Important Message from UHS about COVID-19 Response

December 3, 2020

The following message is being sent to all graduate students on behalf of UHS.

Dear Graduate Students,

 This fall semester you have done a remarkable job in difficult circumstances – abiding by public health requirements, demonstrating resiliency in the face of changing recommendations and voicing your honest concerns regarding the way this unprecedented public health crisis has changed life at our university.  You have, through your good work in anxious times, maintained an extremely low infection rate within your community. For this, we are very grateful.

 With the news of undergraduates being invited to return for the spring semester, I am sure many of you have questions and concerns.

 I can assure you that we (PU/UHS) are intensely focused on how to bring undergraduate students back safely, and to continue to maintain the lowest possible infection rates within our Princeton “bubble.”  Several groups of people, including University Health Services, the Graduate School, and Environmental Health and Safety are working together to look at all of the administrative and operational requirements to accomplish this task with a minimum of disruption to you, our current campus residents.

 The initial period of student arrival for both undergraduates and newly-arriving graduate students will involve strict protocols; undergraduates will have to signal in writing their commitment to these protocols as part of their Social Contract. Undergraduates will be tested immediately upon arrival, as will first-time or returning graduate students. Strict self-quarantine will be required of all students until the return of their first test result. For those undergrads with negative results, self-quarantine will continue for a required period. Graduate students will be asked to maintain self-quarantine according to each person’s responses to their submitted COVID Risk Assessment Form. We have taken in to account the different circumstances in which graduate and undergraduate students live and socialize, and have created our protocols to match these two populations.

 After initial arrival of new and returning students in January, the implementation of evidence-based public health initiatives will continue in its many forms.  Our success in keeping infection and illness at bay will continue to depend both on each person’s individual commitment, as well as our institution’s commitment to creating the safest possible living and working environments through modification of physical spaces, improvements in ventilation, policies around facial coverings and social distancing, and our comprehensive RT-PCR COVID-19 testing program. It is the accumulation both of small acts by individuals and an infrastructure provided by the University, that together, keep our community safe. For more information on the University’s processes, protocols, and practices, take a look at our newly-redesigned website, covid.princeton.edu.

 Some good news in response to requests put forward by the GSG: We are increasing the testing frequency for all graduate students currently in the asymptomatic testing program from once a week to twice a week. Also, come spring, even the Princeton undergraduates who choose to live locally off-campus and access campus facilities will be required to participate in the asymptomatic testing program. Lastly, in just a few weeks, UHS will have the capacity to test students who present with symptoms consistent with SARS-COVID-19 with PCR technology that produces results in approximately one hour. This rapid turn-around of results for those experiencing symptoms will significantly improve student/patient experience once a student is evaluated at UHS.

 We continue to be committed to improving our communication with graduate students and to engage in dialogue about the public health interventions as well as clinical evaluation and management of symptomatic students.

 Please do not hesitate to reach out to Global and Community Health at communityhealth@princeton.edu for questions around COVID-19, covidtests@princeton.edu  for questions about the asymptomatic testing protocol, and call UHS at (609) 258-3141 for questions and concerns about symptoms of illness, whether related to COVID or not. You may also reach out to me, at melissamarks@princeton.edu, if you have any specific questions or concerns.

 Respectfully,

 Melissa Marks, ’86, MD
Medical Director
Pronouns: She, her, hers
Princeton University
McCosh Health Center

Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544
609.258.4460
609.258.1355