Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
As many public health and medical professionals predicted, the latest surge in COVID-19 cases seems to have peaked and is now in steady decline, with several positive indicators, such as significant drops in case counts and hospitalization rates in the region. With that in mind, we are writing to confirm that on Monday, Jan. 31, students and faculty members will resume in-person classes, and staff members will return to the work plans that were in place for the fall semester. We also want to share several updates to our COVID-19 policies on faculty and staff testing and isolation protocols, as well as visitors to campus.
Transitioning to Rapid Antigen Test
Beginning next week and until further notice, faculty and staff members working on campus will be required to test twice a week using rapid antigen tests. The test kits will be available for pickup at the same locations as in the fall.
The College will use BD Veritor rapid antigen test kits for employee testing. Each kit comes with two tests, and faculty and staff members working on campus must perform two tests each week (meaning typically using one kit per week) and report the test results to the College. Details on how to do so are available on the Faculty and Staff COVID-19 Testing Information page. Faculty and staff members should test on either Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays, whenever possible. Tests should be taken at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours apart.
Whenever possible, faculty and staff members should plan to take their rapid tests before reporting to work on the days noted above. If you receive a positive result, you must not come to campus. All positive results must immediately be reported to the COVID-19 Employee Test Team (CETT) at firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as to Theresa Maguire in Human Resources at email@example.com. Someone from the College will be in touch via email with additional information on isolation protocols.
If you are already on campus and test positive, you must notify your supervisor that you are ill and return home for isolation. You are encouraged, though not required, to inform your supervisor that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
For complete details on our faculty and staff testing policy, including additional information on how to perform these rapid antigen tests, visit the Faculty and Staff COVID-19 Testing Information page.
Coverage For Other At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits Through IBX
Faculty and staff members who are covered under any of the College’s Independence Blue Cross health care plans also receive coverage for a limited number of “at-home” tests. You can find more information and coverage details on the Human Resources website.
Please be aware that individuals who take advantage of this benefit are still required to participate in the weekly testing program using only those tests provided by the College; other antigen or PCR tests may not be used as an alternative to the weekly testing program requirement.
Updated Isolation Protocols
As a reminder, faculty and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 with either a College-provided test or through a test obtained on their own are required to immediately notify the COVID-19 Employee Test Team (CETT) at CETT@swarthmore.edu and Theresa Maguire in Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 must not come to campus, or, if you are already on campus and test positive, you must notify your supervisor that you are ill and return home for isolation. All faculty and staff members who test positive must isolate for at least five days, with the first day being the first full day after either (A) you tested positive for COVID-19, or (B) your symptoms developed, whichever came first.
- For example, if you test positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and immediately begin to isolate, Thursday is considered your first full day of isolation.
Faculty and staff members who test positive and who DO NOT have symptoms may end isolation after five full days following the day of the positive test. (In the example above, the individual would be able to return to work on campus on Tuesday.) Asymptomatic employees who test positive and who are able to work remotely should do so when possible and in coordination with their supervisor.
If you test positive WITH symptoms, you may end isolation after at least five full days IF:
- You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND
- Your symptoms have improved enough to return to work with no remaining respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion, cough, sore throat).
If symptoms persist, you must continue to isolate.
Faculty and staff members who test positive will be exempt from the College’s weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing requirement for 90 days from the date of the positive test. However, these employees WILL be required to test within that 90-day period if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or are considered a close contact of another positive case.
More information on our current isolation practices can be found on our Faculty & Staff Contact Tracing, Quarantine, and Isolation page.
Verifying your Booster Shot
A reminder that the College requires all students, faculty, and staff members to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine and to upload your new COVID-19 vaccination record into MySwarthmore by Monday, Jan. 31, or within 30 days of being eligible. Instructions on how to upload your information can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions.
We continue to require masking indoors. We strongly encourage everyone to upgrade from cloth masks to high-quality, well-fitting, three-layered disposable surgical masks, worn so the edges fit tightly enough to reduce any openings around the nose and mouth. The College can provide you with three-layered surgical masks. These are available now in the entrances of buildings. To order a supply for your department, use this form.
Please review the College’s masking policy for more details.
Visitors and Spectators
We will continue to restrict access to indoor campus facilities to current students, faculty, and staff members only for at least the next two weeks. Please keep your OneCard on you at all times, as you will need it to access campus buildings. You can check your building access by logging in to the OneCard center. If you have questions about your access to a certain facility, please contact the OneCard office.
We are also extending the prohibition on any spectators attending athletic events, performances, and other campus events for an additional two weeks.
We hope and expect that the positive trends referenced above will continue, and that we will reinstate visitor access to campus facilities and spectator access to athletic and other campus events on Monday, Feb. 14. As with all of our policies and practices, we will regularly evaluate this decision and communicate with you about any necessary changes.
Vendors will be permitted to continue to come to campus to support the ongoing operations of the College. Vendors are required to be up to date on their vaccinations, including by having a booster shot if eligible. We will provide more detailed information on our vendor protocols next week.
Thank you for your continued efforts to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community. If you have additional questions, please refer to the College’s COVID-19 Information site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the COVID-19 Planning Group