Returning to the School of Dentistry

Guiding Principles

University of Detroit Mercy Detroit Mercy Dental’s policies and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be based on safety for our health care providers, staff, faculty, and students and for safe provision of Dental care to our patients.

The primary goals for Detroit Mercy Dental’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are to protect public health, support patient care and clinical staff, and continue the school’s mission.

Return to Campus

Detroit Mercy Dental’s plans will also be aligned and consistent with local orders and ordinances of the City of Detroit, as well as the State of Michigan’s Phased Reopening Model. Detroit Mercy Dental’s plans will also follow recommendations from the federal government (Opening Guidelines), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

 Our knowledge and understanding of the COVID-19 virus continue to evolve, and our policies and plans will be updated as appropriate as more information becomes available.

Campus Hours

The Detroit Mercy Dental Campus will be open Monday-Friday 6AM-8PM and closed on weekends. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it is essential that the number of individuals on the Detroit Mercy Dental Campus be minimized. Students, faculty and staff may only be on campus when absolutely necessary. Your presence on campus at any time must be approved by a course director, supervisor or dean. Building hours and access polices will be reassessed in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Campus Expectation & Guidelines

All students, faculty and staff are expected to fully comply with the policies, protocols and guidelines outlined in this document as part of Detroit Mercy Dental’s Campus Expectations and Guidelines. Failure to do so may result in corrective action.

Symptom Monitoring Requirement

Students, faculty and staff who have been approved to return to campus must conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to campus. You must be free of ANY of the symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 listed below or have had evaluation and clearance by a medical provider to be eligible to report to campus. All individuals entering the Dental Classroom and Clinic Buildings will pass through a thermal imaging scanner monitored by a Public Safety Officer. Public Safety will deny entry to anyone with a temperature 100°F.  Fever will be verified with an intraoral thermometer. 

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    COVID-19 symptoms include one or more of the following:

    • Fatigue (Feeling abnormally weak or tired)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New GI symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite)
    • Rash (skin lesions on feet or toes, chilblains (COVID toes))


    If you have any symptoms, you should call your primary care provider for assessment of symptoms and COVID-19 testing. You should also wear a face mask to avoid possible virus transmission to others. You should self-isolate until cleared by your primary care provider to return to work.


    COVID-19 Exposure:

    If you have had close contact with a person who has tested positive with COVID-19 you must follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days.

     If you have been confirmed to have COVID-19, are experiencing one or more COVID-19 symptoms, have a fever, or a confirmed COVID-19 exposure, consult the testing guidelines below and notify the following:

    • Dental Hygiene Students: Academic Dean’s Office and Ms. Maureen VanHook, Director, Division of Dental Hygiene
    • Pre-Clinical Dental Students: Academic Dean’s Office and Dr. Swati Chitre or Dr. Joel Felsenfeld, Directors, Division of Practice Essentials and Simulation
    • Clinical Dental Students: Academic Dean’s Office and Clinic Lead
    • Faculty or Staff: Supervisor, Division Director or Dean

    Testing of Faculty, Staff and Students:

    Detroit Mercy Dental is eligible for a limited number of COVID-19 tests through the City of Detroit’s COVID Community Care Network.  Contact Dr. David Fischer, Interim Director, Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences (, Dr. Sanjay Chand (, Director, Infection Control or the Dean’s Office for an approval letter and access code for drive-thru testing at the State Fairgrounds.

     The following individuals will be tested for COVID-19 as a priority:

     Those presenting with fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste/smell

    • Those with a known COVID-19 exposure, especially if from a household member
    • Those displaying other minor illness symptoms
    • Those involved in patient care who live with a front-line worker who treats COVID-19 patients.

     According to the CDC, individuals with certain co-morbidities may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:                

    • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
    • Severe obesity
    • People with HIV
    • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Diabetes
    • Serious heart conditions
    • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
    • Being immunocompromised
    • Taking Immunosuppressants

     If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have a fever or a COVID-19 exposure you must receive clearance from your primary care provider, quarantine for an appropriate period of time and/or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.


    Phased Staffing

    Detroit Mercy Dental will phase in a return of staff over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate social distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing capabilities for COVID-19.

    The school will assess expanded staffing based on critical operations, ability to control and manage specific work environments, and necessity to access on-site resources. These decisions, once approved, will be communicated through your respective Deans.

    The need to reduce the number of people on campus to meet social distancing requirements will continue for some time. Support units that can continue to effectively work remotely will likely continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings.

    Expanded staffing will be tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve. No division or department should increase staffing levels beyond current needs to support critical on-site operations without approval from your respective Dean. Once decisions to expand on-site staffing in certain areas have been made, staff should follow the policies and protocols detailed in this guide for returning to work on campus.

    As staffing on-site increases and operations expand, we will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus, as well as existing policies and procedures to mitigate it. Testing will be a critical part of assessing the impact of increased staffing. If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may need to be implemented again.

Staffing Options

Once staff members are instructed to return to work on-site, social distancing measures must be maintained to the maximum extent possible.

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    Remote Work

    Those who can work remotely to fulfill some, or all their work responsibilities may continue to do so to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. These arrangements, which should be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be done on a full or partial day/week schedule as appropriate.

    Alternating Days

    To limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments should schedule partial staffing on alternating days. Such schedules will help enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.

    Staggered Reporting/Departing

    The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements. (See Enter/Exit Controls for further details).

Personal Protective Equipment

Face masks: FACE MASKS OR CLOTH FACE COVERINGS MUST BE WORN BY ALL STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF WHILE ON CAMPUS WHEN IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHERS, IN COMMON AREAS TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF DROPLETS ONTO SURFACES AND IN PUBLIC SETTINGS WHERE OTHER SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES ARE DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN (E.G., COMMON WORK SPACES, MEETING ROOMS, CLASSROOMS, ETC). Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you, as COVID-19 can spread pre-symptomatically and asymptomatically. You could spread COVID-19 to others before you show signs of illness or even if you never display signs of illness. The mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.

Detroit Mercy Dental will provide appropriate safety guidance for students, faculty and staff engaged in patient care.  Disposable masks will be provided by Detroit Mercy Dental. Students and faculty will be counseled on procedure-appropriate levels of PPE, granted an allotment of N95 masks and trained in mask preservation, disinfection and reuse protocols.

Aerosol mitigation devices will be used during patient care.

Please see PPE guidelines for use of Disposable masks below.

Please see Donning and Doffing video.

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    Putting on the face covering/disposable mask

    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the disposable mask.
    • Ensure the disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
    • Situate the disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
    • Loop around the ears.
    • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the mask

    Taking off the disposable mask

    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the disposable mask.
    • When taking off the disposable mask, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear.
    • Wash hands immediately after removing.

    Care, storage, and sterilization of masks

    • Disposable masks must not be used for more than one patient care activity and should be placed in the trash if it is soiled, damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.
    • N95 masks will be placed in Ziploc bags labeled with the student or faculty member’s name upon completion of daily appointments. You must disinfect the outside of the bag before turning it in at the UV sterilization area.