Spring 2022 COVID-19 Plans

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

As we prepare to launch the spring semester, we are writing to you today with details about how we will operate the campus this spring, given the circumstances with COVID-19. We have developed plans that will enable us to be together in person with as few interruptions as possible to the flow of the semester. 

Given the high number of cases across the country caused by the Omicon variant, we anticipate that many students will test positive for COVID-19 as they transition to campus. Thus far, we have heard from 116 students who have had COVID-19 while off campus since the end of the fall semester. With this week’s testing, we had 19 positive students on campus and 22 positive employees. The dashboard will begin showing campus case counts this coming week. 

Given the high numbers we are seeing on other campuses and in our own early data, we felt it was important to start courses in a virtual format. This will ensure that everyone has access to classes even if students need to remain at home or isolate on campus because of a positive COVID-19 test. Everyone will be able to participate in classes during the critical start of the term. During this period, you may meet with students individually and in small groups either in-person or virtually. 

In order for our planned start to the semester to go smoothly, we are emphasizing to students that they should return to campus as they had originally planned. For most, this means returning to campus on Jan. 23. We explained to students that it is important for them to be on campus to test during the first week. This will hopefully enable us to transition to in-person classes on Jan. 31.

We encourage you to take a look at the Student Guidance page so that you are familiar with our expectations for students and how we will be operating the campus for them. We also ask that you take a moment to review employee specific information on the Staff and Faculty Guidance page on the Path Forward site. Please review this carefully, because there are a variety of changes that reflect the circumstances with Omicron and will enable us to operate the campus during the surges of COVID-19 cases that we are anticipating early in the semester. Below are a few notes that we will highlight: 

Booster Clinics 

  • Some of you have had a difficult time securing an appointment to receive the booster, so we are offering two booster clinics on campus during the first week of the semester. If you already have an appointment of your own, please keep that appointment so that we do not run out of appointments on campus for students and employees who need them. 

  • Please register for an appointment using one of the links below. 

  • Some employees who received the booster during the fall semester did not have their vaccine card updated or did not receive a new vaccine card. If this is the case for you, take note of whether your booster shot was administered on a weekday or a weekend. If it was a weekday, go to the Community Health Center clinic on the 22nd and speak to someone there. If it was on a weekend, then go to the Hartford HealthCare clinic on the 29th and speak with someone there about your issue.  

Spring Semester Protocol Highlights

  • Alert Level 2 - Yellow: As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, the campus will be operating at Alert Level 2-Yellow. See the Path Forward website for details on what this means.  In general, we will be fully operating the campus with offices and services open. Please note that food and beverages from dining facilities and coffee shops will be Grab and Go.  

  • Flexibility and COVID Leave: We continue to see disruptions to individuals’ schedules due to their personal and family circumstances. Supervisors and department chairs are providing employees with increased flexibility, when possible, in circumstances where they have to care for family related to COVID-19.

For those who meet the conditions of the COVID Leave Policy, please be advised that the policy has been extended until Mar. 31, 2022 and will be reviewed again at that time. The policy can be found in the Staff Handbook. COVID leave is time-limited and should not be the only method to address COVID exposure or concerns. Wherever possible, we are asking that remote work or other flexible arrangements be considered to allow employees to continue their work.

Recommendations regarding flexible options for faculty are found on the Dean of the Faculty Moodle page in the document, “Preparing for Spring 2022.”

  • Mask Wearing: It is recommended that people wear a surgical mask, KN95 mask or N95 mask. If wearing a cloth mask, it is recommended that it has filters designed into the multiple cloth layers. All masks must be covering the nose and mouth and be tight fitting around the face. While supplies are available, KN95 and N95 masks are available at the Testing Center. These masks can be used over an extended period of time–please use discretion in how many masks you take so that others on campus have access to them as well.  

  • Testing:

    • The Testing Center is in Cro in the 1941 Room (2nd floor)

    • The Testing Center will be closed on Monday, Jan. 17 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

    • The Testing Center hours from Jan. 18 –21 will be 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

    • Beginning on Monday, Jan. 24, the semester’s schedule is as follows: 

      • Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. 

      • Close contacts and quarantine testing hours 4:30-4:50 p.m. 

      • Closed Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays

    • Once or Twice Weekly PCR Testing: Due to the large volume of tests being processed at the Broad Institute and staffing challenges due to Omicron, the lab has forewarned us that test results may take more than 24 hours to receive. Please be patient in receiving your test results.  

    • Symptomatic Testing: In addition to regular twice weekly PCR testing, if you have symptoms that could be COVID-19, you have access to rapid antigen tests through the Testing Center so that you do not need to wait for your test day to be tested. If you have symptoms, do not go to work, but you may stop by the Testing Center to pick up a rapid antigen test. If your test is positive, please notify Steve Langlois, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, via email: srlan@conncoll.edu. Steve will provide next steps.

      • If you are within the 90 day period of time since having had COVID-19 you will not be PCR testing; but if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should use an antigen test to determine if you have COVID-19 again. 

      • Antigen tests will be available in the Alice Johnson Room (adjacent to the 1941 room). 

  • Isolation: 

    • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of six days (with two negative antigen tests). There are important details provided on the Staff and Faculty Guidance page. 

    • Beginning Thursday Jan. 20, employees who test positive may go to the Alice Johnson room in Cro (adjacent to the 1941 Room) to pick up an isolation packet that includes the following: 

      • KN95 masks 

      • Rapid antigen tests

      • Test administration instructions 

      • Isolation duration instructions 

  • Contact Tracing: Depending on the number of positive cases in a given time period, contact tracing may be done either via a phone interview or online using a Google form.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to review the information on the Staff and Faculty Guidance page. It is very important for you to be familiar with this material so that we can all have a successful semester on campus. 

Sincerely,

Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students 

Jeff Cole
Dean of the Faculty

Larry Lewellen
Interim Vice President for Human Resources