September 17, 2021

What Happens When an Employee Tests Positive for COVID?

The university typically becomes aware of a COVID-positive employee either from positive results of a voluntary on-campus test or a self-report from the employee. We realize it can be unnerving to receive a COVID diagnosis and employee outreach is conducted promptly and with concern for the employee’s overall wellbeing. The notification of an employee with COVID puts in motion the process described below.

  • Counsel: The employee is informed that they must not come to campus for a specific period of time, typically 10-14 days depending on various factors, and they are put in touch with Human Resources to discuss available resources and leave options.
  • Contact Tracing: In addition to the contact tracing conducted by the Virginia Department of Health, UMW conducts its own internal contact tracing as described below.  A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period within two days before symptoms appeared or two days before a positive test. With the MMDC protocols in place, an employee should have few, if any, close contacts at work. Physical barriers in the workspace, such as plexiglass are also a mitigating factor when determining close contact.

o   The employee is contacted by one of three designated UMW employees, all of whom have received training in the contact tracing process and ensure appropriate confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

o   Individuals who the employee identifies as an on-campus close contact are notified and must quarantine for 14 days. These employees are informed that they’ve been identified as a close contact, but are not given the name of the employee who tested positive.

  • Communication:  The UMW community is kept informed of aggregated positive cases via the COVID-19 Dashboard. The University has a responsibility to protect its employees’ privacy. It does not inform other members of the university community of specific positive cases unless contact tracing efforts indicate that they are a close contact, which should rarely happen if employees are following MMDC protocols.
  • Cleaning: The cleaning supplies used by Facilities, and those provided to each department, have been approved for use against the coronavirus. The Building Attendants follow a regular daily cleaning schedule, and the protocols currently in place for individual cleaning should continue to be followed.  It is no longer a recommended practice to close office buildings for specialized, third party cleaning when an employee tests positive.
  • Compliance: Health and safety are a community effort. Employees who are not following MMDC protocols should be gently reminded about the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and eating with others. If a gentle reminder does not elicit an appropriate response, employees should inform their supervisor or submit their concern through the Report a COVID Concern link on the UMW COVID-19 website.

Beth Williams
Executive Director for Human Resources
University of Mary Washington
540 654-1294
bwilli22@umw.edu

When the Pandemic Struck, UMW Persevered

UMW sophomore Andrew Newman poses on a Campus Walk bench. The University community pulled together this fall to follow MMDC (monitor, mask, distance and clean) guidelines and minimize the number of COVID-19 cases on campus. Increased pandemic-related measures will be employed this spring.

UMW sophomore Andrew Newman poses on a Campus Walk bench. The University community pulled together this fall to follow MMDC (monitor, mask, distance and clean) guidelines and minimize the number of COVID-19 cases on campus. Increased pandemic-related measures will be employed this spring.

Eager to begin her college career at Mary Washington, Sarah Bazemore moved into Willard Hall in September, stocking her room with masks and sanitizer.

Little did she know that she would end her first semester living in Marshall Hall under quarantine. Bazemore and two of her friends were among several dozen students who were either exposed to or came down with COVID-19 in fall 2020.

Even so, she rated the entire semester an A+. “I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be on campus this fall, and I’m beyond impressed with the way UMW handled COVID-19,” she said. “Even when we entered quarantine, there was a plan. At no time was I unable to get the support I needed or an answer to my questions.”

Only 40 students utilized the more than 100 designated quarantine/isolation rooms on campus. That, added Bazemore, “says a lot about the student body and our administration. We followed MMDC (monitor, mask, distance and clean) and did all we could to keep COVID-19 away from UMW.”

Plenty of planning and extreme vigilance paid off. While the pandemic rages across the globe, the University ended up with fewer than 50 COVID cases since the end of August.

“I’m filled with pride by the way the Mary Washington community has thus far risen to this challenge,” said President Troy Paino. “We have proven something to ourselves: We can adapt, innovate and persevere.” Read more.

Returning Students Bring UMW’s Fall Semester to Life

UMW’s four-day move-in event looked both like and unlike years past, with campus arrivals wearing masks and following guidelines set forth in a comprehensive Return to Campus Plan. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

UMW’s four-day move-in event looked both like and unlike years past, with campus arrivals wearing masks and following guidelines set forth in a comprehensive Return to Campus Plan. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

After three weeks of fully remote learning, University of Mary Washington students began moving into residence halls – and bringing the fall semester to life – last week.

Under the clouds of overcast skies and a global pandemic, UMW’s delayed four-day “move-in” played out much like – and unlike – it has in years past. More than 1,700 undergraduates and their family members, wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, toted boxes and bins, posters and pillows, fridges and food, into their new homes on campus.

“This semester might look a little different, but it will be a great one if we all work together and MMDC!” UMW President Troy Paino tweeted Wednesday, on the eve of first-year students’ Thursday arrival. He was unable to step into residence hall rooms and help erect lofts, as he has done in the past, but he greeted cars on Double Drive and roamed the campus checking in on families.

Signs across campus serve as reminders to “MMDC”—monitor, mask, distance and clean – and socialize responsibly, limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people, as part of UMW’s comprehensive Return to Campus Plan.

In-person and hybrid classes will run through Nov. 20, with all courses returning to a remote format after Thanksgiving break as the semester winds down. Read more.