All George Mason University students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to help ensure a safe return to campus by participating daily in the university’s Mason COVID Health Check™. Beginning Aug. 17, all visitors to campus, including students, faculty, staff, parents and friends, are required to show proof that they have received clearance through the Mason COVID Health Check™ to be on campus.
The Mason COVID Health Check™ is a screening tool in which participants answer a short series of simple questions relating to their health and any exposure they may have had to coronavirus. The tool is key to helping Mason avoid coronavirus outbreaks by allowing for early identification of individuals who may have been exposed to coronavirus or are beginning to exhibit symptoms. These individuals can then be quarantined to avoid exposing others on campus to the virus.
“For us to have the greatest impact, we must be able to identify people in our community who are sick or symptomatic, or have been in close contact with individuals who are sick or symptomatic,” said Julie Zobel, assistant vice president for safety, emergency, and enterprise risk management at Mason.
“It should take no more than two minutes to complete the first time and even less after that,” Zobel added.
If everyone who plans to come to campus fills out the Mason COVID Health Check™ every day, seven days a week, Mason public health and safety leaders can better understand how prevalent COVID-19 is in the Mason community.
“By doing the screening every day before you come to campus or before you leave your dorm room, you are taking the time to reflect on your exposures and any symptoms you may have,” said Amira Roess, professor of global health and epidemiology in Mason’s College of Health and Human Services. “These are things that are not always in the front of our minds during our busy days, but, through this screening, we stop and think about them…. Filling out the Mason COVID Health Check™ is a way we can reduce the risk of our passing along COVID-19 to others.”
Universities throughout Virginia are using similar screening tools as a means of stemming coronavirus outbreaks on campuses. Roess led the team at CHHS that created the Mason COVID Health Check™ system in March, within days of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declaring coronavirus a pandemic. In addition, Virginians are encouraged to download and use the commonwealth’s COVID-19 exposure notification app called COVIDWISE (COVIDWISE.org).
The Mason COVID Health Check™ is just one of a series of components to Mason’s Safe Return to Campus, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance. First-time users of the Mason COVID Health Check™ answer eight initial questions. After that, an individual using the Mason COVID Health Check™ answers routine questions pertaining to COVID test history, possible symptoms and potential exposures.
Based upon their responses, one of three automated messages will appear. A green result means that an individual can come to campus, with the result in hand. Anyone who comes to campus must be prepared to show the green result to university administrators. A red result means that an individual may be experiencing a medical emergency. Individuals who receive yellow results have indicated that they have some COVID-19 symptoms, have been tested and are awaiting results or received a positive result, or were with someone who received a positive result.
Only individuals with green results are allowed on campus.
Roess emphasized the importance of filling out the screening tool daily as a meaningful way to support the Mason community.
“We talk about how we are a global community. This is our chance to show that we really are a community,” Roess said. “We fill out these screeners to protect each other.”