The most current status updates from around Georgia Tech.
August 31, 2021 — Faculty Update from Provost Steve McLaughlin
As we are in the second full week of fall classes, I wanted to reach out and share what I hope is some helpful information.
First, I cannot begin to express my incredible thanks to you all for facing the challenge and focusing on students, and their success and progress, while keeping the well-being of the entire community at the forefront. We have heard from a number of you in the last week and especially in the last couple of days. We know there are many who are very concerned about being in the classroom amid the current situation with the virus.
I want to use this space to highlight some things to think about, and possibly act on, while you are navigating the beginning of the term. While there are policies we do not control, we are finding that many faculty members are using technology in ways that allow for continued in-person instruction and address some of the requests from students for flexibility, especially if they are not able to come to class due to illness or quarantine.
Layers of mitigation
Before highlighting some resources, I would like to highlight what we have shared before — namely, we’ve learned that it is layers of mitigation that matter in reducing the transmission of Covid-19. We have robust initiatives in asymptomatic testing, vaccines, and improved ventilation and filtration in our facilities. A key part of this last piece is the recent installation of portable air purifiers in 200 classrooms. We have heard feedback that some of these are a bit noisy. Please hang in there. These scrubbers have been proven effective at giving an additional level of clean air. We are not aware of any virus spread in the classroom last year, and we remain diligent in our efforts to keep it that way.
In our previous communications, we have highlighted the policy that the mode of instruction can only be changed if the instructor tests positive for Covid-19 or has a Covid-19 exposure. We have heard from students and SGA leadership that many would like access to recordings that an instructor might have or make, particularly if they are not able to come to class due to illness. While we have not required faculty to record their lectures, we are learning about a host of things instructors are doing (flipping the classroom, simulcasting, etc.) that enable students who cannot attend class to keep up. Please see this list of technology-based solutions that allow for in-person instruction to continue while meeting the needs of students who are not able to come to class.
We continue to encourage our community to follow CDC guidance on wearing masks. As I shared in my newsletter last week, in the classroom I encourage you to communicate your preference openly and sincerely at the beginning of the semester. If you are comfortable doing so, you might also share the personal experience and/or perspective that supports your preference. I know your passion for your work and those you teach is at the center of all that you do.
What to do if a student informs you that they have tested positive
I want to highlight one of the most frequent questions we have heard from several of you. Some instructors have been asking what they need to do when a student informs them that they have tested positive for Covid-19. Basically, support the student, protect their privacy, and continue to teach in your existing class mode.
Details around the Institute’s procedures and communication processes for faculty are available online as well as the form for students to report a positive test. More information is available by reviewing the Covid-19 Decision Tree and the Covid-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions. Information on what to do about your classes if you become ill is available in the FAQs on the Office of the Provost site.
Accommodating students who are ill, have tested positive, or need to quarantine
Instructors should accommodate students who need to quarantine due to Covid-19 as they normally would have accommodated ill students before the pandemic.
The method or approach to providing content and makeup work for the students is at the instructor’s discretion. If available, faculty may wish to use some of the technology options given above, but again, the instructor is in the best position to determine how to support a student who must miss class.
Again, we are grateful to all of you for your dedication and versatility in challenging times. We are committed to providing you with the resources you need, and a big part of that is ongoing, two-way communication. In addition, I ask that you be purposeful about sharing information with your full instructional team, including teaching assistants. As we listen to your feedback, we are updating frequently asked questions on the Tech Moving Forward site. As a reminder, Academic FAQs are available on the Office of the Provost site.
Take care, please be in touch, and all the very best,
Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs
- August 26, 2021 — FDA Approves Covid-19 Vaccine
If you’ve been hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine and a reason for that hesitancy has been that vaccine approval came through an Emergency Use Authorization, there is an important development to consider. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older — the very same vaccine administered by Stamps Health Services since January 2021.
The Pfizer vaccine has proven to be effective at preventing severe illness, and the recent full FDA approval supports this finding. Data across the U.S. show that new hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus variants are associated almost entirely with unvaccinated individuals.
As a reminder, if you are unvaccinated and are exposed to someone with Covid-19, you will be subject to quarantine per current Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines.
If you have questions or concerns about vaccination, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider, or any member of our Stamps Health Services team led by Dr. Ben Holton, senior director. Getting vaccinated at Georgia Tech is easy and free.
Through the end of this week, the vaccine clinic is being conducted at McCamish Pavilion. Beginning Aug. 31, the vaccine clinic is moving to Stamps Health Services. Hours of operation will be:
- Aug. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Sept. 7 – 10 and Sept. 13 – 17 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 21.
Free parking is available at the Family Housing parking deck (ER66) while the clinic is at McCamish. Parking will be provided in the W02 deck when the clinic moves to Stamps Health Services.
If you’ve been hesitant to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, we hope that you will reconsider. If there is one thing each of us can do to protect ourselves and keep others safe, it is to get vaccinated. Make your appointment today at mytest.gatech.edu.
- August 20, 2021 — Notice about Third Vaccine Doses
Georgia Tech continues to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and work with the Georgia Department of Public Health to provide Covid-19 vaccines for the campus community.
Recently, the CDC recommended a third dose of the two-dose vaccine series (i.e. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines) for individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This guidance is designed to help these individuals develop adequate protection against Covid-19.
Beginning immediately, Georgia Tech will offer third doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to eligible community members who have the following medical conditions:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies.
- Solid-organ transplant recipient and taking immunosuppressive therapy.
- CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipient (within two years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
- Moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.
To schedule a vaccination appointment for your third dose, go to mytest.gatech.edu. The third dose should be given no sooner than 28 days after the second dose and should be the same vaccine type that was given for the first and second doses. Your Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card lists the type of vaccine and dates administered. Stamps Health Services has a limited number of doses of Moderna vaccine. If you received an initial series of Moderna vaccine and should receive a third dose, contact Dr. Holton, senior director, Stamps Health Services, directly at email@example.com.
As a reminder, if you or an eligible family member (spouse, domestic partner, or dependent child age 12 years or older) have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine and would like to do so, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment today. Vaccines are safe and effective against Covid-19, including the delta variant. Visit health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/vaccine for more information about the Covid-19 vaccine, including how to schedule an appointment at the vaccine clinic currently being conducted at McCamish Pavilion.
More information will be shared with the campus community about third vaccine doses, including expanded eligibility, as soon as it becomes available.
- August 2, 2021 — Preparing for Fall Semester
As we prepare for a new academic year, I want to thank you and every member of our community for all you have done and continue to do to keep Georgia Tech strong, stay safe and healthy, and deliver on our important mission even under the most challenging circumstances.
I am particularly grateful to all of you who have gotten vaccinated against Covid-19. Thanks to the work of the Stamps Health Services and the Covid-19 response task force, as well as your commitment to the health of our community, we have administered more than 32,000 vaccines to more than 17,000 individuals on campus. Thousands more have been vaccinated elsewhere, contributing to the safety of our entire community.
The new vaccines have proven to be extraordinarily effective at preventing severe illness. Data across the U.S. show that new hospitalizations and deaths due to the new virus variants are associated almost entirely with unvaccinated individuals. If there is one thing each one of us can do to protect ourselves and keep others safe, it is to get vaccinated. If you have questions or concerns about vaccination, it’s critical that you discuss them with your healthcare provider or any member of our Stamps Health Services team led by Dr. Ben Holton. I ask that you reach out to them, get any information you may need, and get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Getting vaccinated at Georgia Tech is easy and free.
If you choose not to get vaccinated, you will be at risk of contracting Covid-19 and infecting others, with potentially severe consequences for you or someone else. To lower the risk for you and others, you are encouraged to wear a mask in indoor public places, including campus buildings, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are unvaccinated and are exposed to someone with Covid-19, you will be subject to quarantine per current Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines.
The CDC recently issued new interim guidance recommending the use of masks inside public buildings even by fully vaccinated individuals as a precaution given the broad circulation of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. At Georgia Tech, everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities.
I encourage everyone in the Georgia Tech community to follow these recommendations, vaccinate, and wear a mask in campus buildings.
To be clear, neither vaccination nor masking in indoor public spaces is required at Georgia Tech. The University System of Georgia (USG) continues to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the health and safety of our campus communities. While I hope you will follow these public health recommendations, we will respect individual choices.
The free asymptomatic surveillance testing program, which has been so instrumental in our ability to contain the virus on campus this past year, remains available to all students and employees. You may participate in regular testing even if you have been fully vaccinated, but I especially encourage those who have not been vaccinated to get tested weekly. We regularly update campus testing sites and hours. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, please book a test for symptomatic students.
Lastly, we have received some questions as to whether the executive order recently issued by Atlanta’s mayor requiring masks in public buildings applies to our campus. The answer is no. As a state agency, we are subject to directives and guidelines from the state and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
In sum, vaccines and masks are highly effective at stopping the spread of Covid-19. I urge all of you to take advantage of these important protections to help keep you and the rest of our community safe. By taking these measures, I am confident we will have a productive and safe semester. I look forward to seeing you on campus.
Jackets Moving Forward together!
- June 18, 2021 — Summer Campus Operations Update
Georgia Tech requests all individuals traveling to Atlanta from an international location to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our success in this new phase will also depend on students, faculty, and staff continuing to respect each other and taking measures to help protect their personal health.
While we highly encouraged to protect yourself as well as the community, at this time, it is not mandatory for staff, faculty, or students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. All plans will be adapted as needed based on public health alerts, and we will continue to communicate about current campus operations and fall updates as we have them. Here is some detailed information about what you need to know prior to arriving to campus:
If you are fully vaccinated:
• Get tested for Covid-19 within 3-5 days after arrival in the U.S.
• Monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 and get evaluated if you develop symptoms.
Note: In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:
• 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
• 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated. Visit the CDC site for additional considerations if you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system.
If you are not fully vaccinated:
• Get tested for Covid-19 within 3-5 days after arrival in the U.S.
• Self-isolate for 7 days. Note that the CDC recommends you stay isolated for the full 7 days, even if your test results are negative.
• Self-isolate for 10 days if you cannot get tested.
• Monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 and get evaluated if you develop symptoms.
Check Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours for campus testing hours, locations, and options for Georgia Tech’s free surveillance testing programs.
If you have received a vaccination on the World Health Organization (WHO) approved list, the CDC does not recommend that you receive an additional vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized list. However, individuals who have not yet received vaccinations on the FDA or WHO lists are strongly encouraged to get a FDA authorized vaccination once they arrive on the Georgia Tech campus. These individuals should work with a medical professional to understand the best vaccine option for them and can do so by scheduling an appointment at Georgia Tech’s vaccine clinic.
On-Campus, Self-Isolation Request
If you are arriving in the U.S. within seven days of your arrival to campus, please let us know if you would like to request on-campus, self-isolation housing by completing this form before you arrive.
- May 20, 2021 — Campus Operations Update
Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the much-anticipated, science-based guidance that those who have been vaccinated for Covid-19 no longer need to wear face coverings. Along with that we received guidance from the University System of Georgia (USG). We have been working through details on what that means for Georgia Tech in numerous areas this summer and in our continued plans for a fully residential experience for Fall 2021.
Throughout the pandemic, Georgia Tech has been able to contain virus spread through careful planning, by developing innovative solutions, and by being responsive to guidelines put forth by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the CDC, along with the cooperation of Georgia Tech community members in vaccinations and testing. Our success in this new phase will also depend on students, faculty, and staff continuing to respect each other and taking measures to help protect their personal health.
All plans will be adapted as needed based on public health alerts, and we will continue to communicate about current campus operations and fall updates as we have them. Here is some more detailed information.
Face Coverings, Social Distancing, and Cleaning Protocols
Our summer plans for campus included social distancing, and we are continuing that practice inside classrooms to honor the schedules and classroom assignments that had already been set. Individuals who are vaccinated do not need to wear a face covering. Individuals who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering while inside campus facilities with limited exceptions.
Effective May 10, changes to the campus cleaning protocols also went into effect.
- Summer semester plans include social distancing, and we will continue that practice inside labs to honor the arrangements that have already been set. To work within CDC guidelines, labs will now move to staffing models that allow for 3 feet of social distancing between individuals.
- Individuals in labs who are vaccinated do not have to wear a face covering. Individuals who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering while inside campus facilities.
- Otherwise, labs should revert to pre-Covid health and safety protocols as outlined by Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).
- As part of this transition, labs should review and update their health and safety protocols as necessary. EHS is available to assist lab directors in this process.
Campus Vaccine Distribution
Georgia Tech’s vaccine distribution clinic has administered 31,000 vaccines to date, and vaccine clinics are still available on campus. It has been expanded to include family members of Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students. This applies to spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children ages 12 and older. Visit the Covid-19 Vaccines at Georgia Tech site for details on making a vaccine appointment for yourself or your family members.
Students, faculty, and staff who have not been fully vaccinated are encouraged to continue to participate weekly in Georgia Tech’s surveillance testing program. Visit the Covid-19 Testing site for up-to-date times and locations.
Testing and Quarantine Following Exposure
Most fully vaccinated people with no Covid-like symptoms do not need to be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, as their risk of infection is low. In its interim public health recommendations issued May 13, 2021, the CDC noted that fully vaccinated people can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if they are asymptomatic. However, they should still monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, get tested for Covid-19, and inform their healthcare provider of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to test, mask, and distance for their personal safety. If you are unvaccinated and become symptomatic, please get tested, report any positives, and quarantine.
Study Abroad and Other International Programs
For study abroad and other international programs, Georgia Tech continues to follow guidance from the CDC, the USG, and the U.S. Department of State. We will welcome students to our Georgia Tech-Lorraine and Georgia Tech-Shenzhen campuses for Fall 2021 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.
We know that current and newly admitted international students continue to face various issues related to travel restrictions or visa matters as well as the stress of high rates of Covid-19 positives in their home countries. We continue to provide support and resources to students on and off campus through the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE). Also, the Counseling Center, Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and other offices are collaborating to offer listening sessions and support to our community. As always, staff members from the Office of International Education (OIE) are available to help with questions about U.S. government regulations and restrictions during the pandemic.
- Housing and Residence Life will be returning to normal occupancy in the fall.
- Dining Services will be returning to pre-Covid operations, with no social distancing table or seat spacing.
- Georgia Tech Public Transportation: In alignment with CDC guidance for transportation, both drivers and riders will be required to wear a mask while using campus buses and shuttles. Distancing will remain in place until July 1.
- Stamps Health Services: In alignment with guidance for healthcare facilities, masks will continue to be required for both staff and visitors.
- CARE and the Georgia Tech Counseling Center will be available for both virtual and in-person appointments.
Guidance is in place for any events on campus or at events or programs sponsored by Georgia Tech for purposes other than classes, professional education programs, or department meetings. We are returning to pre-Covid event guidelines with a few exceptions.
Visit the Special Events and Protocol site for details on the event approval process and safety protocols for on-campus events in academic spaces and off-campus, Georgia Tech-sponsored events, as well as details on hosting campus visitors, recruitment tours, and tabling.
The Georgia Tech Athletic Association plans for a return to full competitive and fan engagement operations in Fall 2021 and will follow guidance from the NCAA, Atlantic Coast Conference, USG, and government health authorities.
The State of Georgia is no longer under a non-essential travel ban. Regular travel may resume under normal travel policies. Institutions should carefully consider international travel restrictions and requirements prior to authorizing international travel.
Essential domestic travel is permitted and follows the Georgia Tech guidance and that of the destination business and/or government with the addition of the following considerations: Managers should ensure that the work requiring travel cannot be completed effectively in a virtual environment and that the travel supports projects and work that are time sensitive. Managers should evaluate what number of persons need to travel to support this essential work or research.
For international travel, most countries remain at CDC Level 3 and 4 and current requirements remain. Managers should ensure that the international travel is for research and business meetings that cannot be conducted virtually and for projects and work that are time sensitive with fixed deadlines.
Alternative Work Arrangements
The USG guidance ends all Covid-19-related work accommodations on June 30. All employees with Covid-19-related accommodations need to begin making transition plans with their managers.
Existing teleworking agreements — including those newly developed in 2020 that are not related to Covid-19 — remain valid and should be reviewed annually. Telework approvals are based on management discretion and should be granted based on what best serves students, lessons learned from the past year, and the overall institutional mission.
Future of Work
Employees have provided feedback for our Future of Work at Georgia Tech initiative created earlier this year to examine and design the optimal working environment for the Institute. As part of the Future of Work initiative, tools and resources are currently in development to assist employees with navigating a new approach to work that leverages the lessons learned over the past year and seeks to improve well-being and flexibility. In the coming months, Georgia Tech Human Resources and other departments will provide toolkits, training tools to assist with technology, and workshops to support employees during this transitional period.
- May 19, 2021 — Future Working Arrangements
Last week the University System of Georgia (USG) provided guidance for Fall 2021. In keeping with new CDC guidance and an improved public health situation, many Covid-related policies have been adjusted. Among those adjustments are changes to telework policies and an end to Covid-related alternate work arrangements. At the same time, we have learned many lessons about telework that can be applied to future working arrangements.
The past year has been a challenging one for all of us and we look forward to resuming campus activities and operations that were affected by the pandemic. We are committed to successfully navigating this transition in a manner that allows us to serve students, promote our mission, and cultivate the well-being of our community. We recognize the change to a new way of working after so much time away or working in a hybrid format can be stressful. Our goal is to share the information you need as well as equip supervisors to guide you through the changes.
Alternate Work Arrangements and Telework
The USG guidance ends all Covid-19-related work accommodations on June 30. All employees with Covid-19-related accommodations need to begin making transition plans with their managers. Our teleworking policies have always enabled teleworking arrangements. Existing teleworking agreements — including those newly developed in 2020 that are not related to Covid-19 — remain valid and should be reviewed annually.
If an employee needs to request a non-Covid-19-related accommodation under ADA, the employee may submit a request at any time by completing the Employee Accommodation Request Form.
As campus adjusts to a post-vaccine environment, it does not diminish the Institute’s commitment to flexible work. Our teleworking policies have always enabled teleworking arrangements and those are separate from ADA accommodations. Existing teleworking agreements — including those newly developed in 2020 that are not related to Covid-19 — remain valid and should be reviewed annually. Telework approvals are based on management discretion and should be granted based on what best serves students, lessons learned from the last year and the overall institutional mission. Please work with your manager to discuss your teleworking options.
In the same spirit that allowed us to support each other through the pandemic, we ask people leaders to consider individual circumstances and embrace flexible working arrangements that have always existed at Georgia Tech where appropriate.
Future of Work
Georgia Tech employees have shown tremendous flexibility and demonstrated the power of collaboration. We leveraged the ability to connect at physical distances while remaining productive and keeping our commitment to meet student needs.
Our Future of Work at Georgia Tech initiative created earlier this year to examine and design the optimal working environment for the Institute, will share its survey findings in the coming days. Throughout the spring, the Institute-wide working group received valuable input from employees, leadership, and external consultants. Your contributions to this effort will guide the working group as they design a strategy consistent with Georgia Tech’s institutional commitment to well-being.
As part of the Future of Work initiative, tools and resources are currently in development to assist employees with navigating a new approach to work that leverages the lessons learned over the past year and seeks to improve well-being and flexibility. In the coming months, Georgia Tech Human Resources and other departments will provide tool kits, training tools to assist with technology, and workshops to support employees during this transitional period.
We thank you for your continued commitment and support as we adjust to these quickly evolving realities.
- May 14, 2021 — Updated Guidance for Summer and Fall
- You’ve likely seen the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday relaxing use of face coverings inside and outside for vaccinated individuals. Yesterday, we also received guidance for fall planning from the University System of Georgia. It encourages us to review the plans for return to campus for Fall 2021, keeping in mind guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health, CDC, and state.
“The CDC has said that fully vaccinated individuals are safe to return to normal activities,” said Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director, Stamps Health Services. “Outside of healthcare facilities and public transportation settings, it is safe for those fully vaccinated to interact normally and without face coverings. The best thing you can do for your health and safety is to get vaccinated.”
Georgia Tech’s vaccine distribution clinic is still available on campus, and we’ll also continue surveillance testing throughout the summer.
The summer semester starts next week. Plans had included social distancing, and we will continue that practice inside classrooms to honor the schedules and classroom assignments that have already been set. Individuals who are vaccinated do not have to wear a face covering. Individuals who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering while inside campus facilities.
Covid-19 Alternative Work Arrangements or accommodations granted to employees through July 31, 2021, for Summer 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness will end no later than June 30, 2021. All employees are expected to return to their previous work arrangement at that time. Current summer teaching assignments are excluded from this transition deadline.
With limited exceptions, employees with current Covid-19-related telework assignments should begin transitioning back to their pre-Covid-19 work arrangements no later than June 30, 2021. Department heads or their designees have the authority to establish teleworking arrangements. All telework requests and designations are based upon management discretion and in accordance with a determination of what best serves the Institute and students.
Human Resources will be communicating with managers next week to guide them through the summer alternative work arrangements.
At this time, we plan for a return to a fully residential experience for Fall 2021. In the coming weeks, the Institute’s Covid-19 Task Force will be working through detailed plans that address fall campus health and safety guidelines, event planning, athletics planning, additional work arrangements, and travel requirements.
We understand there are still a lot of questions. All detailed fall plans will be communicated widely once finalized. They will be adapted as needed based on guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
We also understand changes like these, after a year of managing through the pandemic, might cause stress and anxiety. Please know we have resources available to help students, faculty, and staff navigate personal stress and anxiety.
- May 3, 2021 — Our sincere thanks and support: a message from Chaouki Abdallah, Kelly Fox, and Steve McLaughlin
Dear Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff:
As we reach the end of the spring semester, we wanted to express to all of you our sincere thanks and ongoing support. The pandemic has changed just about every aspect of our lives: from how and where we work to how we take care of our families, friends, and ourselves. The faculty and staff of Georgia Tech have balanced extraordinary demands at work and at home during one of the most challenging years in Georgia Tech’s almost 136-year history.
This weekend, almost 4,700 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their Georgia Tech degrees. Thousands of others were able to continue their Georgia Tech education because of your flexibility and support in and out of the classroom. And our leading national research continued as we collaborated with government and industry, and found new ways to work in the labs and remotely. Many of our researchers and their innovations have gained national and even global attention. Also, through creative problem-solving and dedication, our staff members have been able to provide consistent support for our campus community and our Institute.
While we’re all grateful that faculty and staff have prioritized student learning and wellness, along with research continuity, we also want to do everything we can to support your well-being. Understandably, there have been a number of faculty and staff members who have shared that they’re experiencing burnout to some degree. In March, Georgia Tech’s Human Resources team published a message on encouraging support and well-being for all employees that includes a number of tips and resources for resilience in these challenging times. Georgia Tech offers programs and services to support well-being for the entire community; they will continue in the fall.
Additionally, Institute leadership has gathered feedback from employees as part of the Future of Work at Georgia Tech. It is designed to create a flexible near-term roadmap for the work and workplace of staff, building on the foundations of the Workforce of the Future initiative, including lessons learned through the 2020 pandemic and incorporating changes that will be prompted by administrative excellence efforts. In addition to a survey, Tech staff members have participated in a series of online focus group sessions to help inform the Institute about what “returning to better” will look like here at Tech. Employees’ perspectives are shaping key decisions on how we adapt to the work environment to provide more flexibility, maintain responsibilities, and stay connected as a Georgia Tech community. We expect a report in early summer.
We are looking forward to the work of the Covid-19 Impacts on Faculty Working Group co-chaired by Kim Cobb, ADVANCE Professor for the College of Sciences, and Dana Randall, ADVANCE Professor for the College of Computing. The new working group is part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. It will aim to prevent the impending loss of women and underrepresented minority faculty from Georgia Tech, and to improve the well-being and support of those faculty members most negatively affected by the pandemic.
It has been quite a journey since March 2020, and we have navigated the challenges by working together. Our asymptomatic surveillance testing program is an outstanding example, designed and run by Georgia Tech faculty and staff. More than 320,000 tests have been processed since August 2020. Through testing, masking, social distancing, and special cleaning protocols, we have been able to contain Covid-19 cases within our community and reduce transmission. We are encouraged by the increasing availability of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the nation, and specifically the Stamps Health Services vaccination program. Those receiving at least one dose of the vaccine through Stamps Health Services include 53% of the Atlanta campus students, 39% of faculty, and 43% of staff. That does not include those who have been immunized elsewhere. Meanwhile, we understand from many that they have taken advantage of the mass distribution sites near them to get vaccinated, and we believe most faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to get a vaccine before the fall semester begins, offering significant protection as we return to operating fully on campus in Fall 2021.
Still, we know this is an ever-evolving situation. So, there will likely be some adaptations as we continue to follow changing public health guidelines and work to ensure that we operate safely. We are committed to keeping you informed about all operational information in a timely manner.
You have done an amazing job over the past year to continue the outstanding teaching and research for which Georgia Tech is so well known. As we recover and move forward, please know that we are committed to not only your career success but to your well-being.
Chaouki Abdallah, EVP for Research
Kelly Fox, EVP for Administration and Finance
Steve McLaughlin, Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs
- March 24, 2021 — Vaccine Eligibility Expansion and Scheduling
To the Georgia Tech Community,
Today, Georgia Tech received additional doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which manages the statewide allocation of vaccines. This follows yesterday’s announcement from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp that the state would expand the criteria for vaccine eligibility beginning Thursday, March 25, to include all adults ages 16 and older. This expansion effectively covers 100% of the Georgia Tech community.
Based on current vaccine availability, we have opened new vaccination appointment slots on mytest.gatech.edu for those who are eligible to receive the vaccine. We will accept appointments until all slots are taken. Georgia Tech is only administering the vaccine to active members of the campus community: students, staff, faculty, and affiliates.
As we work toward accommodating our community under this broad eligibility expansion, please note the following:
- We will continue to open appointments as additional vaccine becomes available. If you would like to receive a notification when new appointments are available, you may subscribe to receive updates at mytest.status.gatech.edu.
- Those who received their first dose at Georgia Tech will receive a direct communication from Stamps Health Services with instructions for scheduling your second appointment. We will reserve slots at mytest.gatech.edu for second dose vaccinations. To ensure you receive your second dose at Georgia Tech, you must act promptly once you receive notification about scheduling your second dose. Unclaimed appointment slots will be opened to all who are eligible.
- Individuals who received their first vaccine dose at a location other than Georgia Tech should submit a ticket to c.gatech.edu/vaccine-help to notify the vaccine team that you want to receive your second dose at Tech.
The demand for vaccines remains high and we will continue to work with the DPH to procure additional supplies. Our vaccine dashboard shows how many doses have been administered and received, as well as the number of unique individuals vaccinated at Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech is committed to working to ensure that everyone in our community who is eligible for a vaccine has the opportunity to receive it. In addition to the Georgia Tech vaccination clinic, the DPH provides a list of alternative Covid-19 vaccination sites.
If you have questions, please review health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/vaccine.
- March 15 — Update on Scheduling Vaccination Appointments
To the Georgia Tech Community,
Georgia Tech has begun to schedule Covid-19 vaccination appointments for those ages 55 and older, those with physical disabilities, and those ages 16 and older with underlying medical conditions that make them susceptible to severe illness. In addition to the newly eligible, we also continue to schedule vaccinations for those who are due for their second dose.
There has been a strong response from the community. To meet this additional demand, we are scaling up our operations and working with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which manages the allocation of vaccines, to procure a larger supply.
Earlier today, Georgia Tech received an additional shipment of vaccine, which will enable us to offer an additional 900 appointments between March 16-22. If you are eligible, visit mytest.gatech.edu beginning today at 6:30 p.m. to schedule your vaccination appointment. We will accept vaccination appointments until all slots are taken. Our vaccine dashboard shows how many doses have been administered and received as well as the number of unique individuals vaccinated at Georgia Tech.
We will add more appointments in the coming days as we receive further shipments of vaccine. We appreciate your patience as we distribute our existing supply within this large group of newly eligible individuals. In addition to the Georgia Tech vaccination clinic, the DPH provides a list of alternative Covid-19 vaccination sites.
These are exciting times and we know that many of you are anxious to receive a vaccine. Georgia Tech is committed to working to ensure that everyone in our community who is eligible for a vaccine has the opportunity to receive it.
Georgia Tech community members are expected to register for vaccination appointments only if they meet eligibility requirements. Acting ethically is one of Georgia Tech’s core values, and we expect our community to demonstrate that value during this process.
- March 12 — Scheduling Vaccination Appointments
- To the Georgia Tech Community,
Yesterday, we shared information about the state’s expansion of Covid-19 vaccine eligibility. Beginning Monday, March 15, vaccines will be available to those ages 55 and older, those with physical disabilities, and those ages 16 and older with underlying medical conditions that make them susceptible to severe illness. The criteria for all eligible groups are available at dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine.For Georgia Tech, this expansion of eligibility means a substantial percentage of our population is now able to receive the vaccine. This is very good news, and we are working to scale up our operations to meet demand. We currently have vaccine doses to begin vaccinating the newly eligible groups, and we have ordered additional vaccine doses to accommodate additional demand. We ask for your patience as we work to distribute among this large group.Registration for all new vaccination appointments will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 15, at mytest.gatech.edu and will be based on eligibility as outlined in the state guidelines.Georgia Tech community members are expected to register for vaccination appointments only if they meet eligibility requirements. Acting ethically is one of Georgia Tech’s core values, and we expect our community to demonstrate that value during this process.
We are committed to working to ensure that everyone in our community who is eligible for a vaccine has the opportunity to receive it. If you have questions, please review Covid-19 Vaccine FAQs first. For the most current information on Covid-19 vaccines at Georgia Tech, visit health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/vaccine.
Beginning next week, we will post a dashboard to share how many doses have been administered and how many are available at any given time.
- March 9 — Coming Together Again Next Fall
Dear Georgia Tech Faculty, Staff, and Students:
By now you may have seen President Cabrera’s message to the campus about our plans to return to fully on-campus learning for Fall 2021.
We are very grateful to our Fall 2021 Planning Team of faculty, staff, and students who recently submitted a recommended fall plan to senior leadership that reflects broad community input. Based on guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health, we intend to resume a “normal” fall schedule. In other words, the Fall 2021 plan is designed to be very similar to Fall 2019. Instructional delivery will include increased residential courses, very limited fully remote offerings, many of which were already underway before the pandemic, and the leveraging of technology-enhanced learning that takes advantage of the innovations developed before and during the pandemic.
For reference, summer semester will run similarly to spring. Campus events and programs will continue to follow all health and safety guidelines. Both summer and fall schedules will be published on March 17, and phase 1 registration (for both fall and summer) will take place from March 29 to May 21. For more information about courses, terms, deadlines, and programs, and to submit questions, visit summer.gatech.edu. If you have questions or comments about our fall plans, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are very proud of the entire Tech community over the past year in adapting teaching, research, student services, student life, and campus operations to continue serving our community while working to ensure safety during the pandemic. As expected and in spite of our best efforts, there have been many sacrifices. Some students don’t have access to reliable internet and face many personal challenges. Learning has been difficult for a variety of reasons. Lack of in-person interaction can affect student success and engagement, as well as well-being. Georgia Tech students and alumni cherish their in-person experience while at Tech, something that was especially disappointing for our first-year students, transfers, and new graduate students this academic year.
We are planning to return to normal occupancy of residence halls, classrooms, labs, and other facilities with more on-campus services and resources for students, all within safety protocols. We have working groups for every aspect of our return and are coordinating plans, being mindful of upcoming deadlines, details that need to be worked out, and needed flexibilities. We will continue to share updates as they are available.
Over the past year, our comprehensive approach to the coronavirus pandemic has allowed us to continue to offer a quality education while focusing on the safety of our entire community. Through an asymptomatic surveillance testing program developed by the people of Georgia Tech, masking, social distancing, and special cleaning protocols we have been able to contain Covid-19 cases within our community and offer an environment where we believe we had no known virus spread in the classroom. We are encouraged by the increasing availability of Covid-19 vaccines and distribution on campus, and believe most faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to get a vaccine before fall semester begins.
We have come a long way since a year ago this month, when we converted all of our classes, programs, and services throughout the Institute to remote delivery over a two-week period. Through the incredible creativity and commitment of faculty, staff, and students we were able to design and implement innovative solutions as we powered through this pandemic. It is not over, but we have reason for optimism and hope as we work toward recreating the living/learning experience for which Georgia Tech is so well known.
Steve McLaughlin, Provost
- March 5, 2021 — Survey Regarding Expanded Vaccine Eligibility
To the Georgia Tech Community,Based on last week’s announcement from Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Tech is preparing to expand Covid-19 vaccine eligibility for our community members beginning Monday, March 8.On that date, the following new groups will be eligible:
Georgia Tech is committed to working to ensure that everyone in our community who is eligible for a vaccine has the opportunity to receive it.To help identify individuals in our community who meet the new criteria, we have created a short survey that we are asking everyone to complete.
- Educators and staff for Pre-K, K-12, Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) licensed or exempt childcare programs.
- Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers.
- An intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 22.
- A developmental disability is a physical or mental impairment that happens before the age of 22, is expected to last a lifetime, and affects at least three activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.
- Parents of children with complex medical conditions who are at high risk for Covid-19 complications.
- Malignancies requiring active treatment
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including organ transplant (bone marrow or solid organ) within two years
- Critical congenital heart disease
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Sickle cell disease
- Obesity (BMI >95%)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Significant neurologic injury or condition (e.g. hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, traumatic brain injury, congenital anomaly, acute flaccid myelitis) with functional/developmental impairment (e.g. cerebral palsy, developmental disability, prematurity, mitochondrial disease)
- Technology dependence (e.g. BiPAP, trach)
Information gathered will be used to enable eligible individuals to schedule an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccination. Appointments for newly eligible individuals will be available starting next week.
- March 1, 2021 — Looking Ahead to Fall 2021
- Members of the Georgia Tech Community:
I would like to share with you our plans to return to campus with full operations and a complete residential experience for our students this fall. This year hasn’t been easy on any count, but thanks to the dedication, ingenuity, compassion, and commitment of every member of our community, we were able to deliver a successful semester this past fall, and we are well on our way to doing the same this spring.
As Covid-19 vaccines continue to roll out to members of our community over the coming months, fewer public health restrictions will likely be needed for universities and workplaces, and we anticipate, by the beginning of the fall semester, being able to once again have full dorms and classrooms, fully productive labs, and the rich campus experiences that students have come to expect of us.
Like we have done in the past 12 months, we will continue to observe public health guidance from the University System of Georgia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Georgia Department of Public Health, and we will leverage the unique scientific knowledge of our faculty and the expertise of our staff to make sure everyone is safe while we deliver on our important mission.
For the time being, it is critical that we continue to test, mask, distance, and socialize outdoors. Georgia Tech’s comprehensive approach is working. Evidence from the fall semester indicates the virus did not spread in classrooms or labs, and that workplace transmission was very limited. These encouraging trends have held through the spring. We continue to sustain a positivity rate below 1% in our surveillance tests, and we have not detected any transmission in classrooms or other academic environments.
Our vaccine rollout also continues, and, as an official state distribution point, we will release information about the timing of future phases so more members of this community can be vaccinated. The new vaccines have demonstrated to be safe and extraordinarily effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. And there’s growing evidence that they may reduce transmission of the disease to others too. I am planning to take whatever vaccine is offered to me, and I encourage you to do the same.
This past year has tested us in countless ways. But this community has stepped up time and time again and has showed its eagerness to solve problems and find a path forward. I’m incredibly grateful to all of you — students, faculty, and staff, but also alumni and friends who’ve supported us. I know it hasn’t been easy, but the lessons we’ve learned over the past year mean that we know more than ever about what we’re up against and how we can safely push forward. Innovation, collaboration, reliance on science, care for one another, transparent communications, and a focus on well-being have been our most effective weapons and will continue to be critical.
As we prepare for a return to full campus operations, please know that we will continue to listen to and engage all constituencies. We want to hear from you. I encourage you to participate in the listening sessions and surveys now open for feedback.
More details will be available in the coming weeks.
Thank you again!
- January 12, 2021 — Covid-19 Vaccine Availability to the Campus Community
To the Georgia Tech Campus Community:
Earlier today, Georgia Tech received its first allotment of Covid-19 vaccine: 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and 200 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Campus medical professionals will begin administering vaccinations to campus community members in Phase 1A+ immediately.
As we shared last week, Georgia Tech is working in coordination with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which oversees the planning and distribution of vaccines. A cross-functional working group of staff and faculty has been established to plan the administration of vaccines for our campus.
This group is currently focusing its efforts on rapid distribution of vaccines under Phase 1A+ and working on plans to ramp up for additional phases, which will include faculty, staff, and students according to guidance from the DPH.
Currently, we are in the initial phase of vaccine distribution. This includes:
- Stamps Health Services staff
- CARE staff and Counseling Center staff
- Health Initiatives victim advocates and nutritionists
- GTPD staff
- Covid-19 surveillance testing personnel
- Athletic Association medical staff and trainers
- Those who are 65 years of age or older
Notifications on how and when to register for a vaccine appointment will be sent directly to members of these groups. Additional groups will be notified of their eligibility upon completion of the previous phase.
We thank you for your patience. This is an evolving process, and we will continue to keep the Georgia Tech community updated as additional information becomes available. In the meantime, please continue to test, mask, and distance. Handwashing is important too!
View frequently asked questions about the Covid-19 vaccine. For more information on the coronavirus, please visit the Tech Moving Forward website.
- January 8, 2021 - Faculty and Staff: Looking Ahead to Spring Semester
To Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff,The start of the spring semester is right around the corner, and we want to take this moment to talk about what each of us can do to be as safe as possible, both on and off campus.If you are returning to campus, it is important for you to participate in asymptomatic surveillance testing on campus. You should get tested as soon as possible once you arrive, and then again within 3-5 days. Georgia Tech will be increasing the number and hours of testing sites this semester, so be sure to get back into the routine of testing weekly. In addition, please complete the daily self-checklist before coming to campus each day.Along with testing, we encourage you to continue the other practices that help slow the spread of the coronavirus: wear a face covering, maintain social distance and avoid gatherings, and wash your hands. Stick to it. Make these healthy practices a part of your regular routine.As we announced earlier this week, Georgia Tech will soon be serving as a vaccine distribution point for students, faculty, and staff. While we wait for the phases of vaccinations to be carried out on campus, the very best thing we can do is what we’ve been doing all along during this long, difficult public health crisis: Test. Mask. Distance. It works.We know how tough this has been. We are grateful to you for your resilience, your strength, and your ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The spring — and beyond — holds great promise. There is reason to look forward to a day when the pandemic will end. Until then, let’s keep doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our fellow Jackets.
- January 7, 2021 - Vaccine Availability
With a new year ahead of us, many are anxious to learn about the availability of a coronavirus vaccine for the Georgia Tech community.
Georgia Tech has agreed to be a vaccine distribution point for our campus community of faculty, staff, and students and is awaiting the arrival of an initial batch of vaccines under Phase 1A, which prioritizes vaccinations for healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and (as of December 30) adults ages 65 and older.
We are working actively with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which oversees the planning and distribution of vaccines.
A cross-functional working group of staff and faculty has been established to plan the administration of vaccines for our campus. We are currently prepared to rapidly distribute any vaccines we receive under Phase 1A and working on plans to ramp up for additional phases, which would include faculty, staff, and students based on guidance from the DPH.
The promise of a vaccine in early 2021 is exciting, and we will keep the Georgia Tech community updated as soon as next steps become clearer. In the meantime, please continue to test, mask, and distance. Handwashing is important too! You are also encouraged to get your seasonal flu shot if you haven’t done so. Information on flu shots may be found at health.gatech.edu/additional/flu.
For more information on the coronavirus visit the Tech Moving Forward website, health.gatech.edu/tech-moving-forward.