COVID-19 guidance and information for on-site employees
Information for employees during COVID-19
Note the following update: As of Friday, October 2, face coverings must be worn at all times on campus, indoors and outdoors, per the City of Cambridgeís Third Amended Temporary Emergency Order.
Guidance and information for MIT On-Campus Employees
How do I know if I should come back to campus?
What steps should I take if Iím returning to campus?
Can I get a COVID-19 test at MIT?
Will I have unlimited access to campus buildings when I return?
I donít want to take public transportation to campus, but I donít have an MIT parking account. Can I park on campus?
What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) do I need to wear on campus? When should I wear it?
How should I safely remove and dispose of gloves and other PPE?
What else can I do at work to stay safe?
What are the cleaning protocols for spaces on campus?
What else is MIT doing to protect staff from exposure to COVID-19?
Are campus dining services available?
Where should I eat lunch?
What is the current risk on campus?
How is the disease transmitted?
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
What should I do if I think Iíve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19?
If Iím not returning to campus, should I get tested?
How will MIT take care of me and my family?
How is MIT Dining limiting the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in foodservice facilities?
Guidance and information for MIT On-Campus Employees
Ask your supervisor. Your supervisor will inform you if you are designated to return to work on campus; otherwise, you should continue to work remotely.
After informing you that you are designated to return to work on campus, your supervisor will arrange to have your name entered into MITís COVID Access system, and you will receive an email with details about how to begin using the MIT COVID Pass application. The application will walk you through the steps you need to take.
- The COVID Pass app enables you to complete several ďback to campusĒ forms and training as well as the daily health attestation that is required for gaining single-day (25-hour) access to campus buildings you are approved to enter.
- Everyone returning to campus is required to be tested for COVID-19 before returning. See details below.
- More information about the COVID Pass app and the process of returning to campus is available in MITís FAQ about returning to work on campus.
Yes. Everyone returning to campus and using campus facilities is required to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work, and tests are available for MIT employees on campus.
- Walk-in COVID testing is available at MIT Medical, MondayĖFriday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, for asymptomatic individuals who will be returning to work on campus.
- If you have symptoms, call MIT Medicalís COVID-19 hotline at 617-253-4865 to speak with a clinician and get advice about next steps.
- See MIT Medicalís COVID testing FAQ and MITís FAQ about returning to work on campus for more information about testing at MIT.
No. Your supervisor will determine which buildings you are approved to enter. In addition, MIT has divided the campus into building clusters and has established a limited number of building access points for each cluster.
- Your ID will be activated through the COVID Pass app to provide you with access to only the building cluster(s) that contain the building(s) you are approved to access.
- You can access your building cluster through any access points for that cluster. View a map of the building clusters.
- More details and information about building access can be found in MITís FAQ about returning to work on campus.
I donít want to take public transportation to work, but I donít have an MIT parking account. Can I park on campus?
Yes, as long as you have an MIT ID card. Through the end of 2020, most MIT parking facilities on the Cambridge campus are free of charge and available to all MIT ID cardholders. See the Facilities parking pages for more information.
You need to wear a face covering at all times, indoors and outdoors, on campus. In accordance with an amended Temporary Emergency Order issued by the City of Cambridge on September 25, 2020, individuals must wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public areas, businesses, and common areas inside buildings. This amended order is effective as of Friday, October 2, 2020.
- Face coverings must be worn in all outdoor areas accessible to the public, including sidewalks, streets, parks, playgrounds, plazas, bus stops, parking lots and garages, and between campus buildings.
- Face coverings may be temporarily removed outside while you are eating or drinking if you are seated in an outdoor seating area and are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people at all times.
- When you are indoors, wear your face covering in all public places, such as lobbies, hallways, elevators, stairwells, shared offices, and restrooms.
- You can temporarily remove your face covering if you are working alone in a private office or personal space with a closed door or while seated if you are eating or drinking indoors.
- More information is available in the MIT PPE Policy Statement.
Staff members who do not have a face covering may obtain one in Lobby 7 at 77 Massachusetts Avenue upon presentation of an MIT ID. Washable face coverings previously supplied to our Campus Services, EHS, and R&M teams working on campus meet this requirement. Training is being offered to refresh staff on topics including safe use and removal of PPE. Please ask your manager if you would like updated training.
Note that gloves, masks, eye protection, and other PPE are required to be worn for various activities conducted by some of our Facilities, housekeeping, and emergency repair teams. If you are required to wear these items for your work activities, please continue to do so. For example, custodial staff who routinely wear gloves should continue to use them.
The following guidance comes from MIT Medical, based on the latest CDC best practices in the current COVID-19 environment. MIT Medical will continue to monitor CDC recommendations as conditions evolve.
For staff who do not usually wear PPE in the course of their work, the following guidance is specific to the current COVID-19 environment:
- Masks will be provided to staff entering the rooms of any students who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Wear disposable gloves if you are handling materials ó like laundry or bedding ó that may have been used by someone who is ill. Remember that gloves don't provide protection if you touch your face or other surfaces while using them. Any time you use disposable gloves, wash your hands thoroughly after removing them. Regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is the most practical and effective way to stay healthy.
- Please note that a third-party cleaning service will clean the rooms of any students who have tested positive for COVID-19, but who do not require hospitalization.
View this 17-second video demonstration of safe glove removal (prepared by MIT EHS). Do not place single-use gloves, face masks, or other PPE in recycling bins. PPE should be disposed of in the trash or according to the method required by your office.
MIT Medical recommends these best practices for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19:Wash your hands often. Wear a face covering at all times when you are around other people. Wipe down surfaces with disinfectants, especially high-touch surfaces. Limit your exposure to others as much as you can. And if you have to interact with others face-to-face, stay six feet away from them whenever possible. Lastly, if you start to feel sick, stay home!
All common areas are cleaned and disinfected once a day, Monday through Saturday, and all high-touch surfaces (handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, etc.) in all common areas in all buildings (main corridors, main lobbies, elevators, restrooms) receive an additional cleaning each day (Monday through Friday).
- Custodial staff have received enhanced training in cleaning and disinfecting and have switched to a CDC-approved disinfecting cleaning solution.
- Custodial staff will empty trash and vacuum in your personal office or cubicle, but they will not touch your desk, chair, work surfaces, keyboards, monitors, etc. Whenever possible, you should wipe down high-touch surfaces in your personal workspace. Check with your DLCís administrative officer about availability of cleaning supplies in your area.
- Additional details about cleaning protocols for specific locations, including elevators, restrooms, and conference rooms, are available at MITís FAQ on returning to work on campus.
For Custodial Services and Dining Staff
MIT Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) has made refresher training available on standard operating procedures for all critical staff, including facilities, dining, and custodial staff.
Housing & Residential Services (HRS) and Facilities Custodial Services are taking proactive steps to reduce exposure within each of MITís residential and academic communities. These efforts include:
- Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in common areas and shuttles. Custodial staff have received enhanced training in cleaning and disinfecting touch-points — including handrails, elevator buttons, and door handles —and have switched to a disinfecting cleaning solution as they increase the frequency of cleaning touch-points.
- If an individual with a known or suspected case of COVID-19 has spent time in a space, an outside vendor is brought in to thoroughly clean the area so that the space can be used again without a long interruption.
You can eat lunch outdoors, in your personal work space, and possibly in your DLCís kitchen or break room. Check with your areaís leadership to determine what the policy is for inside your building or lab.
Eating together with coworkers should be avoided.
If your DLC allows eating in the kitchen or break room, be sure to follow the protocols your DLC has established. Recommendations for eating in a kitchen or break room can be found in MITís FAQ for returning to work on campus.
The risk on campus is no greater than the risk elsewhere in the greater Boston area ó and given the reduced number of people on campus, the risk here is probably lower than in many other places in the area. That said, there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 throughout the local area. Everyone should maintain proper hand hygiene, wipe down surfaces, and practice social distancing whenever possible.
The virus is transmitted primarily through respiratory secretions. The major risk for transmission occurs during close person-to-person contact with an infected individual. While traces of the virus can survive on some surfaces for long periods of time, much of the virus dies relatively quickly when it ends up on a surface outside the human body. On plastic, for example, half of the virus molecules will be dead after six hours. Half of whatís left will die in the next six hours. And another half of that will die in the next six hours. On cardboard, half of any virus will die in under four hours. In the air, the virus disperses quickly, so if you are not very close to a person who is infected, you are unlikely to become infected from any airborne virus.
MIT Medical has published a blog entry on this topic, which includes guidance on how to protect yourself. In short, the risk of picking up COVID-19 from something like a cardboard delivery box is relatively low. The most likely form of transmission is an interaction with a sick person. That’s why social distancing is the number one weapon we have against the spread of this virus.
COVID-19 is very much like the flu. Symptoms include a dry cough and fever. We recommend you visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information.
We encourage you to read this page and follow the steps and directions on this flow chart:
It should answer most questions. You may also want to call your healthcare provider directly and get advice for your situation. As MIT Medical explains in the flowchart, you may be asked to self-monitor, self-quarantine, or visit your healthcare provider to be evaluated.
MIT is prepared to house on-campus critical staff who may need a place to self-isolate during the fall 2020 semester. For critical staff who test positive and are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but who don't want to isolate at home ó to limit exposing their family, or because they don't have a place to self-isolate ó we will offer on-campus housing. (Please note that if you require medical care, you will need to go to the hospital.)
You should consult with your healthcare provider regarding any need for testing. MIT Medical has specific guidelines about who can be tested, given the limited number of testing supplies available nationwide. Also keep in mind that every case is unique: Some patients might not be tested, even if they have symptoms, and some patients who have symptoms but are expected to make a full recovery may be asked to self-quarantine even without being tested and receiving a positive diagnosis.
If you have symptoms, you should contact your care provider. If your care provider is MIT Medical, call their COVID-19 hotline at 617-253-4865 to talk with a clinician who can give you advice about what to do next.
Food service workers are following enhanced hygiene, sanitation, and cleaning protocols throughout serveries and kitchen operations to reduce possible exposure and cross-contamination. Additional steps include:
- Limiting the number of customers in food-serving areas;
- Extending meal periods, posting educational signage, and marking floors for social distancing awareness;
- Eliminating self-serve stations — all food is served and/or pre-wrapped;
- Discontinuing dine-in service —all food is for carry-out only;
- Using only disposable to-go containers and utensils;
- Implementing hands-free tap access so staff don't need to touch ID cards;
- Supporting social distancing in TechMart by permitting only two people in the store at a time;
- Limiting residents on the bridge meal plan to obtaining meals in their residence only;
- Providing meals for student residents and critical staff in Maseeh Hall, which has better control points and higher food capacity; and
- Catering meals for MIT Police at their headquarters (W89).
Advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
Watch for symptoms
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).
- Shortness of breath
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Other high-risk conditions could include:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
- People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
Visit the MIT COVID-19 site for information on testing.
Should I get a COVID-19 test?
If you are returning to work on campus, you are required to get tested for COVID-19. If you are not returning to work on campus, you should consult with your healthcare provider regarding any need for testing. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.
- Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
- Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about how much contact you have with other people.
- If you have symptoms, you should contact your care provider. If your care provider is MIT Medical, call their COVID-19 hotline at 617-253-4865 to talk with a clinician who can give you advice about what to do next.
What to do after you are tested
- If you test positive for COVID-19, do not come to work. See If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected. However, it is possible that you could test positive later. It is important to practice good hygiene (hand washing, physical distancing) and monitor your health.
CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus. You should continue to practice all the protective measures recommended to keep yourself and others free from illness. See How to Protect Yourself.
Additional information: U.S. Food and Drug Administration FAQs on Diagnostic Testing for SARS-CoV-2external icon.
If you are very sick get medical attention immediately.
Knowing and sharing Facts can help stop stigma
Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma (1) toward people, places, or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.
It is important to remember that people – including those of Asian descent – who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.
Some groups of people who may be experiencing stigma because of COVID-19 include:
- Persons of Asian descent
- People who have traveled
- Emergency responders or healthcare professionals
Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards other people.
Stigmatized groups may be subjected to:
- Social avoidance or rejection
- Denials of healthcare, education, housing or employment
- Physical violence.
Stigma affects the emotional or mental health (2) of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in. Stopping stigma is important to making communities and community members resilient (3). See resources on mental health and coping during COVID-19.
Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in your community.
Communicators and public health officials can help counter stigma during the COVID-19 response.
- Maintain privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of any contact investigation.
- Quickly communicate the risk or lack of risk from associations with products, people, and places.
- Raise awareness about COVID-19 without increasing fear.
- Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.
- Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
- Be cautious about the images that are shared. Make sure they do not reinforce stereotypes.
- Engage with stigmatized groups in person and through media channels including news media and social media.
- Thank healthcare workers and responders. People who have traveled to areas where the COVID-19 outbreak is happening to help have performed a valuable service to everyone by helping make sure this disease does not spread further.
- Share the need for social support for people who have returned from China or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region.
- (1) Stigma occurs when people associate a risk with a specific people, place, or thing – like a minority population group – and there is no evidence that the risk is greater in that group than in the general population. Stigmatization is especially common in disease outbreaks.
- (2) Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of well being in which a person realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
- (3) Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from stress.
The MIT Work-Life Center has compiled a list of resources and information to support MIT employees and their loved ones during these challenging and uncertain times. View resources for caring for loved ones, employees and yourself.
This information has been provided by MIT Medical, Facilities, Custodial Services, Housing & Residential Services, Human Resources, and compiled by MIT Emergency Management.