Covid-19 Institute Operations Updates
June 30, 2022 — Covid-19 Operations Update
Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia are committed to the safety of our community and mitigating the spread and harmful effects of Covid-19. We continue to recognize that Covid-19 vaccines and boosters offer safe, effective protection and urge all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to get vaccinated and/or boosted either on campus or with a local provider.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Georgia Tech has put health and safety guidance and resources in place, and the Institute will continue to do so based upon community needs. As we prepare for the fall semester, we are shifting some of the practices we have had including asymptomatic testing, self-reporting positive cases, and contact tracing. All updated guidance can be found at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.
Formation of Public Health Committee
Since Spring 2020, Georgia Tech’s Covid-19 Task Force has managed the campus response to the pandemic. Beginning this summer, two new campus committees will take on those responsibilities.
- The Covid-19 Operations Team will continue to manage immediate Covid-19 response as Georgia Tech moves from emergency to standard operations.
- This group will be led by the Office of Emergency Management and include representatives from Administration and Finance, Stamps Health Services, the Covid-19 testing lab, and Institute Communications.
- A newly established Public Health Planning Committee will conduct long-term public health response and planning for Covid-19 and other emerging public health threats.
- This group will include representatives from Stamps Health Services, Health Initiatives, Housing and Residence Life, the Office of the Dean of Students, Infrastructure and Sustainability, Institute Communications, the Covid-19 testing lab, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Staff Council, faculty, and students.
- The work of this group will be a permanent function of Georgia Tech operations.
- This committee will be responsible for establishing, maintaining, and exercising the Institute’s specific public health and medical plans as part of its broader Emergency Operations Plan.
Quarantine and Isolation
- If you test positive for Covid-19, begin to have symptoms of Covid-19, or are not up to date with your Covid-19 vaccinations and are exposed to someone with Covid-19, you must take immediate action for your own health and for the safety of others.
- To help limit the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, visit the Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines page for guidance on isolation and quarantine protocols including duration and masking recommendations.
Navigation of Exposure and Illness
Throughout the pandemic, the Covid-19 exposure and testing decision trees have served as a valuable tool to help guide the campus community through testing, self-reporting, and quarantining or isolating based upon an individual’s vaccination status.
- With the recent changes to campus operations, we are sunsetting these graphics and encourage you to visit the Stamps Health Services website as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the latest guidance.
- Georgia Tech is creating a new automated dashboard to track and report the status of wastewater testing and symptomatic positives from Stamps Health Services.
- The new dashboard, designed to track the overall health of the community, will be implemented in August.
- The existing dashboard that has tracked cases since 2020 will be archived but remains publicly available.
Testing and Contact Tracing
Since its inception in August 2020, Tech’s asymptomatic surveillance testing has processed more than half a million samples from students, staff, and faculty interested in reducing the rate and spread of Covid-19. It is one of our proudest achievements, demonstrating a true campus collaboration — from the faculty who developed the saliva-based test to the community members who helped collect and process the samples.
- As part of our move from a temporary emergency Covid-19 response into an ongoing, sustainable Covid-19 response, Georgia Tech will transition from individual surveillance testing to wastewater surveillance testing to monitor Covid-19 on campus beginning on July 1.
- The purpose of surveillance testing is to look for signals of community spread, and wastewater testing will allow us to preserve this capability going forward.
- Over the past 18 months, Georgia Tech’s Covid-19 testing team has validated the use of wastewater testing for Covid-19 surveillance and has put in place the infrastructure necessary to conduct broad-based wastewater surveillance.
- Georgia Tech’s asymptomatic surveillance testing site at Price Gilbert Library will continue to offer testing until June 30.
- After that date, asymptomatic surveillance testing will no longer be offered.
- Stamps Health Services will continue to offer symptomatic testing to students with Covid-19 symptoms.
- Individuals who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer need to self-report their positive test results. Stamps Health Services will cease contact tracing later this summer.
- As a reminder, Stamps Health Services will continue to offer Covid-19 vaccine and booster clinics. To schedule an appointment, visit mytest.gatech.edu.
- Instructors should demonstrate appropriate flexibility with students who need to isolate or quarantine due to Covid-19 in the same way they would have accommodated ill students before the pandemic.
- Faculty are not required to record lectures or class meetings but may choose to do so.
- The method or approach to providing content and makeup work for the students is at the instructor’s discretion.
- Students who have a recognized disability or qualified medical condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may request any needed accommodations by registering with the Office of Disability Services (ODS).
- Registering with ODS is a three-step process that includes completing an online 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 services coordinator.
The University System of Georgia encourages people to wear masks based on their preference and assessment of personal risk.
Coronavirus Pages on Stamps Website
- In addition to the public health dashboard, we will maintain a coronavirus section of the Stamps Health Services website to make it easy for students, faculty, and staff to find the latest guidance related to Covid-19.
- Looking ahead, we anticipate that there may be additional changes to campus operations due to Covid-19 and will communicate those updates as soon as they are available.
April 22, 2022 – Revised Mask Guidance for Campus Transporation Services
In light of the April 18, 2022, U.S. District Court decision and the subsequent decisions by major transportation providers to no longer require masks on public transit, the University System of Georgia will no longer require use of masks on campus transportation.
January 20, 2022 – Additional Symptomatic Covid-19 Testing Available for Students, Faculty, and Staff
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 12, Georgia Tech will offer a drive-thru, symptomatic Covid-19 diagnostic testing site to address the immediate testing needs for students, faculty, and staff.
Located at the parking deck behind the Engineered Biosystems Building (EBB), the new drive-thru site provides saliva-based test kits that are sent directly to diagnostic testing. While no appointments are required, symptomatic individuals will need to register in mytest.gatech.edu as usual and show their barcode when visiting the site.
Symptomatic Diagnostic Testing Details
- Available to: Any symptomatic Georgia Tech faculty and staff, as well as symptomatic students who are unable to make an appointment at Stamps. Please note that asymptomatic students and employees may continue to test at any campus surveillance site.
- Location: Parking Deck W23, deck located behind EBB, 950 Atlantic Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30332 (Near State St. just south of 10th St.)
- Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Appointments: No appointments needed
- Process: Testers will enter the deck, register, and be able to pull into a parking spot to take the test from the privacy of their vehicle. Testers will then exit the parking deck, leaving their sample and any waste in appropriate bins placed at the exit. Staff will be available in case of any questions during the testing process.
January 6, 2022 – Spring Return to Campus
Welcome back and Happy New Year!
Thank you for all the work in preparing for the return of students to campus as we resume in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 10.
I wish I didn’t have to start my first message of the year like this, but, as you well know, once again we are beginning a semester amid a Covid-19 spike. I realize that, for many, this continues to feel concerning and at times, overwhelming. Over the last few days, we have received many questions from members of our community about our plans for the spring semester and I write to share some perspective about what to expect.
The reality is that it wasn’t easy the last three semesters and it won’t be easy this semester either. But our experience over the past two years has shown that the preparations we’ve made, together with high compliance in wearing masks indoors, a high rate of vaccination, and a community pulling together have made it possible for us to deliver a quality and safe in-person experience to our students, much better than the hybrid mode that dominated early in the pandemic, and much more aligned with the transformative learning for which we are known and that our students expect. Over the past two years we have learned just how important this in-person experience is to the growth of our students, and we have learned to deliver it safely.
The omicron variant is indeed more transmissible than prior variants and it is reasonable to expect a large number of cases in our community over the coming weeks. Fortunately, the vaccines at our disposal have proven very effective at preventing serious illness. And our accumulated experience, a better scientific understanding of the virus, and our own data put us in a robust position to successfully navigate this new phase of the pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), the same precautions that helped us deliver in-person instruction and sustain core student services before (wearing masks indoors, testing regularly, and full vaccination), are effective against the omicron variant as well, both in terms of reducing transmission and preventing severe illness. Our own data show how Covid-19 transmission occurs mostly in social settings, not in classrooms and laboratories. We need to therefore redouble our efforts to ensure that our classrooms continue to remain safe and to encourage students to socialize safely.
Given the increased transmissibility of the omicron variant, we need to be even more diligent in practicing the protective behaviors that have served us well thus far. So, I am personally asking everyone to do the following:
- Commit 100% to wearing a well-fitting mask while in class or other indoor group settings.
- Test immediately when you return to campus and at least weekly thereafter.
- Get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot (reach out to Stamps Health Services or your own health care provider if you still have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine).
- Socialize outdoors whenever possible and find creative ways to de-densify events.
I can’t require you to do these things, but I ask you and I count on you to do your part, just as I know you will ask and count on one another to do the same — for your protection and for the protection of everyone around you.
The Covid-19 Task Force continues to work to enhance health and safety protocols guided by our data and experience. These enhancements include wider availability of masks in classrooms and laboratories (including KN95 masks for instructors and other cases), additional air scrubbers and air quality monitoring, expansion of symptomatic and asymptomatic testing capacity on campus, and new isolation and quarantine protocols in line with recent guidance from the CDC.
Everyone – students, faculty, and staff – should complete the Daily Self-Check protocol. If you have any of the symptoms on the checklist, stay home. Students should reach out to their professors or lab directors, and faculty and staff should work with their supervisors and school chairs to adjust schedules or delivery formats due to illness or exposure. Faculty and staff should also reach out to their supervisors about other Covid-19-related challenges and personal circumstances that might affect their ability to work on campus.
Most important as we continue to navigate this uncertain and challenging time is that we do what we do best as a community: treat one another with empathy, compassion, and respect, and be creative and resourceful to find ways to support one another. One of the things that has given me great pride in our community throughout this pandemic has been our ability to empathize with each other, support each other, and look out for each other’s health and well-being. We must continue to engage in that way, Jackets Protecting Jackets, as we face this latest pandemic challenge together.
January 3, 2022 – Looking Toward Spring Semester
Georgia Tech reopens Tuesday after the holiday break that began on Monday, Dec. 27. As students, faculty, and staff return, there have been questions about how the recent increase in Covid-19 cases nationally and locally will affect campus operations.
The GT Covid-19 Recovery Task Force has been monitoring the state of public health in our community throughout the break. According to public health officials, the increase in Covid-19 cases nationwide has been primarily caused by the omicron variant of Covid-19.
Vaccination, wearing face coverings, and regular surveillance testing have allowed our community to operate safely for the past two years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), these same precautions slow the spread of the omicron variant and significantly reduce severity of illness.
What we know about omicron from the CDC and our own public health experts at Georgia Tech is vaccinated individuals, particularly those who have received booster doses of the vaccine, are much less likely to become seriously ill. In addition, wearing well-fitting face coverings with good filtration, even if you are fully vaccinated, and participating in regular surveillance testing is a strong defense against virus transmission.
Georgia Tech has a world-class, free surveillance testing program on campus and offers campus vaccine clinics. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to get fully vaccinated and get the booster dose as well. To find a vaccination site before campus vaccine clinics resume this month, visit vaccines.gov. We also recommend each person test on campus upon return. Campus testing sites will reopen at full capacity on Jan. 4 to accommodate those returning to campus, or you can find an alternate testing site.
The GT Recovery Task Force has been monitoring air quality in classrooms throughout the pandemic. With the addition of air purifiers in each classroom in August 2021, we have seen very positive results with recent reports showing that the air purifiers significantly reduce particulate matter during class times.
In addition, we encourage everyone to wear well-fitting face coverings while inside campus buildings and to only participate in social activities that encourage safe practices such as masking and good ventilation. We also encourage social events be held outdoors when feasible.
The Georgia Tech community has been very fortunate to maintain a healthy, vibrant academic and campus environment throughout the pandemic by taking these simple precautions and following testing and vaccine protocols. It’s the spirit of Jackets Moving Forward — every member of our community focusing on individual health and safety while also looking out for each other. We are confident that same focus will allow us to continue safe operations in 2022 despite the emergence of the omicron variant.
Public Health Committee
The committee will conduct long-term public health response and planning for Covid-19 and other emerging public health threats.
Resources and where to go for help with campus services or academic and financial issues.
Where employees can go for answers to questions about health, well-being, and campus resources.