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Message from the Chancellor: COVID-19 Update

By Jacquie Moloney

UMass Lowell is now aware of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) among members of the university community. None of these individuals live on campus and we do not believe any individual was experiencing symptoms while on campus. With testing increasing and the spread of the disease continuing, it is likely that more of us will know someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the days ahead.
This is a deeply unsettling time for all of us, but it is important to know and use the fact-based guidance of the Centers for Disease Control to make the best choices and decisions to keep ourselves and our community safe.
Local boards of health, in communication with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, are leading the response to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and are directly contacting identified close contacts. UMass Lowell will only become aware of cases if employees or students decide to share that with the university.
Let me walk you through what happens if you, or someone you know, tests positive for COVID-19.
  1. The person testing positive will be told to self-isolate and will be interviewed by an official from the local board of health.
  2. This interview is to identify and determine potential close contacts of the person testing positive so officials can reach out to those individuals as indicated by established protocols.
  3. The CDC defines close contact as:
    • Living in the same household with someone
    • Directly caring for someone
    • Being within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes
    • Kissing, coughing or sharing utensils
  4. Identified close contacts of the person testing positive will be contacted by the local board of health and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days to see if the close contact develops symptoms. If you are told to self-quarantine, be sure to notify your supervisor. You may be able to continue working remotely during this time. 
  5. If you are not contacted by a local board of health official, you are not deemed a close contact and the board of health considers you a low risk for contracting the disease in this instance.
Human Resources has provided guidance for managers and employees for how to manage work, including working remotely and accounting for absences as appropriate. 
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, cough and shortness of breath — contact your primary care physician. 
The best defenses to avoid the spread of any illness remain unchanged. Remember: 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Remain at home until you are fever free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medications. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Standard cleaning and disinfectant products are effective. 
Visit the CDC website or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for more information. If you have questions, please consider reaching out to the Wellness Center at Our staff can discuss the most up-to-date information and provide guidance on the state’s public health response process.
This is a difficult time and many of us will be impacted in days ahead. Find support in your family, friends and colleagues, even if many of these communications now must be done remotely. Please reach out to your supervisor or to human resources if the university can assist you during this time.
And please know that my thoughts are with all of you.