Meharry Employee COVID-19 Information

In our desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the college is providing some everyday health and preparedness steps that will help us prevent workplace and communal exposure to COVID-19.

Overview of COVID-19

 

In December 2019, Chinese officials confirmed cases of pneumonia associated with a “novel,” or new, strain of a type of virus called a “coronavirus.” Disease caused by this virus (COVID-19) has been reported in many countries, including the United States.

 

What is the source?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.

 

What are the symptoms and complications?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

 

This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.

 

How does the virus spread?

The new vaccines are being distributed according to public health priorities. In the meantime, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.

 

Click here to visit the COVID-19 Data Visualization website >

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Unexplained cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Chills or shaking chills
  • Muscle aches not related to physical exercise or activity
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Unexplained diarrhea
  • Congestion or runny nose

If you are a Meharry employee, stay at home and call the COVID-19 Hotline at 615-327-6093, M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you experience symptoms beyond these hours, contact your primary physician or local emergency room.

 

If you are not a Meharry employee call the Nashville COVID-19 Hotline at 615-862-7777.

If you believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19

If a colleague or classmate has tested positive and you have been contacted for testing

  • The person tested will self-isolate and contact tracing will begin, if positive.
  • Students or employees who have had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer) of a person suspected or confirmed COVID-19
    • Quarantine at home for a period of 14 days from their last exposure to that individual. A negative COVID test does not affect this quarantine requirement.
  • Follow the guidance provided by Student and Employee Health.

If you are a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • If your COVID-19 testing was not done by Student and Employee Health (SEH), submit your test results to that office by emailing them to SHS@mmc.edu.
  • Students and employees with positive COVID-19 test results and who have no symptoms:
    • Individuals will be monitored by SEH and HR or SEH and their respective school.
    • Individuals should self-isolate in their residences for 10 days from the testing date.
    • During the period of isolation students should contact their instructors for guidance on how to continue their studies and other academic activities.
    • During the period of isolation employees should contact their supervisors and HR for guidance on how to continue their work and clearance to return to work, if they are working in person.
    • Individuals must be retested for COVID-19 on day 10 or 11 following their perceived date of exposure to COVID-19.
      • Individuals who do not know the date of exposure, must be retested on day 10 or 11 following the date of the initial test.
    • Following the period of self-isolation, individuals must receive one negative test result before returning to their academic, research, clinical, or office work.
    • Individuals who have questions or who develop symptoms during the period of isolation should contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 615-327-6093.
  • Students and employees with positive COVID-19 test results and who are symptomatic:
    • Individuals will be monitored and managed by SEH and HR or SEH and their respective school.
    • Individuals should self-isolate in their residences for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms AND must be fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) AND have improvement in symptoms for at least 24 hours..
    • During the period of isolation students should contact their instructors for guidance on how to continue their studies and other academic activities.
    • During the period of isolation employees should contact their supervisors and HR for guidance on how to continue their work and clearance to return to work, if they are working in person.
    • Individuals must be tested for COVID-19 on day 10 or 11 following the onset of symptoms.
    • Individuals must receive one negative test result and have no symptoms of COVID-19 for 72 hours without medication, before returning to their academic, research, clinical, or office work.
    • Students and Employees whose symptoms persist beyond 14 days:
      • May return to academic, research, clinical, or office work after receiving two negative test results (even though the symptoms may not have abated) as long as a fever is not present.
      • Cannot return to work at an Assessment site until they have received two negative test results and are asymptomatic.

Contact Student and Employee Health if you have additional questions about testing or returning to work.

If you have a case of COVID-19 reported in your office or suite

  1. Individual is tested for COVID-19 by Student and Employee Health (SEH). This person is also referred to as the “target person.”
  2. After testing, Student and Employee Health (SEH) sends to the target person notification that: 1) they are clear to return to work, or 2) they are to self-isolate.
  3. A copy of that same document is also sent to the supervisor of that individual.
  4. Protocol for target persons who have been cleared to return to work:
    1. Target person may continue their activities on campus.
  5. Protocol for target persons who have not been cleared to return to work:
    1. Student and Employee Health (SEH) will initiate contact tracing.
    2. Target person must follow protocols established in “If you are a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
    3. The supervisor will instruct all persons who share a working space, office, or suite with the target person to immediately leave the area and work from home until the area has been sanitized.
      1. If co-workers in the office or suite have had contact with the target person they will be contacted by Student and Employee Health (SEH) for the purpose of scheduling a time to be tested for COVID-19.
    4. If the target person has a physical space that is located within a suite, the entire suite will be vacated until sanitization of the entire area has been completed.
    5. The supervisor will contact Campus Operations to schedule sanitization of the space using the Campus Operations COVID-19 protocols. Note: the person’s name will not be included on the notification, only the location of the physical space on campus. The supervisor will help Campus Operations identify the exact areas to be sanitized.
    6. Campus Operations in consultation with the Environmental Health and Safety Officer (615-327-6642) and the Chemical and Biosafety Officer (in case of a research laboratory) of the College will initiate sanitization of the infected area using the Campus Operations COVID-19 protocols.
    7. Student and Employee Health (SEH) will forward a copy of the notification to the Executive Vice President (EVP) and to Human Resources.
  6. Persons may return to work in their physical spaces once sanitization of the area has been completed. Please see the tables below for additional details.

Remember to keep up the habits that help prevent COVID-19 infection:

  • Maintain social distancing—putting 6 feet of space between you and others in your daily interactions (to minimize any aerosol infection).
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue away in a receptacle and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wear a mask when in public and while at work and around others.
  • Avoid social gatherings, particularly if you cannot maintain a distance of 6 ft or more.
  • Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. Take extra precautions if traveling with other members of the public. Be mindful of hot spots and areas of increased risk for transmission.
  • Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

Return to Work Practices and Work Restrictions

  • After returning to work, health care personnel should:
    • Wear eye protection in addition to the standard face mask for source control at all times while in a Meharry facility or testing site until all symptoms are completely resolved or at baseline.
    • Self-monitor for symptoms and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if symptoms recur or worsen.
  • Non-clinical employees and students must continue to adhere to CDC guidance of social distance and wear face covering.

Effective December 1, 2020

As national response and guidance to COVID-19 evolves, the College will continue to monitor the updates and keep Meharrians abreast of CDC recommendations and apply changes as necessary.

Please report to Student & Employee Health (“SEH”) at 615.327.6093, and your respective Schools or to SEH and Human Resources if you are an employee and experience one of the following:

  • You have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19
  • You have been tested for COVID-19 and awaiting results
  • You are required to self-isolate or quarantine per College or physician direction

All Meharrians who develop COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to stay home and get tested.

Employees who believe they were exposed to COVID-19 and do NOT experience symptoms may continue to work from home but are encouraged to get tested. If your position does not allow you to work from home, please do not come to work. Please contact SEH and HR to determine your next steps. Students should contact Academic Affairs in their respective schools in addition to SEH for next steps.

Prior to receiving test results, employees who wish to voluntarily quarantine should contact their immediate supervisor and will be required to use their available sick/annual leave for any absences, if unable to telecommute. Human Resources will require documentation from a health care provider before approving any paid administrative leave related to COVID-19.

Please note, all Meharrians who have tested positive will be required to submit a clearance to return to work. CDC recommendations regarding effective self-isolation practices can be found at this link.

Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with COVID-19-SARS-CoV-2

As of August 10, 2020, the CDC provided updated guidance for healthcare personnel (HCP)

  • For HCP with severe to critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised, the recommended duration for work exclusion was changed to at least 10 days and up to 20 days after symptom onset.
  • Recommendation to consider consultation with infection control experts.
  • Added hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant to severely immunocompromised condition

Return to Work Criteria for HCP with COVID-19-SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Symptom-based strategy for determining when HCP can return to work.

HCP with mild to moderate illness who are not severely immunocompromised:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved

Note: HCP who are not severely immunocompromised and were asymptomatic throughout their infection may return to work when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test.

HCP with severe to critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised:

  • At least 10 days and up to 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
  • Consider consultation with infection control experts

Note: HCP who are severely immunocompromised but who were asymptomatic throughout their infection may return to work when at least 10 days and up to 20 days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test.

Test-Based Strategy for Determining when HCP Can Return to Work.

Following CDC guidance Meharry, in certain circumstances, may consider a test-based strategy to allow HCP to return to work earlier than if the symptom-based strategy were used. However, as described in the CDC Decision Memo, updated October 19, 2020, many individuals will have prolonged viral shedding, limiting the utility of this approach. A test-based strategy could also be considered for some HCP (e.g., those who are severely immunocompromised) in consultation with local infectious diseases experts if concerns exist for the HCP being infectious for more than 20 days.

The criteria for the test-based strategy are:

HCP who are symptomatic:

HCP who are not symptomatic:

    • Results are negative from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens) tested using an FDA-authorized molecular viral assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. See Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

 

Return to Work Practices and Work Restrictions

After returning to work, HCP should:

  • Wear eye protection in addition to the standard face mask for source control at all times while in a Meharry facility or testing site until all symptoms are completely resolved or at baseline.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if symptoms recur or worsen.

Non-clinical employees and students must continue to adhere to CDC guidance of social distance and wear face covering.

Preventing Illness

 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

What to do if you are sick

 

The situation is rapidly evolving and recommendations from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State change daily. Members of the Meharry Medical College (MMC) community are encouraged to monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.

 

Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

 

MMC faculty, staff and students should contact the Employee (Student) Health Center, for further evaluation. The CDC has issued information regarding symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

 

All Meharry Medical Group (MMG) health care providers, including the Employee (Student) Health Center, will assess patients for potential COVID-19 infection. Those with cough and fever will be asked for a travel history to determine if they are at risk for the newly identified coronavirus. Patients who respond “yes” to these questions will be masked to protect other patients as the cause of their illness is being evaluated.

Will MMC remain open?

  • Yes, campus remains open.

 

What is the college doing to ensure teaching continues?

  • Based on current information, classes will continue without interruption. There will be constant monitoring of information form the CDC and the U.S. Department of State.
  • All didactic courses that do not have a lab component will be provided via an online/asynchronous format. Clinical rotations and labs will continue as usual.

 

Are campus events canceled?

  • Based on current information, classes will continue without interruption. There will be constant monitoring of information form the CDC and the U.S. Department of State.

 

What is MMC instructing those returning to the Unites States from heavily affected countries such as mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy to do?

  • Consistent with CDC guidance, MMC is instructing those community members to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

What are the instructions for those who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected, or exhibits symptoms consistent with, COVID- 19 infection?

  • Any individual who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19 or who exhibits symptoms consistent with, COVID-19 infection should self-isolate and notify the college in order to receive healthcare monitoring and support. For additional information on how to gauge your risk of COVID-19 infection, see the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.

 

How is MMC assisting community members who self- isolate?

  • The college will work with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period. Staff should contact the HR department to discuss how to find the appropriate solution so that they can self-isolate. Faculty should contact their dean to seek assistance while they must remain away from work. Postdocs should contact their dean and faculty advisor for assistance.

 

What office should I contact if I am worried about my health?

  • Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. MMC students should contact the Student Health Center, while faculty and staff should contact the Employee Health Clinic, for further evaluation.

 

I’m worried about someone who might be sick or might have been exposed to COVID- 19. What should I do?

  • If the person is a student, encourage them to consult with the Student Health Center. If they are a faculty or staff member, they should consult with the Employee Health Center. The CDC also advises that many of the same precautions recommended when protecting oneself against the flu, can help prevent COVID-19 infection.

 

Whom should I contact if I am feeling anxious, have experienced losses, or am struggling to cope and to come to terms with the impact of the COVID-19?

  • Students may contact their respective Dean’s office for support. Faculty and staff can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for assistance:
  • Toll Free Number: 1-800-523-5688
  • TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006

 

If I have experienced harassment or bias related to concerns about the virus, who should I contact?

  • MMC is committed to creating and sustaining a safe and inclusive campus community. Faculty, staff and students should not hesitate to contract the Office of General Counsel/Corporate Compliance Office or HR to file a report about such conduct.

 

Travel

What changes has Meharry made to faculty, staff and student travel abroad in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?

  • MMC is suspending all college-sponsored l travel until further notice.

 

What is considered “College-sponsored travel?”

College-sponsored travel includes, but is not limited to:

  • Travel on MMC-related business,
  • Travel that relates to an employee’s professional interests and positions, such as board or other professional organization roles,
  • Travel paid in full or in part by MMC,
  • Travel organized, endorsed and/or sponsored by MMC or organizations associated with MMC such as student clubs, or
  • Travel that involves academic credit granted by MMC.

 

Does this rule apply to personal travel?

  • The college strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel to any country with a CDC Level 3 or State Department Level 4 advisory based on the novel coronavirus.

Prospective Travelers (College and Personal)

 

MMC is suspending all college-sponsored travel until further notice. *Any travel that is covered by or reimbursable from college funds is considered college sponsored.

 

The college strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel abroad at this time. Anyone returning from international travel will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning campus.

 

The list of affected countries and the warning level is dynamic. We encourage you to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC websites.

 

International travel is more difficult than usual as a result of COVID-19. Due to public health measures, travelers may encounter delays or other difficulties at the U.S. port of entry or at the port of entry of another country. Travelers should also ensure they have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of their trip.

 

 

Conference / Meeting Cancellations

 

Some MMC travelers are reporting that conferences and meetings for which they planned travel are being canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

 

Many airlines have altered flight schedules and capacity to highly affected areas for both domestic and international destinations. Some have begun to offer refund/booking options.

Returning Travelers

 

Consistent with CDC guidance, Meharry is instructing all community members and visitors returning to the United States from mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

Any individual who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19 or who exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection should also self-isolate.

 

Additionally, those who need to self-isolate should notify the college in order to receive health care monitoring and support and to protect the health and safety of our community.

 

The self-isolation guidance may change quickly, so please stay informed. For additional information on how to gauge your risk of COVID-19 infection, see the CDC website.

 

The college will work with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period.

 

Important details regarding self-isolation procedures:

  • Faculty, staff and students: All should contact their dean or supervisor to seek assistance while they must remain away from work or academic studies.
  • Campus Residents: Campus residents who have traveled to China, South Korea, Iran or Italy within the past 14 days should self-isolate and contact Campus Housing at least 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus.

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer resources for you to stay current. See the following for the latest status and recommendations.

  • Department of Health website
  • COVID-19 Public Information Hotline: (877) 857-2945, available daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

CDC information for:

 

If you are an MMC/MMG employee or patient with fever, cough or shortness of breath and are concerned about the coronavirus, call (615)327-6093 to be assessed.

 

On Campus

Those with questions or concerns about coronavirus infection should contact the following:

 

Support for the Meharry Community

Services are available to support mental health and well-being during this time.

 

Other Resources

Meharry Medical College’s Policy & Procedure on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students

 

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) (HEERF I)

 

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) (HEERF II)

 

American Rescue Plan (ARP) (HEERF III)

HEERF I

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Section 18004(c) of the Cares Act requires Meharry Medical College to use at least fifty (50%) percent of the funds received to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID 19 (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

 

Upon receipt of the Grant Award Notification (GANS) from the U.S. Department of Education, Meharry Medical College promptly made available emergency financial aid grants as funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act directly to students enrolled in the spring 2020 semester for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID 19, (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care) as required by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act. Meharry Medical College did not use the funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to, any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefit previously issued to students.

 

  • Meharry Medical College acknowledged it has signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement for funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

  • The total amount of funds Meharry Medical College received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students was $109,988.

  • The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter) was $109,988.

  • The estimated total number of students at Meharry Medical College eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was 750.

 

Student Eligibility

Eligibility requirement as of April 24, 2020

  1. Students must be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). For purposes of disbursal of these funds, the College will base determination of eligibility on the existence of the student’s 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  2. Student must be enrolled at least half time.

  3. Students must be United States citizens.

  4. Student must be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress.

 

Consistent with Section 18004(c), Meharry Medical College retained discretion to:

  1. Determine the amount of each individual Emergency Financial Aid Grant consistent with all applicable laws, including non-discrimination laws.

  2. Prescribe the methodology for distribution of funds across the student population.

 

The CARES Act student emergency funding was managed by the Director of Financial Aid. As encouraged by the Secretary of Education in the Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for CARES Act Funding, “the Director of Financial Aid will exercise the use of professional judgment available under Section 479A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), 20 U.S.C § 1087tt, to determine need and eligibility for receipt of CARES Act student emergency grants.”

 

The College awarded student emergency grants on the basis of need and upon certification (by each grantee/student) of allowable use as defined by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act and consistent with this policy.

 

The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, does not consider these individual Emergency Financial Aid Grants to constitute Federal Financial Aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). The emergency financial aid funds were not used for any purpose other than the direct payments of grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Meharry Medical College promptly complied with Section 18004(e) of the CARES Act and report to the Secretary, when required, in accordance with 2 CFR 200.333 through 2 CFR 200.337, or in other additional form as the Secretary may specify.

 

Meharry Medical College reported:

  • how grants were distributed to students,

  • the amount of each grant awarded to each student,

  • how the amount of each grant was calculated, and

  • any instructions or directions given to students about the grants

 

Meharry Medical College distributed all the funds in the form of emergency financial aid grants to students within twelve (12) months from the date of the signed Certificate and Agreement. Students interested in applying for the emergency grant funds had to complete an application form prior to the release of their Emergency Financial Aid Grant Funds. A committee was developed to assist in reviewing the applications. The committee reviewed the application, along with the submitted documentation to determine eligibility. Due to the small allocation, guidelines were put in place to award students on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority consideration will be given to currently enrolled students whose future enrollment may be affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Funds were disbursed to students who submitted completed forms indicating and certifying that funds were to be used for allowable expenses as outlined by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act. Students not submitting required supporting documentation with their application were not considered for the emergency financial grants. The Office of Financial Aid and the committee reviewed and approved all submitted certification forms prior to disbursal of funds. The Financial Services and Accounts Payable Offices processed the payments of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to each student in the same manner in which credit balances are processed for Title IV aid. At no time were any emergency grant funds used by the College to offset existing student account balances, nor future student account charges. Funds were disbursed directly to individual students, in the form of a check or electronic fund transfer payment.

 

Application Process

An application was created via Wofoo (https://mmcstudentlife.wufoo.com/forms/w1j6tfxo10db3zz/) and disseminated, via the Meharry e-mail system on April 27, 2020, to the entire student body at Meharry. All students were instructed to apply, attach documentation and submit by May 6, 2020. Due to the small allocation, it was decided to award said grant funds on a first-come, first-served basis based on the student’s request. It was determined, based on the allocation and to assist as many students as possible, the grant funds would be capped at $1,500 and the reasons would be narrowed down, i.e. 4th year students requesting moving expenses would not be funded; students who did not attach documentation for the request, would not considered; credit card bills, car payments, car insurance payments, etc. would not be included. It was a difficult decision to narrow down the application approval, due to all students had already received federal funds to cover their requests.

 

After the applications were received, following USDE’s guidelines, the Committee reviewed each application and assigned an amount, based on the student’s request.

 

Update:

The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, during the first round of funding was 121.

 

The total allocation, for the first round of the CARES Act funds have been awarded and disbursed to all eligible recipients. There are no remaining grant funds available.

 

January 2022 – Additional funds for HEERF I

The Department of Education granted additional HEERF I funds for the student portion to Meharry Medical College’s GAN award, P425E201458, totaling $491,158, to be used as emergency financial aid grants.

To begin the application process, an application was created in Google using forms – Meharry Medical College Additional CARES Act (HEERF I) funds was emailed to students on January 28, 2022, via Meharry’s email system, Outlook. Students were instructed to complete the application in its entirety and submit by Friday, February 4, 2022.

 

Student Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for the second round of HEERF I funds, as of January 28, 2022

  1. Students must be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). For purposes of disbursal of these funds, the College will base determination of eligibility on the existence of the student’s 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  2. Student must be enrolled at least half time.

  3. Students must be United States citizens.

  4. Student must be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress.

 

These funds were awarded based on an application process. All students were considered for funding if all criteria were met and application was completed, without errors. Using the same analogy to determine the maximum amount of the grant funds to be awarded as used with the HEERF III funds, up to $2,000 per student was the award amount. The emergency financial aid grant amount was derived by using the cost of attendance components:

 

Rent – average in Nashville is $1,678

Utilities – $167.37

Food – $200

Students were advised to use these emergency financial aid grants to help meet urgent, basic needs such as:

Tuition/Fees

Food (Board)

Housing (Room)

Health care (including mental health care)

Child care expenses

 

After the application process closed on February 4, 2022, staff in the Financial Aid Office reviewed all submitted applications. 536 students submitted the HEERF I second round of funding application. The applications were numbered in the Google form based on the time and date the application was submitted. After reviewing each form, those students that did not meet the criteria was excluded from the final selection process. Fifty-three (53) students with the following criteria were excluded:

  • Non- U. S. citizens

  • Students who did not complete a 2021-22 FAFSA

  • Students not making SAP (i.e. gpa below the school’s required gpa)

  • Students who completed the application incorrectly, i.e. did not sign the application in the appropriate field, etc.

 

It was decided to award the HEERF I funds to the remaining eligible 484 students. The funds were awarded based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from their 2021-22 FAFSA. There were 338 students with an $0 EFC. These students received a $2,000 emergency financial aid grant. There were 5 students who had an EFC of $1 to $500. These students were given an extra $400, totaling $1,731 to $1,732 and the remaining 141 students, with EFCs ranging $501 or above, were awarded the remaining funds in equal disbursements, i.e. $1,331, each. After the process had closed and students had been selected, Request For Disbursement (RFD) forms was created and forwarded to Accounts Payable for processing on Thursday, February 17, 2022. Funds were direct deposited into the eligible students’ preferred bank accounts, beginning March 9, 2022.

  • The total amount of additional funds Meharry Medical College received from the Department of Education was $381,170. An additional $491,158 was transferred from the Institutional portion of the HEERF I funds to match the total allotment of grant funds received for emergency financial aid grants. Making the total allocation for awards for the second round of HEERF I funds $872,328.

  • The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was $982,316.

  • The total number of students at Meharry Medical College eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was 867.

  • The total number of students who received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, during the second round of funding was 484, making the total number of students receiving HEERF I emergency financial aid grants, 605.

HEERF II (CRRSAA) and III (ARP)

CRRSAA: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II)

ARP: American Rescue Plan (HEERF III)

 

Meharry Medical College (MMC) is committed to ensuring our students are able to make progress towards graduation. MMC was issued additional supplemental funding from the U.S. Department of Education, which requires the same assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than the amount awarded for HEERF I under the HEERF II award and at least fifty (50) percent of the HEERF III funds received under Section 314(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students on are after March 13, 2020, the date of the declaration of the national emergency. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) is authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) (Pub. L. 117-2). The ARP appropriated approximately $39.6 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and represents the third stream of funding appropriated for HEERF to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Taken together, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Pub. L. 116–136), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (Pub. L. 116-260), and the ARP represent HEERF I, HEERF II, and HEERF III, respectively.

 

HEERF III is structured like the HEERF II programs under the CRRSAA, with certain important differences that will be discussed within these FAQs. These FAQs are intended to describe the features and allowable uses of grants received under the HEERF I, II and III programs and may be updated with additional information in the future.

 

Institutions have expanded flexibility in their use of supplemental Institutional Portion funds (CFDA 84.425F) that includes defraying expenses associated with coronavirus, carrying out student support activities authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), that address needs related to coronavirus, and making additional financial aid grants to students.

 

CRRSAA section 314(c)(2) allows an institution to spend its CRRSAA funds on student support activities authorized by the HEA, where student support activities address needs related to the coronavirus. The CRRSAA section 314(d)(2) allows institutions expanded use of funds authority for unexpended CARES Act funds. HEERF grants for students may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

 

Eligibility Requirements For a Student To Receive HEERF Grant Funds

According to the HEERF funding and guidance from the Department of Education, the following factors played a pivotal role in MMC’s decision for awarding these funds:

 

HEERF II and III requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, for example, but not limited to, such as students who receive or may have been eligible to receive Pell Grants. Based on the fact that MMC’s students are Independent students and not Pell grant eligible, MMC decided to select exceptionally financial needy students based on using their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from their 2021-22 FAFSA results. To fall within this category, students must have received an $0 EFC on their FAFSA.

 

Unlike the CARES Act, the CRRSAA does not require that 50% of an institution’s funds be spent on student grants. It does, however, require that institutions spend at least the same dollar amount on student grants as they were required to spend under the CARES Act.

 

The ARP (HEERF III) funds require that 50% of an institution’s funds be spent on student grants, with the exception of for-profit institutions, which must spend 100% of their funds on student grants.

 

Grant Funds Can Be Used For The Following Types Of Needs

A portion of the HEERF grant funds were used to provide emergency financial grants to help students meet urgent, basic needs such as:

 

Tuition/Fees

Food (Board)

Housing (Room)

Health care (including mental health care)

Child care expenses

 

Awarding Methodology

Meharry Medical College provided emergency financial aid grants to eligible students for expenses related to the increased cost of living in Nashville and any disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare). Using DOE’s clarified “student” definition, Meharry considered any individual who was enrolled at the institution in the fall 2021 semester would qualify for assistance under the HEERF programs, which included citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, DREAMers, and similar undocumented students, in the awarding of HEERF emergency financial aid grants.

 

Based on a transparent process of awarding the emergency financial aid grant funds, Meharry elected to award funds to all enrolled students due to the significant increase in living expenses in Nashville, TN and unexpected increased educational costs, during the pandemic, regardless of whether the student completed a FAFSA or was eligible for federal Title IV student aid.

 

Cost of attendance components considered in arriving at the $10,000 emergency financial aid grant:

 

Fall 2021 semester (5 months) – (July 2021 through December 2021)

Rent – average in Nashville is $1,678 (COA budget allows $1,250)

Utilities – $167.37

Food – $200

 

MMC had 957 enrolled, registered students who were deemed eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid grants under the HEERF III allocation when the awards were made on November 22, 2021. Eligible students had to be enrolled at the time when the grants were awarded. This did not include those students who had taken a leave of absence or those that had withdrawn or had been administratively withdrawn, within the semester. All eligible students were considered when making awards and no application was required. Students received $10,000 each, with an additional $2,000 going to approximately 618 students who displayed exceptional financial need, based on $0 EFC from their most recently filed FAFSA. Total emergency financial aid grants awarded is estimated to be $10,806,000.

  • An Argos report was used to pull all eligible students to be awarded the emergency financial aid grants

  • An Excel spreadsheet was used to capture all eligible students

  • Request for Disbursement (RFD) form was used to document each student and the amount of funds they received. Nine (9) to ten (10) students were included on each RFD

  • Once the RFDs had been completed, they were forwarded to Accounts Payable for processing

  • Each student was entered into Banner student system. Those who had set up direct deposit through Financial Aid had their emergency financial aid grant funds disbursed into their bank accounts as early as Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Those who elected to pick up paper checks, were instructed beginning Wednesday, November 24, 2021 to frequent the Cashier’s window, LRC Building, 5th floor for disbursement.

  • All funds have been disbursed and paper checks disseminated.

 

The Office of the President sent out an additional email blast to the students to remind them of how the emergency financial aid grant funds were to be used. Students was advised to use the grant funds for any component of their cost of attendance or for emergency costs that may arise or have arisen due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or childcare espenses.

 

Tuition-related Reduction Payments and Outstanding Student Account and Housing Balances Initiatives for the HEERF II and III Funding Awarding Methodology

As it relates to the tuition-related reduction payments and outstanding student account and housing balances, Meharry decided to assist enrolled students, as of the March 2020 begun date of the pandemic, who had outstanding student account balances and those enrolled students who had borrowed federal loans to pay tuition expenses, with a tuition reduction loan payment. No additional money will be released to students in hand. The grant will be used to exclusively pay outstanding student account balances with a financial aid grant and grant funds will be used to make a payment on students’ outstanding loan debt. This decision was the result to assist in reducing the loan debt that Meharry students incur over the matriculation of their health professions education. Meharry Medical College elected to provide a tuition-related reduction payment toward outstanding debt to enrolled 2021-22 students who had borrowed financial aid, in the form of a federal student loan, to support their tuition educational activities while attending Meharry, during the fall 2021 through spring 2022 semesters. This payment will not be awarded to self-pay students, or those students who had their tuition paid through third-party agencies.

 

The tuition-related reduction payment will cover up to fifty percent (50%) of the total tuition costs for students in the School of Medicine (SOM), School of Applied Computational Sciences (SACS), School of Graduate Studies and Research (SGSR), which includes Masters of Health Sciences (MHS), Masters of Public Health (MPH/MSPH). It was decided since the School of Dentistry (SOD) students have a higher cost of attendance and incur the highest loan debt, their tuition-related reduction payment will encompass up to seventy-five percent (75%) of their total tuition costs. The amount of the tuition-related reduction loan payment will be based on the amount of tuition the students were assessed in the fall 2021 through spring 2022 semesters. If students were assessed at a tuition rate less than the half amount of the tuition charge, the tuition-related reduction payment will cover the actual amount of the tuition charged, or the amount of loan they borrowed. If they did not borrow loans that total the amount of their tuition charge, the tuition-related grant will be reduced to the amount of the loan the student borrowed.

 

Outstanding student account and housing balances totals were received from the Office of Financial Services and dated back to cover balances for students enrolled as of March 2020. No account balances were included for balances that predated the March 2020 spring semester.

 

Final figures will be updated once all the tuition-related reduction loan payments and outstanding student and housing balances’ financial grants have been awarded, posted to the students’ Banner accounts and the funds sent to their respective lenders. It is anticipated, these funds will assist approximately 800 students.

 

Eligibility criteria

Tuition-related Reduction Loan Payments (HEERF II and III)

  • Must have been enrolled in the fall 2021 through spring 2022 semesters, or in the fall 2021 semester, alone, in a degree-granting program; Those who have withdrawn, taken a ‘leave of absence,’ were ‘administratively withdrawn’, were enrolled in an away research experience, or were previously enrolled, etc. are not eligible;

  • Must have borrowed and received federal loans to pay their fall 2021 and spring 2022 tuition. (The amount of the tuition reduction payment will not exceed the amount of tuition the student was charged in the fall 2021);

  • Must not have received tuition payment through a third-party service grant*;

  • Cannot be self-pay student.

  • Funds were awarded if students had federal loan debt, only, private loans were not considered

 

*If student is awarded a third-party service grant after the HEERF funds have been awarded, posted and returned to the lender, the HEERF funds grant will not be retracted.

 

Outstanding Student Account and Housing Balances (HEERF III)

Were enrolled when the pandemic hit, March 2020

 

Had an outstanding student account and/or housing balance on Meharry’s books (roster of students obtained from the Student Accounts Office in Financial Services)

 

The below chart shows the total amount of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF I, II and III) that the institution will receive or has received from the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to the institution’s Certifications and Agreements for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (Student Portion), Institutional Portion and the HBCU-Emergency Relief Fund.

 

Program Name CFDA # Award Number Award Amount Amount
Received by Institution
Amount Disbursed to Students by
Institution
Amount Disbursed to
Institution
CARES Act (HEERF I) – Students 84.425E P425E201458 $491,158 $491,158 $491,158 $0
CARES Act (HEERF I) – Institutional 84.425F P425F200945 $564,033 $564,033 $491,158 $72,875
CRRSAA – (HEERF II) (must award same amount of emergency grants as awarded under CARES Act) 84.425J P425J200117 $20,000,000 $20M $9,127,593
ARP – HEERF III (at least 50% for student support) 84.425F P425F200946 $36,000,000 $36M $23,682,081

 

 

Updated FAQs

Is it a Taxable Event if the School uses HEERF Funds to pay off, write off, or discharge a Student’s Outstanding Balance?

This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on February 11, 2022 to include long-awaited IRS guidance related to Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I) student grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), HEERF II student grants under the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, Section 314 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and HEERF III grants under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

 

Scenario: Schools are using their institutional HEERF to write off students’ outstanding balances as encouraged by ED, but debt that is discharged is normally a taxable event per general IRS rules.

 

Answer: No. According to the February 11, 2022 IRS Higher Education Emergency Grants Frequently Asked Questions, HEERF I, HEERF II, or HEERF III student or institutional funds used to pay off or discharge a student’s outstanding (or overdue) balance are not taxable. Therefore, educational institutions do not have information reporting requirements under Internal Revenue Code, section 6041 when using HEERF funds to pay off or discharge a student’s overdue balance. These payments are not included in the student’s gross income. Because the payments are not income, section 6041 does not apply to them, and higher education institutions are not required to file or furnish students with IRS Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income.

 

This includes situations when the institution writes-off the outstanding balance and then pays it with HEERF institutional funds. See the IRS FAQs for more information.

Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting Under CARES ACT Sections 18004(A)(1)

Institutional Portion, 18804(S)2, and 18804(A)(3)

Quarter 1 2021 Report
January 1, 2021 – March 30, 2021

 

Quarter 2 2021 Report
April 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021

 

Quarter 3 2021 Report
July 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021

 

Quarter 4 2021 Report
October 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021

 

Quarter 1 2022 Report
January 1, 2022 – March 30, 2022

Comparison Chart
View >

For additional information on the CARES Act, HEERF II and HEERF III funding opportunities, click here.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (HEERF 1)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and provided money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the pandemic.

Coronavirus Response and relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) (HEERF II)

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was signed into law in December 2020. The Act provides $22.7 billion in aid to address higher education challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this amount, $20.2 billion is allocated directly to colleges and universities. Unlike the CARES Act (HEERF I), the bill stipulates that CRRSAA (HEERF II) funding must be prioritized to students with “exceptional need.”

American Rescue Plan (ARP) (HEERF III)

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

ARP funds are in addition to funds authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260 and the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136. Emergency funds available to institutions and their students under all emergency funds total $76.2 billion.

FOR MMC/MMG PATIENTS AND EMPLOYEES

What to do if you are concerned you are ill with COVID-19

 

MMG patients with respiratory illnesses seeking more information about possible COVID-19 infection should call (615) 327-6348 from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. After hours please call 615.327.MD4U.

 

MMG employees with respiratory illnesses seeking more information about possible COVID-19 infection should call (615) 327-6093.

 

Before calling, please consider that if you do not have symptoms and would not ordinarily see your doctor based on how you feel now, you do not need evaluation or testing for COVID-19.

 

At this time, MMG clinicians will not assess patients for COVID-19 who are not exhibiting symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.

 

If you do go to a clinic with fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call ahead so that our staff can meet you with a mask for your safety and the safety of other patients and our staff.

Latest information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/index.html

Meharrians:

 

As we find ourselves in uncharted territory in the wake of COVID-19, it is understandable there may be concerns about HIPAA compliance and the COVID-19 pandemic. There may be confusion about what information can be shared about an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, those suspected of exposure to the virus, and those with whom data can be shared. Please be reminded that the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules still apply. The Security Rule is in place to ensure the security of patients’ protected health information (PHI) and requires safeguards to be implemented to protect disclosure.

 

However, effective March 15, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a limited HIPAA waiver intended to relax the following Privacy Rules:

  • The requirements to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care – 45 CFR 164.510(b)
  • The requirement to honor a request to opt-out of the facility directory – 45 CFR 164.510(a);
  • The requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices – 45 CFR 164.520
  • The patient’s right to request privacy restrictions – 45 CFR 164.522(a)
  • The patient’s right to request confidential communications – 45 CFR 164.522(b)

 

So, what does this mean? The HIPAA waiver allows disclosure of PHI, as it relates to the COVID-19, without first receiving authorization from a patient for treatment purposes. It is also permissible to share PHI with public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others responsible for ensuring the safety of the public, such as state and local health departments. Finally, disclosures of PHI is permitted to prevent and lessen a serious and imminent threat to a specific person or the public. A provider should use their discretion and professional judgment when determining whom to notify (i.e., staff, leadership, patient’s family) if a patient tests positive for COVID-19 about the nature and the severity of the threat.

 

The HIPAA waiver is applicable for a period of 72 hours from the time the COVID-19 protocol is implemented and only applies to health-related matters associated with COVID-19.

 

As we strive to provide superior patient care during this rapidly changing environment, let us not forget our continuous obligation to patient rights.

 

If you have any questions or concerns related to the limited HIPAA waiver, please contact the Compliance and Risk Management office at 615.327.6780 or compliance@mmc.edu.