Anne Ehrlich, Chris Zappe, and Jen Lucas update the students, faculty, and staff about COVID-19 requirements, policies, and procedures for the Spring 2022 semester.
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Dear Campus Community,
We hope this message finds you well and looking forward to the start of a new year and a new semester. We have been actively monitoring the trajectory of the virus and Omicron variant locally and nationally, and write today with important information regarding COVID mitigation strategies for the Spring term. Please read this email very thoroughly.
Semester Will Begin On Campus January 17
Omicron has a high rate of transmission, and overall case counts are spiking nationally. We are seeing increased breakthrough and asymptomatic cases, including here on campus at the end of the fall semester. Yet there is strong evidence that vaccinations provide continued protection in mitigating the impact of infection. You may be seeing examples of other institutions delaying the start of their Spring terms. After careful consideration and consultation with public health experts, we have determined that it is in best interest of our campus community is to begin the Spring semester on campus on January 17 as planned, with an initial period of restriction on in-person classes and activities as we conduct arrival testing. We recognize the extent to which students want to live and learn on campus with their peers and supportive faculty and staff, and that our educational experience is best delivered face-to-face. However, being together as a community during this time will require additional mitigation strategies and shared sacrifice on all of our parts. Those mitigation strategies are outlined below.
Student Booster Requirement
The data shows we can significantly minimize the impact of COVID-19 on ourselves and each other by being fully vaccinated and receiving a booster shot. In keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and consistent with our COVID-19 vaccine requirements that are already in place, all students are required to receive a booster shot within two weeks of becoming eligible. You are eligible for a booster six months after completing the Moderna vaccination, five months after receiving the Pfizer vaccination, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We anticipate this means that the majority of students will be boosted no later than February 15, 2022.
Proof of Booster Vaccination
Students must upload a copy of their vaccination card to Medicat, the College’s HIPPA-compliant electronic medical records system, within five days of receiving the booster. If you will not be eligible for the booster by February 15, please contact Sue Plank in Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with our initial vaccination requirement, students may request religious or medical exemption consideration. Students who were granted a religious or medical exemption for the initial vaccination requirement remain exempt and do not need to re-submit any information. To submit a new exemption request, please request the Exemption Form by emailing Sue Plank in Health Services at email@example.com.
On-Campus Booster Clinic
We strongly encourage eligible students to receive their boosters prior to returning to campus. For those who are unable to do so, Health Services will be offering on-campus boosters for students at the following times:
- Thursday, January 27, 2022 from 9am-1pm
- Friday, January 28, 2022 from Noon to 4pm
To schedule an appointment for one of these clinics, please log into Medicat.
Faculty and Staff Boosters
We continue to encourage faculty and staff to notify HR if they have been newly vaccinated or have received a booster. You may send an image of your card to firstname.lastname@example.org or present your card in-person to the HR Office located on the ground floor of Penn Hall. As noted for students, and for purposes of the application of College policy, faculty and staff will be considered to be fully vaccinated only if they have received a booster upon being eligible and submitted verification to HR.
Testing and Initial Restriction Period
All students, regardless of vaccination status, must test (antigen or PCR; may use an at-home kit) 72 hours before returning to campus and upload proof of a negative test to Medicat.
- If you receive a positive test result, or if you have any COVID-related symptoms, please do not return to campus for five days per CDC guidance. Instead, isolate in your current location and notify your instructors if you will miss classes. We are asking instructors to be as flexible as possible during the initial weeks of the semester as we anticipate some students will be delayed in their return.
- Students who have tested positive for COVID within the past 90 days and completed required isolation may upload their positive test result in place of a negative test.
- If you do not have access to a test prior to arrival, please test at the Mobile Health testing site on Monday, January 17. Hours will be provided in an email next week. (Note: Mobile Health will be located at Plank Gym beginning January 17 until further notice.)
Arrival Testing and Initial Restrictions
All students must test at Mobile Health after arriving on campus. Students will be assigned a testing day of either Monday, January 17, Tuesday, January 18, or Wednesday, January 19. Assigned testing dates will be sent out next week. During the week of January 17-23 classes will be conducted remotely, dining will be grab and go, access to some buildings will be restricted, and no formal activities will be permitted.
In order to effectively identify positive cases and maintain our ability to safely conduct activities with as much normalcy as possible, we will be testing all students, regardless of vaccination status, on a weekly basis for at least the first four weeks of the Spring term. Stay tuned for more specific information about weekly testing in an email next week.
We will continue our practice of testing all unvaccinated students on a weekly basis throughout the entire semester. To restate, unvaccinated status includes those who have not received a booster within two weeks of eligibility.
As a reminder, faculty and staff who have not shared their COVID-19 vaccination card with the Human Resources Office will be required to participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing throughout the 2022 spring semester. Additionally, faculty and staff may test at no cost at the Mobile Health testing site once per week throughout the semester. More information regarding Mobile Health Spring semester hours will be shared next week.
Students Must Isolate/Quarantine at Home
Given the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant, and the experiences elsewhere, we expect to see a higher number of positive cases than we saw in the Fall. We have identified additional isolation and quarantine spaces recognizing the likelihood of an increase in positive cases on campus. However, the food service, facilities, and other staffing resources available to support students in isolation and quarantine are finite, and redirecting those resources disrupts our ability to fully conduct day-to-day operations. For this reason, any student who lives within 300 miles of the College must isolate or quarantine at home if they test positive or are identified as a close contact.
Gettysburg has updated its isolation and quarantine requirements to be consistent with the CDC’s latest guidance:
This applies to all students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status:
- If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you are required to isolate for five days from the date your test was administered. If you are asymptomatic on Day 6 (no fever for 24 hours), you can return to school or work, but must remain masked indoors at all times through Day 10 and should refrain from eating or drinking indoors with others.
The guidelines for those who have been in close contact with a known positive vary based on vaccination status:
- If you have received a booster or if you’re vaccinated but not yet eligible for a booster: If you are asymptomatic, you do not need to quarantine, but you will be tested on Day 5 after exposure.
- Not fully vaccinated (not vaccinated/boosted if eligible): If you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to quarantine for five days regardless of your symptoms or lack thereof. You will be required to test on Day 5 after exposure.
Faculty and Staff Reporting
All employees are still required to contact the Human Resources Office as soon as possible if they are confirmed to have COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who tests positive. This timely reporting will allow us to evaluate the situation to determine if the employee is required to isolate or quarantine.
We will begin the Spring term with our indoor masking policy in place. All individuals—regardless of their vaccination status—are required to wear masks while inside campus buildings, with the following exceptions:
- When an employee is alone in their personal office or workspace.
- When an individual is actively eating or drinking.
- When a student is in their assigned room or apartment. (Note: This is a change from our Fall masking policy. All students must mask in residential common spaces. We will revisit this policy after the first four weeks of the term.)
Visitors and guests (anyone other than a Gettysburg student or employee) are not permitted in residence halls. Exceptions will be made for family members helping students move into residence halls. Helpers are asked to limit their time in the halls and must be masked at all times.
In addition to sending email updates as needed, we will be updating the COVID dashboard every Monday. The dashboard will track the number of positive cases resulting from tests conducted on campus.
We acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant uncertainty in our lives, both personally and professionally. We have all been asked to adjust our plans and behavior repeatedly in response to changing risks and guidelines—and we understand how frustrating this has been for everyone. Nonetheless, the Gettysburg community has been resilient, even during the most challenging of times. Let us continue to support and care for one another.
Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students
Executive Director of Human Resources