Simmons dining worker tests positive for COVID-19

Individuals not contacted by MIT Medical are not known to have risk for contracting COVID-19 from worker

Simmons Hall temporarily closed its dining service the evening of Oct. 1 after a Simmons dining staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

MIT Dining Director Mark Hayes wrote in an email to Simmons residents Oct. 1 that the staff member “worked in the kitchen area and was not involved with serving meals to residents.” The staff member self-isolated and was “responding well” to medical care.

Hayes wrote that MIT Dining and Housing and Residential Services performed a “deep cleaning of all potentially affected spaces in Simmons.” Dinner service for Simmons residents was temporarily moved to Lobdell Dining Hall in the Student Center for the evening following Hayes’ email.

Additionally, MIT Medical contacted all individuals who “may have had close contact with the staff member” and reported the case to public health officials, Hayes wrote. Individuals who “have not heard from MIT Medical” have “no known risk” of contracting COVID-19 “from this case.” 

Hayes wrote in an email to The Tech that “the wellbeing and safety of diners and staff is a top priority for MIT Dining and Bon Appetit.”

Hayes wrote that dining staff members are tested “twice a week” like “students, faculty, and staff.” When working in the kitchens and serving food to students, dining staff “follow federal, state, local,” and MIT guidelines “for reopening restaurant and foodservice operations,” including wearing personal protective equipment, “physical distancing in kitchens and serving areas, and enhanced cleaning protocols.”

Hayes wrote that if additional dining staff members test positive, “the dining operation where they work will close for 24 hours for enhanced cleaning while MIT Medical begins contact tracing and notifies any individuals who have had close contact with the staff member.” Moreover, “meals for the affected community will be served in an alternate location until their dining facility can safely reopen.”

In his email to Simmons residents, Hayes wrote that students should call MIT Medical’s COVID-19 hotline if they are “experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath.” He wrote that MIT community’s compliance of public health measures “have helped keep our campus transmission rate successfully low,” citing recently collected data from MIT COVID-19 testing. According to the MIT COVID Apps Dashboard, MIT has had eight positive cases among 16,177 tests performed in the past seven days.