Students wearing masks and social distancing while talking outside at new campus

In developing our reopening and operations plans, the UVMStrong committee relies heavily on the expertise of our faculty in public health and medicine. The committee is also working closely with the Vermont Department of Health, Governor Scott’s office, and Mayor Miro Weinberger to ensure compliance with state and local regulations.

Until scientists develop vaccines and widely available treatments to fight COVID-19, our best tools against spreading the virus are testing, personal safety and hygiene practices, and teamwork. In choosing to be together in person to learn, to work, and to play, everyone has a role in protecting themselves, their friends and family, and the UVM and Vermont communities. The Center for Health and Wellbeing’s COVID-19 Information website details the most important ways for you to protect your health and the health of others, as well as details on quarantine measures that help prevent the spread of this virus.

To mitigate the opportunities for coronavirus to flourish in Vermont as schools returned to in-person operations, UVM conducted mandatory pre-arrival testing for all students, with a positive test result requiring home quarantine and a delayed arrival to campus. All students were tested again upon arrival to campus prior to the start of classes on August 31. Students are currently being tested every seven days and will continue to be tested with this frequency through November 1, when our public health and infectious disease experts will make a new recommendation for testing frequency based on the data. This plan is in keeping with rules mandated by the state of Vermont, rules that go beyond the Centers for Disease Control guidance. Our COVID-19 Information and Service Center is the campus nexus for COVID-19 testing and initiatives. UVM's COVID-19 test results are reported weekly.

Beginning August 13, all UVM employees are required to submit an online daily health screening check-in and to remain at home if they report any symptoms related to COVID-19. Many employees whose responsibilities allow them to do so will be working remotely throughout the fall semester.

In keeping with our shared values as a community and the need to work together to keep one another healthy, the UVMStrong Student Experience working group, along with the Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Senate, developed the Green and Gold Promise—a pledge to keep self and others protected from COVID-19. All students signed this pledge after taking a mandatory health and safety training, and UVM employees were asked to sign the pledge as well. Students who are found in violation of the Green and Gold Promise face real consequences. See For Our Vermont Neighbors for more information.

The critical practices that everyone in our UVM community must engage in are described below.

Practices for Personal & Community Health

Start Each Day with a Health Check

Daily Health Screening Tool (and how to use it ) >>

All members of the UVM community must conduct a daily health check by taking their temperature and assessing symptoms prior to arriving on campus or to entering a classroom, dining hall, or participating in any activity on campus. This daily health check is aided by an app being utilized in conjunction with COVID-19 testing.

If you have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or have any of the following symptoms that cannot be attributed to another cause, do not come to campus or circulate on campus. Students living in residence halls, please stay in your room and call Student Health Services at 802/656-3350. Off-campus students, stay at home and call Student Health Services. Staff and faculty, please stay at home, report your symptoms on the symptom tracker, and call your primary care physician. The symptoms are:

  • Fever above 100.4F, or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Practice Physical Distancing

While we may want nothing more now than to gather in warm camaraderie with our friends and colleagues, it’s very important at this time to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people, and not to gather in groups. People can harbor and spread this coronavirus before they know they are sick. That’s why it’s so important to stay a minimum of 6 feet from other people, even if you have no symptoms.

Signs throughout campus will help to remind and reinforce this practice, which is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Please pay attention to signs, partitions and stanchions, and other physical or visual directives that are employed to maintain physical distancing on campus. Keeping space between you and others is one of the best strategies we have to avoid being exposed to COVID-19, and to limiting its spread.

Wear a Face Covering

All UVM community members received a “Return to In-Person” health and safety kit containing COVID-19 supplies, including facial coverings. All employees and students are to wear face coverings when outside their private workspaces or residence hall rooms, and even in these private areas when in the presence of others. Visitors to campus are also required to wear facial coverings.

Wash Your Hands—A lot

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer—at least 60% alcohol strength—if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after touching your face covering or face, when entering common spaces, and while using any shared spaces or tools. Students, faculty, and staff have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Clean Your Workstation

Each morning and throughout the day, wipe down commonly used surfaces in personal and shared spaces: keypads, phones, printers, coffee makers, handles, etc. Custodial has increased the frequency of routine disinfection of high-touch surfaces.

Keep a Contact Journal

All students and employees are encouraged to keep a journal of people with whom they have had close contact each day. This will make it easier to contact trace in the event that precautions need to be taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Testing, Treatment & Response

Health screenings, testing and contact tracing for students and employees will be ongoing through this year.

UVM has partnered with the Broad Institute, one of the most sophisticated and highly regarded facilities of its type in the world, to provide routine COVID-19 testing. The institute’s Clinical Research Sequency Platform SARS-CoV-2 Real-time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Assay is a real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs. The sample collection process is an observed self-administered anterior nasal swab. Samples are packaged daily and shipped overnight to the Broad Institute for analysis, and results are typically returned to the individual within 24 hours. 

Results from COVID-19 testing on campus are helping us to closely monitor our community's public health. There are quarantine and isolation spaces for up to 230 students. We are continuing to develop health and safety risk metrics, and associated response strategies, that can be implemented as the situation changes.