Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, and Chris Zappe, Provost, update students and employees on policies regarding indoor masking, testing, and visitors.
Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,
Opening our campus safely, bringing our community back together, and providing a dynamic in-person student experience that is as close to normal as possible are the priorities guiding our planning and preparation for the upcoming academic year. It has been wonderful to see students arrive to campus over the past few days and we are looking forward to welcoming all four classes later this month. As we have previously noted, all courses will be in person and we are eager to have the College come alive with students learning, living, performing, and competing on campus.
Today, we write with some important updates regarding our approach to COVID-19.
Our campus will start the semester with a high vaccination rate—we expect that more than 93% of faculty, staff, and students will be fully vaccinated this fall. Given the proven effectiveness of the vaccine, this is the single most important measure in our ability to return to the normal academic and social rhythms that help define our College.
We have also been carefully watching the trajectory of the Delta variant, with a particular focus on its impact in Adams County. As has occurred elsewhere in the country, cases in Adams County have spiked, together with COVID-19 admissions to local hospitals. The county itself has moved into the CDC’s “high transmission” designation. All of this has special relevance to the coming weeks, with the substantial movement in and out of the campus as students and their families come to Gettysburg from around the country.
In response to these considerations, and to advance our overarching goal to have the entire year proceed as normally as possible, we have made a few incremental changes to our COVID-19 policies, with emphasis on our transition back to campus. As always, our decisions have been informed by CDC guidelines and public health experts. We are also proceeding in anticipation that some of these policies will be temporary, and we will continue to actively monitor COVID-19 conditions nationally, regionally, in our community, and on our campus. Our commitment is to evaluate our entire set of COVID-19 policies at least weekly, again with the goal of providing students with as normal an experience as we can, consistent with the public health conditions.
Effective Monday, August 23, all inpiduals—regardless of their vaccination status—will be required to wear a mask while inside campus buildings, with the following exceptions:
- When a vaccinated student is inside a campus house or residence hall. Unvaccinated students are still required to mask in campus housing except while in their assigned room or apartment.
- When an employee is alone in their personal office or workspace.
- When an individual is eating or drinking.
Please note that outdoor masking is not required. Likewise, no capacity limits will be imposed at this time on indoor or outdoor gatherings. We continue to urge you to wear a mask when in town.
We are proceeding with the hope and in anticipation that the indoor masking requirements for vaccinated students and employees will be temporary. To put this decision into further context, by requiring indoor masking in this interim period, Gettysburg joins every Centennial Conference school and many others in moving to masking for the start of the fall semester. We are not alone in taking these precautionary measures.
Unvaccinated students and employees who have not yet shared their vaccination information with HR will now participate in COVID-19 PCR testing every week, rather than the previously announced every other week structure. As we have previously stated, vaccinated students will not be subject to surveillance testing. As always, we are closely monitoring public health guidance and infection rates, and will adapt our testing protocol as data warrants.
During this interim period, visitors and guests (anyone other than a Gettysburg student, faculty member, or staff member) are NOT permitted in residence halls. A one-time exception is being made for families on Move-In Day. Family members assisting with move-in must wear masks indoors, limit their time inside the residence hall, and limit the number of family members in the residence hall to only those essential for move-in. The policy regarding residence hall visitors will also be revisited in the coming weeks.
We recognize how special Move-In Day is for our Gettysburg families. We thank them for their understanding and cooperation as we implement these measures for the safety of our students and employees.
Alert levels and mitigation strategies
We have identified Alert Levels that will help guide our decision-making in terms of relaxing or increasing mitigation strategies. You can view the Alert Levels on the College’s COVID-19 website. We would encourage you to review the website for the latest information. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following these policies will ensure that we can safely bring our community back together, and provide an in-person student experience that is as close to normal as possible.
Thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe and healthy.
Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students