Staying Healthy on Campus and Update on Vaccines (1/29/21)

A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


Reminders of important ways to keep our community as safe as possible, especially as our population increases with the return of students to our campus.

  • The state of the virus and its variants
  • Mask considerations
  • Quarantine and travel requirements
  • Testing information: expanded hours and new location
  • Contact tracing: the importance of participating fully
  • Reminder to complete the Daily Health Check
  • New training for all faculty and staff on campus this semester
  • The importance of observing all health guidelines
  • Latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines; Connecticut still in a limited rollout of Phase 1b

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

This week we welcome undergraduate students and many of our graduate and professional students back to campus, a new phase of a spring semester that brings both excitement and, for some, apprehension. As students travel from many areas of the country and the world, I ask everyone who will be spending time on campus to abide by the practices that helped our campus community work and study together in the fall. These include observing quarantine, adhering to testing schedules, cooperating fully with contact tracing efforts, and doing a daily health check. All of us, regardless of whether we come to campus or not, must remain vigilant about following health guidelines, especially wearing face coverings, following physical distancing protocols, and avoiding gatherings. These measures are particularly critical as COVID-19 infection rates remain high and new variants of the virus emerge. Finally, as vaccine supplies become available, I encourage all of you who are or who become eligible to join your colleagues and friends who have already accepted the invitation to be vaccinated.

Keep track of the state of the virus and its variants

At this time, the rates of COVID-19 infection in the state and in New Haven remain as high as those that led to increased alert levels and restrictions just before students left in November. More specifically, New Haven is currently one of 163 of a total of 169 towns in Connecticut that are at red alert status. It is also important to note that the state, the city, and the university community experienced increases in COVID cases following the December holiday period. It appears that with heightened attention to masking, distancing, and isolation and quarantine restrictions these trends may now be moderating, but the prevalence of infection remains high.

The emergence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus also requires heightened vigilance. Initial observations indicate that these variants are more easily transmitted, but not necessarily more deadly. However, additional studies are underway so that we can better understand the variants’ effects on the severity of illness and the efficacy of vaccines against them. One thing is clear, however: more infections can lead to more cases of severe illness and to more opportunities for viral mutations. It is therefore more critical than ever that we follow all health and safety guidelines.

Wear your mask

In light of the news about the variants, many have asked if their masks provide adequate protection from viral transmission. While varying opinions have circulated in the media, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on masks has not changed. The experts on our Public Health Advisory Committee closely monitor new developments regarding the virus and its variants as well as the effectiveness of preventive measures. In the meantime, CDC officials and our own experts stress that, with regard to face coverings, it is most important that you have an adequate mask, fit it properly, and wear it consistently when you have the potential for contact with individuals outside of your household or suite. These actions are intended not only to protect yourself but to reduce the possibility that you will transmit the virus to others. Additional information about masks is available at the CDC site and in this recent summary from the Washington Post. Yale’s office of Environmental Health and Safety will also update its website as new information becomes available.

Observe travel and arrival quarantine requirements

Undergraduates arriving in the residential colleges this week must observe a phased quarantine, as Dean Melanie Boyd outlined in her January 14 email:

  • First 24-36 hours: Students must stay in their residential suites until they receive a negative COVID-19 result.
  • Until February 15: After receiving a negative arrival test, students may leave their suite as long as they have no symptoms, but must stay in their residential college except for testing, medical reasons, or emergencies.
  • From February 15 until at least March 1: Students may leave their residential colleges but must stay on campus; students should avoid visiting any non-campus buildings or taking walks or runs into New Haven, including its green spaces.

Undergraduates living off-campus must adhere to Yale’s and Connecticut’s travel restrictions, and may not enter campus buildings until February 15 or campus residential spaces until at least March 1.

Graduate and professional students must observe travel quarantine and testing requirements, as Dr. Madeline Wilson and I communicated on December 17.

All faculty and staff must adhere to Yale’s and Connecticut’s travel restrictions.

Get regular asymptomatic testing

Regular testing is an important tool in quickly identifying any cases of COVID-19 in our community and limiting its spread. As in the fall, undergraduates living in residence on or off campus will adhere to a twice-weekly testing schedule. Some graduate and professional students, such as residents of campus dormitories, also have testing requirements; please contact your Health and Safety Leader if you have any questions.

Free voluntary asymptomatic testing remains available to all faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students. Please do not use our asymptomatic test sites if you are feeling ill, even if symptoms are mild. Instead, contact the Campus COVID Resource Line (203-432-6604) to schedule a symptomatic test.

Beginning next week, there will be two changes in our testing program:

  • The Lanman Center testing site (for both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing) will move to Rosenfeld Hall and will be open from 7:00 a.m. to noon.
  • The 150 York Street and 60 Sachem Street sites will have expanded hours of 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The 150 York Street site is now open on Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Watch for further information coming soon from Dr. Madeline Wilson, the director of our testing and tracing program.

Participate fully in contact tracing

Full and candid participation in Yale’s Contact Tracing Program is as important as testing. The Yale Contact Tracing team notifies close contacts of any person who has tested positive and asks them to quarantine for 10 days. Important notes about this process:

  • The patient’s identity is never shared.
  • Any information received in this process will not be used for disciplinary purposes.
  • You will not be notified unless you are a
    • close contact of someone who has tested positive, defined as someone who has been within 6 feet of you for an accumulated 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period or
    • low-risk workplace contact, i.e., spent a work shift or workday in an enclosed shared workspace during the infectious period but did not meet the definition of a close contact.

In addition to cooperating with the Yale Contact Tracing team, community members are encouraged to download the COVID Alert CT app, a secure program that supplements our contact tracers’ efforts to identify and notify close contacts of an individual who has tested positive.

Do your daily health check

All students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus must complete the Daily Health Check. This tool helps you identify any potential symptoms of COVID-19. Most importantly, if you feel sick, stay home. For advice about your symptoms or your ability to return to campus, call your health care provider or the Campus COVID Resource Line (203-432-6604).

Members of the Yale community may now elect to receive Daily Health Check reminder emails to provide quick and convenient access to the tool each day.

Take the updated faculty and staff training

Faculty, staff, and students who plan to be on campus are required to complete updated training. Student training is available on Canvas. Next week, faculty and staff will receive a link to their new online training program. This training must be completed even if you completed training in the summer or fall, as important updates have been included in the new program.

Continue to follow health guidelines

Whether you plan to be on campus or to work or study remotely, you must continue to observe health guidelines, even if you have received the vaccine. Wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distance, washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings, particularly indoors, are crucial measures in limiting the spread of COVID-19, particularly as we begin to see variants circulate that are more highly transmissible.

Updates on the COVID-19 vaccine

At this time, the state has continued its limited rollout of vaccine eligibility in Phase 1b. Individuals 75 years of age and older are currently eligible for vaccination in addition to the health care personnel, long term care residents and staff, and medical first responders who became eligible in Phase 1a. The state anticipates expanding eligibility to individuals between 65 and 74 years of age in the near future.

As I noted in my previous vaccine updates, the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program follows state requirements in issuing invitations for appointments to be vaccinated. If you have been invited and have not yet scheduled your vaccination, call the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604 or go to your My Chart account to schedule.

It has been extraordinarily gratifying to see, in reports I receive and in my visits to the vaccination clinic at Lanman Center, how many of our colleagues and friends are taking advantage of this vital preventive measure—and the feedback on the process has been extremely positive.

Please remember that all Connecticut residents and those employed in Connecticut, when eligible for the vaccine, have multiple options available to make an appointment:

For Yale employees and Yale Health members:

For any eligible Connecticut citizen, including employees and Yale Health members:

Please make only one appointment for a vaccination; if you need to change the appointment, please cancel the existing appointment so that vaccine will be available for others.

More information about vaccines and vaccination (including Frequently Asked Questions) is available on the Yale Program website. Specific questions about the Yale Program may be directed to or the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604.

Government and academic organizations, such as the CDC and the New England Journal of Medicine, also maintain informative websites.

With COVID-19 infections higher now than they were for most of the fall semester, it is more important than ever that we faithfully follow all of our health guidelines. Indeed, we are able to come together again because we have seen that these actions do make a difference on our campus and beyond. Once again, I thank you for your unfailing commitment to care for yourselves, for your friends and colleagues, and for our Yale and New Haven communities.