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For WHOI personnel: COVID-19 Guidelines and FAQs

COVID-19 Guidelines and FAQs

Updated April 7, 2020

The latest Institution updates and guidelines related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). If you have questions or concerns, please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Update: April 3, 2020

The Institution will periodically provide high level summary data reflecting how many in our community have self-identified as “tested positive” to COVID-19 and current status. We understand this information may be helpful to members of our community as we all continue to navigate these challenging times. We remind the community that this data reflects self-reported values only, and that we are taking every precaution, while preserving confidentiality, to notify the appropriate persons within WHOI who may be affected (Review WHOI’s Guidelines & FAQs, #3 Protocol)

At this point in time, the number of self-identified “tested positive” is two, and these individuals have not been on campus for over two weeks. Additionally, they have reported that they are, or are about to be, released from quarantine by their medical professionals.  Should we have significantly more cases among WHOI staff, we will provide an update as soon as possible, and regardless, plan to send another update next Friday. In the meantime, please revisit the #3 Protocol on the FAQ website and submit any questions or situations to coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Also, in accordance with state guidelines, the Institution's physical campus remains closed until further notice.

On this page

  1. Institution status
  2. Policy & process updates
  3. PROTOCOL: What to do if you, your employee, or person you live with experience COVID-19 symptoms, are a presumptive positive, or test positive
  4. About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 
  5. Guidelines for self-isolation
  6. Resources and tips for working remotely and information services
  7. External information and resources

Institution Status

Physical campus closure

In accordance with the executive order issued on March 23 by Governor Baker, WHOI’s physical campus will be closed starting tomorrow, March 24 at 12:00 PM, through April 7 or further notice. If you already have a work from home plan in place, please continue working within the plans implemented last week.

Individuals whose duties are deemed “essential” and need to be on campus for any period of time will be contacted by their supervisor with staffing and operational plans that are in accordance with social distancing and state guidelines. If you had previously agreed (and supervisor approved) rotation on campus, please only continue to do so after receiving approval from your supervisor that your services on campus are essential, and do so only with social distancing.

If you are not able to work remotely, and have not already done so, please contact your supervisor to discuss work options. All supervisors are asked to proactively reach out to each of their direct reports to ensure they are supported and knowledgeable of options.  If, after discussing with your supervisor, remote work is not possible, please email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details, including the beginning date and the circumstances. A special emergency code will be provided and questions will come back to you and your supervisor if clarification is required.

We appreciate everyone’s efforts during this trying time and trust that supervisors, teams, and individuals are doing their best to keep work and operations moving forward.  If there are any concerns or questions, please work with your supervisor, department chair, unit head, and/or Vice President or contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Guidance for “essential” on-campus staffing and operations

If your job is considered to be an “essential” on-campus position, you will be contacted by your supervisor with staffing and operational plans that are in accordance with social distancing and state guidelines. Operations that may continue to have limited on-site staffing, as determined by Senior Administration or Department Chairs, include:

  • Facilities infrastructure (security, power plant, safety, hazardous materials)
  • IS and communications infrastructure
  • Maintenance of living specimens and animals
  • Projects for the Navy with a request from the Navy to continue work
  • Maintenance of essential facilities (such as vacuum, cold storage and cryogenic systems as well as maintaining long-term experiments)
  • Professional services such as legal and accounting services, payroll, employee benefit processing, and maintenance of systems for financial transactions and services
  • Port and marine transportation operations
  • Necessary support for distance education
  • Necessary support for students

Confirm with your supervisor that your roles or duties are essential, as listed above or per the Executive Order, before coming onto campus as part of a rotation with social distancing.

Cleaning your on-campus space
The Institution has increased cleaning of buildings, ships, common areas, restrooms, etc, but they do not clean your workspace, such as desk, computer, keyboard, telephone, and lab tables or equipment.  If you are an essential on-campus staff, we ask for you to wipe door handles, workspace, and high traffic areas regularly with common cleaning products or Lysol wipes as available. We ask that you do this before and after use and touch of these spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Resources for cleaning and disinfection

Buttery services
The Buttery is closed until further notice.

Remote work and operations

We are asking all personnel and students who can work remotely, and who have not been selected as “essential” on-campus staff,  to do so until further notice. Please work with your supervisors to identify work and projects for you to do while working remotely.  All supervisors are asked to proactively reach out to each of their direct reports to ensure they are supported and knowledgeable of options.

If, after discussing with your supervisor, remote work is not possible, please email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details, including the beginning date and the circumstances. A special emergency code will be provided and questions will come back to you and your supervisor if clarification is required.

Dock and ship restrictions

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the WHOI Iselin Dock will be restricted beginning Monday, March 16.  The purpose of the restriction is to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to our ships. The restriction will last until further notice. The Bigelow gate will be closed for access.  Normal access into Smith, Smith Connector, shops, and Iselin offices will be through the Smith Lobby.

The Smith Parking Lot will be also closed to WHOI staff parking starting March 16.  This space is to be used for all deliveries to the Smith/Iselin shops, offices, and vessels.

For those seeking access to the Iselin dock please complete the WHOI COVID-19 self-assessment form. Everyone must fill out this form prior to dock entry.

Access to the R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Atlantis will only be allowed for ship’s crew and pre-screened scientific participants, technicians, and essential Marine Operations staff.

Personnel not on the vessel access list will be turned away at the gangway. For vessel access, please contact Eric Benway for pre-screening at  ebenway@whoi.edu.

Shipping Procedures at WHOI

In order to keep our delivery personnel safe, Distribution will be operating under the following procedures until further notice:

  1. We will receive packages from UPS, FEDEX, and other carriers each day, however not all packages will be delivered the same day.
  2. Contact Steve Senior or Pat Harrington if you are in need of a particular package, and we will deliver it as soon as possible.
  3. Delivery personnel will not be entering offices. Packages will be left in the hall outside the destination office.
  4. Shipments of dry ice will be delivered the day they arrive. Please alert us if you are expecting one of these.
  5. Mail will be recovered from the post office and sorted daily. However, mail will only be delivered on Tuesday and Friday.
  6. Outgoing mail will be picked up when we deliver, or it can be left in the “late mail pickup bins” located in Clark (by 2ndfloor elevator), Fenno, Smith, and Challenger. These will be picked up daily.
  7. Packages and other items for which a Shipping Request has been submitted will be picked up when we can, but may not be daily.
  8. Feel free to drop off, or pickup, your urgent shipment or mail at Distribution. However, due to social distancing concerns, please alert us in advance if you intend to do so.
  9. If you are working from home most days, you may want to consider having your Fedex or UPS packages sent to your home address.

If you have any questions or need further clarification, please contact Steve Senior or Pat Harrington.

Travel

International travel

  • All WHOI-sponsored international travel for WHOI business or programs is suspended for all staff, students, and postdocs.  This includes any travel associated with one’s activities as WHOI employee, postdoc, or student regardless if funded by a government grant, foundation, company, or other university. This is in accordance with U.S. Department of State's advisory. If there are any questions, please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.
  • We are asking all personnel and students to cancel or postpone all International travel for personal purposes. This is in accordance with U.S. Department of State's advisory. If there are any questions, please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Domestic travel

  • Domestic travel is suspended for WHOI business and programs until further notification, and we strongly encourage people to cancel or postpone all non-essential personal travel.  If there are any questions, please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Travel for WHOI senior administration
Travel is suspended for all Senior Administration members unless given permission by WHOI’s President and Director and Deputy Director and Vice-President of Research.

Events

WHOI sponsored or associated events and all on-campus seminars, talks, meetings, and events must be postponed, canceled, or “virtualized” until further notice. Consider if there is a virtual solution to holding the event or postpone it until a further date.

WHOI visitors or guests

Until further notice, visitors, guests, volunteers, and guest students should stay away from campus. Please reschedule or meet virtually.

Guest students and volunteers

Starting today, no new guest students or volunteers will be approved. Current volunteers should remain away from campus until further notice.

Policy & Process Updates

Time cards during reduced on-site operations

We understand there may be questions about the current operations model and how this may impact your timecard.  The Institution was only closed on Monday March 16th.  If you worked that day you should enter regular work project codes onto your timecard; otherwise, the 58032 Special Emergency Code was added to your timecard for you to charge for. If for some reason you do not see it, email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu

Since that time, we have been operating under the Reduced On-Site Operations model of staffing.  Our departments have developed comprehensive plans with their staff members to maximize opportunities to work from home, balancing the need to work on-site with social distancing as a requirement.  Layered on top of this are the school and daycare closings that have impacted the ability to work from home.

If you and your supervisor agree that you

  • Are not able to work from home for one of the following reasons
    • Child care obligations
    • Lack of technology
    • Work cannot be performed at home
    • Some other unique reason
  • And you are not able to work on-site for one of these reasons
    • Social distancing is not possible
    • Work has been impacted due to cruise, field work, or other project cancellations
    • Some other unique reason
  • Or you have already been asked to self-isolate by the Institution due to travel circumstances

Then you should email the details to coronavirusQA@whoi.edu, including the beginning date and the circumstances. A special emergency code will be provided and questions will come back to you and your supervisor if clarification is required.

There are guidelines to having access to this code which include,

  • Work from home as much as you are able to
  • Work on-site with social distancing with supervisor approval
  • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu if your situation changes or if you have any questions along the way
  • If you or a family member become ill related to COVID-19, please email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu and a different code will be provided
  • If you become sick and otherwise would be out of work due to occasional illness, use Occasionally Sick Code 58010 as you typical would
  • If a family member becomes sick, use Family Illness Code 58015 as you typically would
  • Keep your department apprised of any changes

If you have any questions or concerns please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Questions about “occasional illness” policy

Depending upon your employment status, WHOI has occasional illness time available as a paid benefit. If you are out of work for more than five consecutive work days as a result of an illness or injury and qualify for benefits, short-term paid disability benefits may be available to you.  Email your circumstances and questions to coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

School closings and related policy information

We understand that school closings in Falmouth and the many towns in which our employees, postdocs, and students live will impact our families who may now have to care for younger children.

As a result, the following guidelines are provided:

  • Follow earlier guidance about working from home
  • If you are impacted by school closings and have a child that you now have to care for which impacts your ability to work from home or on-site
    • Email your supervisor, Department Administrator, and coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with the following information
    • Your name, department, and supervisor name
    • Brief details of impact of school closings on your ability to work
    • Dates and hours/each day of impact [you will enter worked hours into your timecard and the special code will be assigned and entered for non-worked hours]
      • You will be provided with a “special” code [non-worked pay code] to enter into your timecard
  • Please read the updated policy noted below
  • For those not impacted by school closings, please note that different work assignments may be required by your supervisor to ensure essential work is completed
  • Supervisors are requested to make every effort to accommodate individual needs or requests and to bring situations that are not easily solved to the attention of your Department Administrator, Department Chair, unit head or Vice President
    • After situations are reviewed by your Department Administrator, Chair, Unit Head, or Vice President, situations that are not easily solved should be emailed to coronavirusQA@whoi.edu">

Our goal is to support our employees, postdocs and students to the best of our abilities.  To that end, we welcome communications and related questions to ensure you have the support you need for your individual situation.

Additional costs incurred from cancellations and other disruptions due to COVID-19

While we begin to assess the financial impact and reimbursements required from cancellations due to COVID-19, we ask that you document any fees and costs.  We are working with NSF and other funding agencies and will provide information as we have it.

Impacts of COVID-19 on submission of NSF proposals and existing awards

NSF has developed a series of FAQs to answer any questions you may have regarding NSF proposals, awards, and travel and conferences (see Q&As 10-12).  Please review NSF’s FAQs for further information

Sending COVID-19 related updates via WHOI announcements

If you have information related to COVID-19 that you believe needs to be sent to the entire community, please send the announcement to coronavirusQA@whoi.edu. We will review your requested announcement and will work with you to get that information into the daily announcement and on the COVID-19 Guidelines and FAQs as appropriate.

PROTOCOL: What to do if you, your employee, or person you live with is experiencing symptoms you think might be COVID-19, are a presumptive positive, or test positive for COVID-19

If you or someone you live with has tested positive, presumptive positive, or experiencing symptoms (assumed) that may be related  to COVID-19

For the health and safety of our WHOI community, we are asking all WHOI staff, postdocs, and students and guests to take the following steps if you or someone you live with is positive for, presumptive positive, or experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 .

If you have:

  • Symptoms you believe may be related to COVID-19 [Assumed]
    • Stay at home and self-isolate
    • Call your healthcare provider
    • Notify your supervisor that you are out sick, and
    • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details and contact information
    • You are not required to disclose your symptoms or diagnosis to your supervisor
  • Been told to take a COVID-19 test, are waiting on results, or have been identified by your healthcare provider as “suspected but not confirmed” [Presumptive]
    • Stay at home and self-isolate
    • Notify your supervisor that you are out sick, and
    • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details and contact information
    • You are not required to disclose your symptoms or diagnosis to your supervisor
  • Receive a positive test result for COVID-19 [positive]
    • Follow advice of your physician
    • Stay at home and self-isolate
    • Notify your supervisor you are out sick
    • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details and contact information
    • You are not required to disclose symptoms or diagnosis to your supervisor
  • A person living with you that has tested positive, has symptoms that may be related to COVID-19, or has been identified by their healthcare professional as “suspected but unconfirmed”[presumptive positive]
    • Stay at home and self-isolate
    • Notify your physician
    • Notify your supervisor you are taking a family illness day if necessary
    • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with details and contact information

Please note that all information shared with coronavirusQA@whoi.edu will be maintained as confidential to the greatest extent possible under the law, and we will work with supervisors, department heads/chairs, and department administrators  in all related issues to maintain private health care confidentiality and your privacy.

Information for supervisors, department chairs or unit head

If you are a supervisor, department chair, or unit head and learn that you or one of your employees is either “assumed”, “presumptive” or “confirmed” to be ill with coronavirus COVID-19, please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

Confirmed” is when someone has had a test and they receive results that the test results were positive.  “Presumptive” is when a medical professional has ordered a test but the results are not yet known and “Assumed” is when someone is not feeling well but their medical professional does not feel their symptoms or situation warrant a test at that time.

Please keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • If someone is working on-site and contacts you that they are not feeling well, ask them to go home and monitor their symptoms and report into coronvirusQA@whoi.edu
  • Do not share information about your employees with others outside of coronavirusQA@whoi.edu. We will work with supervisors in all related issues to maintain private health care confidentiality and your privacy.

What protocols does WHOI have in place when someone contacts coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with information related to COVID-19?

WHOI has a protocol in place when someone contacts coronavirusQA@whoi.edu with information about an illness. We contact the individual, sort out information, learn how the individual feels about sharing their name, and importantly we learn a) who may have been considered a “close contact” for anyone who is “confirmed” b) locations at the Institution where that person may have been and c)when they were last on campus .

When appropriate, we then initiate a notification process as indicated to notify those who may have had an exposure.  Facilities and EH&S staff are notified of locations as part of our protocol to ensure that our emergency, cleaning and EH&S staff are made aware of any location on campus.  Whenever possible we work closely with the supervisor. We do not generally notify the Institution or employees outside of the need-to-know group or the “close contact” group. “Close contact,” under CDC guidelines, means (a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time (close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case), or (b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

Also, once we learn about the potentially contaminated building/space, we will lock that area down and issue a warning to onsite personnel to stay away until it is safe to enter.

About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new virus named SARS-CoV-2, which has been known to cause severe illness in people.  Read more about COVID-19 the on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Symptoms associated with COVID-19

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. [COVID-19 symptoms and  testing information from CDC]

What can I do to prevent illness from COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus by practicing social distancing guidelines.

  • Stay-at-home and only leave your house when necessary
  • Avoid close contact with people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you do need to be around others
    • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
      • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
    • Avoid touching your face while wearing and removing your mask. Wash your hands after removing your mask.
    • If your supply of masks is limited, they should be disinfected or cleaned before re-use. Some masks that are made of cotton fabric, for example, can be cleaned with soap and water; while other masks that should not be wetted could be placed in a bag and stored for 4-5 days at room temperature before reuse.
  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are not feeling well and limit interactions with people you live with
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Cough into your upper arm or elbow if no tissue is available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Do not share pens or other utensils
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Guidelines for self-isolation

What does it mean to “self-isolate?”

If you are asked to self-isolate after returning from a country listed on the CDC’s COVID-19 travel advisories page, you should stay home — in your room, your apartment, or your house. Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or other social gatherings until 14 days after the date of your departure from the country in question.

Who will be asked to self-isolate?

If you are having COVID-19 symptoms, presumptive positive, or tested positive, you should self-isolate and contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.  If you live with an individual who is experiencing symptoms, presumptive positive, or tested positive, please avoid contact with the individual as much as possible and practice social distancing guidelines to limit potential spread as much as possible. If you have questions please contact coronavirusQA@whoi.edu.

I live with someone who has been asked to self-isolate; what precautions should I take?

If you live with a spouse or family members who has been asked to self-isolate, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu, including details of your situation.
  • Clean your hands. All persons sharing living quarters with someone who is self-isolating should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms. If you are sharing living quarters with someone who is self- isolating, monitor yourself closely for the development of fever and respiratory symptoms. If you develop a fever, cough, or sore throat, call your doctor immediately and email coronavirusQA@whoi.edu .
  • Don’t visit those who are self-isolating.
  • Clean common surfaces. The virus is not spread very easily from contact with soiled household surfaces, but it’s still a good idea to clean surfaces that you share with the person who is self-isolating (or any sick person) such as door knobs, telephones, and bathroom surfaces. Use a standard household disinfectant. Wash your hands after cleaning the area.
  • Wash laundry and dishes safely. If you are washing used linens (such as bed sheets and towels) for the person who is self-isolating, use household laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting. Avoid “hugging” laundry and use a laundry basket or bag while carrying it to the washing machine to prevent self-contamination. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub right after handling dirty laundry. Dirty dishes and eating utensils should be washed in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.

How can I prepare for potential self-isolation?

  • Make sure to have 2-3 weeks of food and prescription medication available in your house
  • Identify a friend or family member who can bring food and medications to you in case you are placed under self-isolation.

Resources for working remotely and “virtualizing” meetings and other activities

Questions or issues? Contact the IS Help Desk and helpdesk@whoi.edu or 508-289-2439

To utilize the resource links below you must first install the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client. If you need assistance with installing and configuring your computer for remote access, please contact the IS Help Desk at 508-289-2439 or ServiceNow Self Service Portal.

Tools and software for remote work

Network access from remote locations

Virtual help desk services

  • ServiceNow Self Service Portal - Allows you to request help from IS (open tickets) and check the status of your request. Requests are automatically routed to the correct IS expert and you will receive updates via email. You are able to communicate with IS and access resources via this site. This is accessible off campus without a VPN connection.
    • TIP: Try navigating to the IS Self Service Portal and clicking "Get Help" to familiarize yourself with creating a ticket. WHOI email username/password will be required.
  • GoToAssist - This is a support application that is used by the IS Help Desk to provide remote desktop control and can use it when working with you remotely.

Soft phone, instant messaging and screen sharing

  • Jabber - Allows you to make and receive phone calls from your WHOI phone number using your computer. Jabber also gives you the ability to chat (instant message), share screens, and lookup contact info of anyone at the Institution. Jabber is accessible off campus without a VPN connection.
    • TIP: Install Jabber today on your home workstation, laptop, and cell phone

Virtual meeting and teleconference services

  • Webex - Webex is a virtual meeting and teleconferencing platform that can be accessed from any computer or cellphone. Webex accounts are available free of charge to anyone at the Institution. Webex is accessible off campus without a VPN connection.
    • TIP: Contact the IS help desk to request a Webex account and receive help getting started. WHOI email username/password will be required.

Cloud storage and collaboration resources

  • Google Drive and G SuiteFree file storage and collaboration platform offered by the Institution and supported by IS. Accessible off campus without a VPN connection.
    • TIP: Contact the IS help desk to request a WHOI Google account and receive help getting started. WHOI email username/password will be required.

Email access

  • Outlook Web Application (OWA) - Email client from Microsoft that can be accessed from any web browser.  Outlook is accessible off campus without a VPN connection. DUO is required for two factor authentication.
    • TIP: Test your ability to access email from home.
  • WHOI Webmail – Email client from WHOI that can be accessed from any web browser. WHOI Webmail is accessible off campus without a VPN connection. DUO is required for two factor authentication.
    • TIP: Test your ability to access email from home.

Accessing voicemail from outside WHOI

  • Dial 508-289-2580
    • Press the * symbol
    • Enter your ID (this is your four digit extension)
    • Enter your PIN (If you are accessing your voicemail for the first time enter 1930 as the PIN. After that you will be prompted to change your PIN)

Zoom resources from WHOI Information Services

Information Services has received a number of inquiries from the user community related to Zoom audio and video conferencing. In response to these requests, IS has put together a page of resources and quick how-to videos. Note: You must use VPN to access this page.

Adding security to your remote computer

Working from home creates many security risks for computer users. We expect that there will be an increase in phishing and hacking attacks, as well as malware on what appear to be legitimate web sites. Everyone should complete the cybersecurity training on WHOI’s staff training website. Along with training and awareness, there are other steps you should take.

  1. Be sure your computer operating system and software applications are updated to the latest versions with the most recent patches.
  2. Download and install Bitdefender Antivirus software from the WHOI Information Services website
  3. Download and install the Mandiant FireEye software agent.

» See detailed instructions on downloading and installing security software

Note: You need to VPN into the WHOI server to access these resources

On-campus computers and server crashes

In the event of a power glitch or other unplanned crash--coordination of and approval for access to buildings to reboot computers or servers should be coordinated through your department chair, unit head, and/or Vice-President who will coordinate with Information Services to help bring your systems back online.

Avoiding phishing scams

IS Security continues to see an increasing amount of phishing email destined for WHOI. As an example, IS has seen messages similar to these:

Example 1:

Your mailbox storage has reached 95% on the email server.

At 100% limit, You will no longer be allowed to send and receive messages until you increase your mailbox storage on the outlook storage access webpage.

Visit the Outlook Storage Access and login to Increase, adjust and maintain your Storage capacity.

Example 2

Confirm Your Account: Email link to malicious site

Please confirm ownership to continue to use and avoid service interruptions.

Confirm your email with confirmation email attached.

Admin © 2020 Administrator Privacy & Terms

Please be aware that Information Services does not send emails referencing email quotas or requesting you to confirm email passwords or email accounts.  Do not respond to any email concerning these issues.

While we are able to block most of these messages, due to increased sophistication and constantly changing formats, a small amount do get delivered to users. Phishing emails are fraudulent messages appearing to come from legitimate sources (e.g., your supervisor, other WHOI staff, your bank). These messages usually direct you to a fake website or otherwise get you to divulge sensitive information that could be used for identity theft, financial gain, or other fraudulent purposes. They may also request that you make a purchase on behalf of the sender (Apple gift cards and rechargeable debit cards are the most common). While phishing emails are purposely designed to look legitimate, there are some basic things to look for:

  • The sender’s address or “reply to” address does not match the company’s domain.
  • The subject line will be alarming or enticing, attempting to get you to act quickly.
  • Phishing emails may contain typos and poor grammar.
  • Hover over links with your mouse without clicking to see if the URL matches the text.
  • The sender requests sensitive information, such as usernames/passwords, Social Security numbers or account numbers, either in an email or by clicking on a link. Legitimate organizations would never request this information via email.
  • Verify all suspicious or unexpected attachments by phone with the sender or contact the IS Helpdesk before opening.

If you are suspicious about any email you receive, please contact the IS Help Desk at extension 2439.  For additional information on phishing, please see the info sheets here and here.

External information and resources

Resources from Blue Cross Blue Shield

For our employees and dependents who are participants through WHOI BCBS plans, guidelines have been developed that will be important to read so you can understand additional services available to you through your health plan. Effective immediately, Blue Cross will:

  • Cover the full cost of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 for all our fully insured members who meet CDC guidelines for testing.  Self-insured customers will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion, but any medically necessary coronavirus testing will be covered for all associates who are BCBSMA members.
  • Consistent with the guidance issued Friday by the Massachusetts Department of Insurance, we will also cover the cost of vaccination when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, and waive co-payments for medically necessary COVID-19 treatment at doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and urgent care centers.
  • Remove any administrative barriers, such as prior authorizations and referrals, for members receiving medically appropriate care for COVID-19
  • Waive co-pays for members with access to Well Connection, our telehealth platform. Telehealth offers convenience as well as the opportunity to avoid potential exposure to contagion. Our 24/7 nurse hotline also is available free to all members and offers a safe and convenient clinical resource for minor ailments or questions
  • Increase access to prescription medications. Members will have access to early refills of 30-day prescription maintenance medication. We will ensure formulary flexibility if there are shortages or access issues.
  • Educate and inform the public about how to contain the spread of the virus. As you know, we have launched a resource center that includes information about how to stay safe, a downloadable tip sheet for employers, a video featuring one of our physicians, and an FAQ. Our health news site, Coverage, produces timely, original news articles reporting what health consumers need to know about COVID-19.
  • Relative to the pneumonia vaccine, we cover pneumococcus injections for all ages.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is coordinating with other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans around the country to ensure that members have access to testing and treatment regardless of where they live. Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines along with other federal recommendations and will continue to support and protect the health and well-being of members and the community.

Guidance and policies from official and state authorities and partner organizations

To see the latest policies and guidance, refer to the following websites