Campus COVID-19 Information
Dear Staff and Faculty,
Happy New Year! We hope that you are having the chance to rest and recharge a bit before we start the second semester. We want to take a moment to thank the staff on campus who have been working through the break to support those students who continue to be on campus and are maintaining campus infrastructure during this period of time. Their work is critically important and deeply appreciated.
Our own COVID-19 planning has been intensive, given all that we have been learning about the Omicron variant and new guidance from the CDC. Over the past few weeks, our protocols for the spring have been evolving with the information and the guidance. Other colleges and universities have been reaching out to us to learn what we did after our September outbreak, so that they might better prepare for the spring. And we have been in regular contact with Hartford HealthCare—and in nearly daily contact with peer institutions within and beyond Connecticut—to develop the best plan for us.
We are eager to be back together and for everyone to be fully engaged—in person and across campus. Given what we have learned from peer schools that started in the past week, we expect that a number of students will test positive at home before coming to campus or will test positive during the first week, leading to students in isolation on and off campus. As a result, we have decided that the first week of instruction will be delivered online, so that everyone can start their classes together without disruption. Students have been instructed that the online format for the first week is not a reason to delay their return to campus. We also recommend that all workshops/programs before Jan. 24th be conducted in an online format so that everyone can participate even if they are in isolation during their transition to campus.
As we look ahead to the semester, the College is working on ways to minimize the likelihood for outbreaks and, in particular, an outbreak that exceeds the number of students that we can support in isolation. More detailed protocols will be shared in a message next week. I know many of you have questions right now about how the semester will start, so we share some advance thinking below:
Testing and Isolation
Faculty and staff should return to campus next week or later in January as you normally would at this time of the year to resume your work. As you return to campus, it is critically important that you get tested at the Testing Center as soon as possible and continue testing. As we start the semester, we will return to last year’s testing protocol with faculty and staff testing once a week if you are on campus one or two days a week and testing twice a week if you are on campus three or more days a week. The Testing Center re-opens on Monday, Jan. 10.
From Jan. 10-13, the hours will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Testing Center will be closed Friday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 17.
From Jan. 18-21, the hours will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
We are currently piloting a shorter isolation period consistent with the CDC guidance and have added exit antigen tests–two consecutive negative tests before leaving isolation. We have positive students who have started with this protocol this week and we will be implementing it with employees as well.
If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, do not go to work on campus until you have at least taken an antigen test to determine whether the symptoms could be COVID-19. If you do not have an antigen test at home or can’t access one in the community, you may go to the Testing Center to be tested there with an antigen test. This will be available when the Testing Center is open during the next two weeks. More details on how antigen testing will be done during the semester will be provided later this month.
Returning to Campus
Offices will be open and accessible to faculty and staff and to students as they return to campus. Faculty and staff can meet with students individually as you normally would.
As we return to work next week, meetings can be in person or online as coordinated by the meeting host. Meeting hosts should keep in mind that some people may need to participate remotely due to their personal circumstances.
The temporary COVID leave policy remains in effect. For questions on COVID leave, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dining halls and coffee shops will be grab and go for the start of the semester. We will shift to offering seating in the dining rooms and coffee shops as soon as possible, but we want to limit unmasked eating in groups as we go through the onboarding process.
Boosters and Masks
All those who are eligible are expected to receive the booster and upload documentation into CoVerified or can show documentation in person during the week of Jan. 24 at the Testing Center (instructions on how to upload documentation to CoVerfied is in the Dec. 21 message). Connecticut College is requiring students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster by Feb. 1 or within 14 days of becoming eligible. Please note that the CDC recently updated the eligibility period for the booster.
If your initial vaccination was Moderna then you qualify six months after your second dose.
If your initial vaccination was Pfizer then you qualify five months after your second dose.
If your initial vaccination was Johnson & Johnson then you qualify two months after your single dose.
We are finalizing plans for one or two booster clinics in late January. Please do not wait for these clinics to receive the booster. If you can schedule a booster before your return to campus, then please do so given that there will be limited appointments available on campus. If you have recently had COVID-19, then please contact your healthcare provider for guidance on when you should receive your booster shot. If you received an approved exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination, you will continue to be exempt from the booster requirement. If you are requesting a new exemption please be in contact with Human Resources.
Mask wearing is critically important. Please be sure that you are wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth and is tight fitting around your face. It is recommended that people wear a surgical mask, KN95 mask, N95 mask, or cloth mask that has filters designed into the cloth material. The College will have a limited supply of N95 and KN95 masks to distribute to students and employees who would like them at the start of the semester. Details on how to access these masks will be shared in a subsequent message.
Hopefully this initial information is helpful to you as you return to work next week and develop plans for the start of the semester. There are many more details that are being refined and will be shared over the course of the coming weeks.
Dean of Students
Dean of the Faculty
Interim Vice President for Human Resources