Frequently Asked Questions

The following are frequently asked questions about the MBL’s planning for in-person instruction, research, and activities in 2021.

General COVID-19-Related Information

1. Will the MBL report COVID-19 cases that occur in the campus community?
The MBL’s COVID-19 Dashboard provides important information on the status of COVID-19 at the MBL as well as locally in the community. We will continue to update the dashboard throughout the summer with the number of cases detected through surveillance testing as well as cases reported to the MBL.

2. Will the MBL continue to provide COVID-19 testing throughout the summer?
The MBL asymptomatic testing program is mandatory for anyone residing in MBL residences who have not been fully vaccinated upon arrival to our campus and for future requirements that arise from our new vaccination policy. Visit MBL Forward for more information.

3. Will the MBL’s contact tracing continue throughout the summer?
The MBL will continue to conduct contact tracing in the event that a program participant (student, faculty, researcher) residing in campus housing or a staff member is symptomatic for or tests positive for COVID-19. The Contact tracing will continue for future requirements that arise from our new vaccination policy. Visit MBL Forward for more information.

4. What is the MBL’s current travel policy?
The MBL has resumed all MBL-sponsored international and domestic as well as non-essential personal travel. All travelers are encouraged to consult the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory and CDC’s guidelines and requirements for travel for more information.

For more information, visit the MBL Forward travel page.

MBL COVID-19 Vaccination-Related Requirements

1. Are MBL employees required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
The MBL expects every employee to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they cannot do so because of a medical or religious reason. The MBL will use an online registry to confirm employee vaccination status. Employees should upload proof of their COVID-19 vaccination in the MBL’s registry by August 9th. Our goal is a campus-wide vaccination rate that is as close to 100% as possible.

2. Will the MBL require students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
The MBL will require all students to be fully vaccinated. The requirement will be in effect at a date in the near future.

3. Will others on campus (contractors, affiliates, visitors, and volunteers) be expected to be vaccinated?
The MBL encourages everyone to be vaccinated. We will provide details in the near future on requirements for other members of the MBL community visiting the campus.

4. What vaccines will be accepted?
Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted. For a list of authorized vaccines, see question #5 below.

5. Which vaccines have been authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO)?
At this time, the following vaccines have been authorized by the FDA or WHO, under emergency use authorization/listing, and will satisfy the MBL’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement:

  • AstraZeneca (WHO)
  • Covishield/Serum Institute of India (WHO)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (FDA)
  • Moderna (FDA)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (FDA)
  • Sinopharm (WHO)
  • Sinovac (WHO)

This list will be updated as other vaccines are authorized.

6. How have the available vaccines been tested for safety and efficacy?
The three vaccines that have received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have undergone thorough testing for safety and efficacy in large clinical trials. Each trial enrolled between 28,000 and 44,000 people before the vaccines received EUA status. The vaccines were found to be highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19 infections and recent data suggest that a vaccinated individual has a greatly diminished ability to transmit the virus if exposed.

Over 303 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through June 8, 2021. Many people have reported only mild side effects and to date, the systems in place to monitor the safety of the vaccines have found that serious side effects are rare. For more information about vaccine safety, visit the CDC’s website.

7. What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?
Being fully vaccinated means two weeks after a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine.

8. What are the expectations for time intervals between doses for two-dose vaccines?
For individuals who received a two-dose vaccine, we expect the dosing interval to be consistent with CDC guidelines. However, if your dosing interval is outside these recommendations, we still encourage you to submit your documentation. Human Resources is coordinating the MBL-wide vaccination registry processes. Your records will be reviewed and if there is concern, they will contact you.

9. Where can employees, students and other members of the MBL community receive a vaccination?
There are many options for vaccination appointments. Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at providers around the state using the Commonwealth’s website mass.gov.

10. Will MBL departments and labs be expected to gather vaccination information?
Individual departments and labs should not set up their own processes or ask individuals about their vaccination status.

11.  How will vaccination data be used and stored?
In order to verify compliance access to vaccination data will be stored in a secure system and restricted to a small number of staff. The information will be maintained in accordance with all applicable laws and public health regulations.

Employee Vaccination Information

1. Why is the MBL putting these requirements in place?
The MBL has determined based on expert guidance that widespread COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to contribute to greater immunity, reduce the likelihood of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, minimize the risk imposed by new variants, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus.

2. By what date should MBL employees provide evidence of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19?
August 9th, 2021.

3. What is the process for employees to show proof of full vaccination?
In the coming week we will share further details on the MBL’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement and related procedures, including information about how to upload their vaccination information.

4. What are the requirements if an MBL employee does not provide proof of vaccination?
When the MBL transitions to a mask-optional indoor status for fully vaccinated individuals, any employee working on campus or at a MBL facility who does not upload proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for any reason will be required to participate in a weekly COVID-19 testing program. They must also wear a mask when in MBL buildings, except when in a private office/room with the door shut or when eating/drinking with six feet social distance, and potentially follow other mitigation measures.

5. Does the COVID-19 vaccine-related requirement apply to employees who are not coming to campus?
These requirements apply to all employees who access MBL facilities for any reason and at any frequency.

6. How do you define the “MBL facilities” where this requirement is in effect?
MBL facilities include all owned or leased buildings with MBL offices, laboratories, residences, or other MBL owned property.

7. Do employees who have had COVID-19 need to be vaccinated? What are the additional requirements/precautions for them?
The MBL is following current guidance from UChicago Medicine for individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19. If an individual has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, they will need to postpone vaccination until that 90-day window has elapsed. If they are still symptomatic and infectious, they should postpone vaccination until they are well and no longer contagious. Also, anyone treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent therapy in the past 90 days should postpone vaccination until after the 90-day window has passed.

Individuals will be required to be vaccinated when this 90-day window expires. After the 90-day window and until the individual is fully vaccinated (two weeks after a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine), they will be subject to weekly testing, wearing masks indoors, and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures.

The MBL may adapt this guidance as more information becomes available.

8. What are the consequences of not complying with the vaccine requirement?
If unvaccinated individuals do not follow the additional requirements laid out in question #4 they may receive corrective action from a warning to denial of building access and up to and including termination from the MBL.

 

Vaccination Information for Participants of Education and Visiting Research Programs

1.  Does the vaccination requirement apply to all students, faculty, visiting scientists, research collaborators, and other visitors to the MBL?
Yes, the requirement applies to all individuals participating in MBL classes, research, or other MBL-sponsored programs or activities. This includes undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, as well as Whitman investigators and their lab personnel, and resident scientist collaborators.

2. Why is the MBL requiring education and research program participants to be vaccinated?
The requirement will strengthen the MBL’s ability to protect the health and safety of our campus and neighboring community. Research indicates universal COVID-19 vaccination will contribute to greater immunity, reduce the risk of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus. This is particularly true for individuals who are often in close contact with one another and live in shared spaces with others. The vaccine requirement thus will significantly assist the MBL in safely operating in-person education and research programs.

3. When is the deadline to submit documentation?
We will announce information on the process and deadline to submit information shortly.

4. How should education and research program participants who do not have access to an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine receive an FDA vaccine?
If you have questions about this, please email hr@mbl.edu.

5. What if I received a vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA or the WHO? Do I need to receive an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine before I come to campus?
If the vaccine you received is approved for use from the WHO or the FDA by the time you arrive on campus, that vaccine will meet the MBL’s requirement and you will not need to receive another vaccine. If you have questions about this, please email hr@mbl.edu.

6. What are the requirements if an individual does not provide proof of vaccination?
When the MBL transitions to a mask-optional indoor status for fully vaccinated individuals, any individual working on campus or at a MBL facility who does not upload proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for any reason will be required to participate in a weekly COVID-19 testing program. They must also wear a mask when in MBL buildings, except when in a private office/room with the door shut or when eating/drinking with six feet social distance, and potentially follow other mitigation measures.

7. What are the consequences of not complying with the vaccine requirement?
If unvaccinated individuals do not follow the additional requirements laid out in question #6 they may receive corrective action from a warning to denial of building access to dismissal from the MBL. 

8. Do individuals who have had COVID-19 need to be vaccinated? What are the additional requirements/precautions for them?
The MBL is following current guidance from UChicago Medicine for individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19. If an individual has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, they will need to postpone vaccination until that 90-day window has elapsed. If they are still symptomatic and infectious, they should postpone vaccination until they are well and no longer contagious. Also, anyone treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent therapy in the past 90 days should postpone vaccination until after the 90-day window has passed.

Individuals will be required to be vaccinated when this 90-day window expires. After the 90-day window and until the individual is fully vaccinated (two weeks after a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine), they will be subject to weekly testing, wearing masks indoors, and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures.

The MBL may adapt this guidance as more information becomes available.

9. What is the process for international visitors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and show proof of vaccination?
International visitors who have received a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the FDA or the World Health Organization (WHO) can submit proof of vaccination to the MBL.

If an international visitor arrives in the United States and has not yet been vaccinated or has received a vaccine that has not been approved by the WHO by the time they arrive on campus, the MBL encourages them to make an appointment at a local provider.

There are many options for vaccination appointments. Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at providers around the state using the Commonwealth’s website vaxfinder.mass.gov.

Please note that individuals may be subject to additional travel restrictions/requirements as designated by local authorities. Those individuals will also be subject to weekly testing and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures until they have been fully vaccinated.

10. My vaccine documentation is not in English? How do I get it translated?
Records must include all information requested in MBL’s vaccination registry in English.  The MBL does not offer a translation service or provide referrals for specific companies.

11. Who can I contact if I have questions?
Any individual with questions on the MBL’s vaccination requirements should contact hr@mbl.edu.

COVID Preparations and Precautions

Q. What are the MBL’s guiding principles in planning for 2021 programming?
A. The MBL’s goal is to prioritize the health of the MBL and local communities and visitors while sustaining our distinctive approach to education, research, and collaboration.

Q: What has the MBL done to ensure activities can resume on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: The MBL re-opened resident faculty research labs in June 2020 and began welcoming a small number of visiting investigators in July 2020. All investigators followed policies and protocols put in place for the resident research programs. The latter were developed in close consultation with the University of Chicago. During Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, the MBL welcomed a small number of UChicago undergraduates for lab-based courses.

To accomplish the above and to expand the on-campus population in the upcoming spring and summer, the MBL reconfigured labs, classrooms, auditoriums, and dining spaces, implemented enhanced cleaning requirements mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, posted signage across campus, and introduced stringent public health measures both in and out of MBL buildings including launching an internal contact tracing program. We also worked with University experts to implement a testing program for the students which we will extend for spring and summer 2021.

The MBL conducts regular meetings that covers all aspects of the Lab with Director Nipam Patel and Chief Operating Officer Paul Speer. The review process enables the MBL to assess current status, identify needs for internal adjustments, and to adapt policies and procedures to meet new guidance from the Commonwealth and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, the MBL consults regularly with experts from the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Q: When will the MBL communicate COVID guidelines to course faculty and other visitors?
A: MBL researchers, course participants, staff and visitors to campus can find COVID-19 guidance and guidelines at goforward.mbl.edu.

Q: What is the MBL’s approach for testing the campus community for COVID-19?
A: Testing details are being developed in consultation with experts from the University of Chicago. All details can be found on the Testing Program webpage.

Q: Will COVID-19 public health policies be modified for individuals who show proof of COVID vaccination?
A: All fully vaccinated individuals residing on campus can be exempt from the Testing Program with proof of full vaccination at registration or upon arrival to campus when retrieving their MBL ID Card. All other guidelines including social distancing, mask use, and capacity limits are in place for all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on campus. Any modifications to our policies for vaccinated individuals are to be determined pending review of current guidance and in consultation with University of Chicago Medical Center epidemiology experts.

Travel and Quarantine Procedures

Q:  What travel and quarantine procedures should all travelers follow when arriving in Woods Hole?
A: MBL staff and visitors arriving on campus, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption (e.g. proof of full vaccination), are required to quarantine for 10 days, or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. This is also an MBL requirement if an individual intends to enter a campus building or residential space after travel.

Q: How will the MBL manage international participants and the uncertainties regarding their ability to participate?
A: The international community is vital to the MBL, however we have concerns about the complexities of international travel and state and/or federal restrictions that are beyond our control. In general, the MBL is not able to reimburse travel expenses, including visa fees and plane fares, for cancelled trips and we urge international travelers to plan accordingly.

Q: Although there may be ways to request permission, what if course participants have institutional regulations that ban work-related travel?
A: Home institutional regulations will take precedence in this situation.

Q: Can people rent cars instead of taking the Peter Pan bus from the airports?
A: Individuals traveling to the Advanced Research Training Courses who choose to rent cars to travel from the airports can be reimbursed at the Peter Pan bus rate. Those with special circumstances must seek prior approval from the Education Department.

Q: What is the plan if someone living in MBL housing is required to isolate or quarantine?
A: The MBL has designated quarantine housing that is reserved only for those who test positive or have close contact with COVID-19 positive case while on campus. Read more here.

Q: What is the MBL’s policy regarding quarantining? For example, if a person is exposed but does not immediately test positive, will they be required to quarantine and for how long?
A: MBL follows Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines on quarantine requirements and close contacts.  MBL has an internal contact tracing program that will determine if an individual has been potentially exposed on campus and is therefore required to quarantine.

COVID-19 Regulation/Enforcement

Q: Are there consequences if MBL students, scientists, or employees violate COVID safety guidelines?
A: MBL requires all staff, students, and visitors to take COVID-19 training and then attest that they will abide by all MBL policies and protocols regarding the virus. Failure to abide by these policies can lead to sanctions ranging from denial of building access to dismissal from the MBL.

Q: Will the MBL take the lead on enforcement, or does that responsibility fall to course leadership and/or the Whitman Investigator in charge of a laboratory?
A: We want the leadership of the course or Whitman Investigator to support our policies, but ultimately if there is an issue then MBL will enforce its policies.

Course Admittance

Q: If the course I was admitted to in 2020 is not offered in 2021, will I be deferred until 2022?
A: Yes

Q: If I was accepted into a 2020 course that will be offered in 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel, or institutional constraints, I cannot attend, will I be deferred until 2022?
A: While this is up to the directors of each course, deferral to 2022 is highly likely.

Q: Will the scholarship I received for the 2020 course apply in 2021?
A: Yes

Q: Do I need to do anything with my application if I was admitted to the 2020 course?
A: Students who were officially accepted to a 2020 course do not need to take any action on their applications. Accepted students will be contacted by the Education Department with registration instructions.

Q: May I update my 2020 application for 2021 submission?
A: Yes, please contact education@mbl.edu for more information.

Q: What should I do if I was waitlisted for a 2020 course?
A: You will be contacted by the Education Department if a spot becomes available.

Course or Lab Set-Up and Laboratory Operations

Q: When will research support services such as the Central Microscopy Facility (CMF), Marine Resources Center (MRC), Animal Care Facility (ACF), Zebrafish Facility be available for the spring and summer?
A: All these services are currently operating.

Whitman Investigators

Q: I do not know if my university will let me travel/rent space. What is the deadline for committing to lab or housing space?
A: The deadline to rent lab space is January 31, 2021. Housing applications must be received by March 1, 2021. Information on 2021 registrations can be found at www.mbl.edu/registration. We realize that this is a fluid situation and will work with Whitman Investigators on an individual basis to accommodate their specific needs.

Q: Can Whitman Investigators bring undergraduate students?
A: Undergraduates looking to work in a Whitman lab must fit into the Whitman Investigator’s  Return to Research Plan (RRP) and must meet supervision requirements. The Return to Research Plan, along with other required documents and training, will be sent to investigators in advance of their arrival to campus. Undergraduates coming with Whitman Investigators will need to secure off-campus housing in 2021.

Housing

Q: Is MBL housing available?
A: Yes, housing is currently being reserved with priority given toto the Advanced Research Training Course students, faculty, and Whitman and Grass fellows and scientists. Because of the pandemic, all on-campus dorm rooms will have single occupancy. On-campus housing is not available to undergraduates working in Whitman labs.

Q: Can I rent housing in Falmouth?
A: If the MBL is unable to accommodate you in on-campus housing during your desired dates or if you prefer other accommodations, there are various resources for community housing.  Off campus housing can be found on the MBL’s housing site or at  WHOI Community Housing. Additional resources such as www.airbnb.com or this listing of local hotels may also be useful. Please note: Whitman Fellow, Grass Fellow, and Logan Science Journalism Fellow funding is for use of MBL housing only.

Q: Can my research group rent a cottage together and therefore form a lab “pod”?
A: Yes, provided everyone in your research group arrives with proof of full vaccination or negative PCR Covid-19 test.

Lectures and Other Events

Q: Will there be Friday Evening Lectures and other summer activities?
A: The MBL is currently operating at previous Commonwealth of Massachusetts restrictive levels for capacity. The MBL is currently evaluating the possibility of expanding the capacity of gathering sizes for our lectures and summer activities Any determined changes will be forthcoming. Information on all public events will be shared on the MBL calendar.

Summer Camp

Q: Will summer camp be available for children?
A: Yes, the MBL is pleased to be partnering with YMCA Cape Cod and WHOI to hold summer camp on WHOI’s Quissett Campus and at the MBL Cottages. Supporting our working families is always an important priority for the MBL and is of elevated importance given the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the availability of daycare and summer camps. Read more here.

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