appropriate for the fabric.
- Dry completely on high heat setting or in direct sunlight.
Daily Wellness Check and Screening
Georgia Tech is implementing a self-screening process to support the early identification of illness and help protect the health and safety of our community. In addition to self-screening, thermal screening will be deployed in strategically selected locations.
Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening and Guidance
All Georgia Tech community members are strongly encouraged to administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before leaving their residence.
Based on guidance from the CDC, employees should consider these questions each day before coming to campus:
Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions
- Do you have a fever (temperature over 100.4ºF or 38ºC) without having taken any fever-reducing medications?
- Do you have a loss of smell or taste?
- Do you have a cough?
- Do you have muscle aches?
- Do you have a sore throat?
- Do you have shortness of breath?
- Do you have chills?
- Do you have a new or unusual headache?
- Have you experienced new onset of any gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite in the last few days?
- Have you, or anyone you have been in close contact with, been diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed in quarantine for possible exposure to Covid-19 within the last two weeks?
- Have you been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a medical professional or a local public health official within the last two weeks?
You can download the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist PDF at c.gatech.edu/daily-check
If you reply YES to any of the questions in the checklist, stay in your residence. If you begin to feel ill while on campus, you should immediately return to your place of residence. If possible, avoid all public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. See the “If You Get Sick” section for more information on the steps you should take. You will be expected to leave campus and self-isolate until all appropriate criteria for your return are met.
Example of thermal image screening
Georgia Tech will deploy thermal image screening at strategic locations on campus that will not create bottlenecks or crowding or place people at unnecessary risk of exposure. All personnel conducting the screenings will have the appropriate training and resources.
Signs will be posted at building entrances prohibiting anyone with a fever or Covid-19 symptoms from entering. Contact-less thermometers will be supplied to all buildings as they reopen.
Georgia Tech may deploy additional methods of temperature screening, including thermal imaging and handheld infrared thermometers, at locations throughout campus.
If you are found to have an elevated temperature (over 100.4º F or 38º C), follow the appropriate steps outlined in the Covid-19 Exposure Decision Tree (https://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/decision-tree).
Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing
Georgia Tech has launched a testing program that relies on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus. The goal is to test as many as 1,500 asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff daily. 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 dramatically increases the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.
The success of this coronavirus surveillance approach will depend on asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff getting tested weekly. Broad testing is essential, and everyone is encouraged to participate.
All tests are free of charge.
Testing for Symptomatic Individuals
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 from August 18 through September 10.
Rest assured, if you are living on campus and receive a positive test result, you may isolate at your permanent residence or in a dedicated space provided by Georgia Tech Housing for this purpose. If this happens, we will work with you to ensure you have the support you need, including appropriate academic accommodations, health services, and meal delivery. Learn more about isolation and quarantine.
Contact Tracing and Notification
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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 quarantine 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.
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
If You Get Sick
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.
You should act quickly, following the steps below.
- If you didn’t receive your results while at Stamps Health Services, return to your residence and avoid taking public transit.
- Report your positive test result via the online form: c.gatech.edu/covid19reporting.
- Contact your primary care physician or Stamps Health Services.
- Await a call from GDPH and the Georgia Tech contact tracing team.
Faculty and Staff
- If you’re on campus, return to your place of residence.
- Report your positive test result via the online form: c.gatech.edu/covid19reporting.
- Contact your primary care physician.
- Contact your supervisor.
- Await a call from GDPH and the Georgia Tech contact tracing team.
If you begin to have symptoms of Covid-19, follow the steps below.
- Stay at home or in your dorm room until you can get a medical evaluation.
- Separate yourself from others.
- Faculty and staff, contact your primary care physician.
- Students, schedule a Covid-19 test at Stamps Health Services at health.gatech.edu/make-appointment or 404.894.1420.
- All positive test results must be reported to Stamps Health Services at c.gatech.edu/covid19reporting.
For either situation, follow the appropriate scenario below for returning to campus.
- Do not leave your isolation location, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas or return to campus.
- Monitor yourself for symptoms of Covid-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may be present as well.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care immediately if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions for checking your symptoms and reporting information.
- Separate yourself from other people.
If you test positive for Covid-19 or begin to have symptoms of Covid-19, you must take immediate action for your own health and the safety of others. 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.
Before returning to campus, you must meet the Return to Campus guidelines below.
Faculty and Staff
Prior to physically returning to work on campus or visiting the campus temporarily, employees are required to adhere to Georgia Tech’s “Return to Work” guidelines, shown below. These guidelines apply to all employees, regardless of their classification, and specifically cover employees who:
- Have tested positive for Covid-19 or are presumed to have had Covid-19 based on symptoms.
- Did not exhibit Covid-19 symptoms but tested positive.
- Have been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
If an employee is working on campus or at a remote location, the employee must abide by the following guidelines before coming to campus for any reason.
If you tested positive for Covid-19 and had mild to moderate symptoms (but did not require hospitalization), you may end isolation and return to campus when you have met all of the following criteria:
- No fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
- Improved symptoms.
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
If you tested positive for Covid-19 but did not have symptoms, you may end isolation and return to campus when you have met the following criteria:
- At least 10 days have passed since your positive test sample was collected.
- You have not developed symptoms of Covid-19 in the 10 days since your test sample was taken.
If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19 and have stayed quarantined for 14 days:
- You may return to campus if you have not exhibited any Covid-19 symptoms during the 14-day quarantine period.
- Get tested between five and 10 days after exposure.
- Continue to quarantine for the full 14 days even if you test negative.
- Please note: If you develop Covid-19 symptoms, follow guidance from the section titled, If You Get Sick above.
Faculty and Staff: Documents Required for Your Return to Work
Before returning to work, employees are required to notify Stamps Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide GTHR Benefits with one of the following documents:
- Fitness-for-duty Certification Form (c.gatech.edu/fitness-for-duty)
- Physician's Statement
- Other approved documentation (contact GTHR Benefits at email@example.com for support)
Employees should submit the document to the GTHR confidential fax at 404.894.6978 to the attention of the GTHR Benefits Department. Employees should not submit this information through ServiceNow.
USG Approved Plan and Supporting Documents