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Updating COVID-19 Policies and Practices

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members,

I write to you on behalf of the COVID-19 Planning Group with an update on the current status of the pandemic on campus and in the surrounding areas, and related changes to our policies and procedures. 

As you may know, indicators continue to show that COVID-19 has significantly subsided in the region. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Delaware County has moved into the “low” community level. That designation is based on three metrics: the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, as well as new COVID-19 hospital admissions and new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.

The number of cases on campus also remains relatively low, with 12 students and three employees reporting positive cases last week — our last week of required testing. Fortunately, none of these cases resulted in serious illness, and the majority of individuals who tested positive had mild or no symptoms.

From the onset of the pandemic, we pledged to follow the science and make decisions based on the latest information available to us. The latest data and medical and public health guidance have led us to conclude that we can ease many of our longstanding COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Before I detail those changes for you, I want to acknowledge that, after living with these restrictions for much of the past two years, this transition will come more easily to some of us than to others. Within our shared experience of the pandemic, each of us lives with our own set of individual circumstances, and those circumstances may lead, understandably, to varying levels of comfort and anxiety. So as we continue to return to a more familiar way of life, I ask all of our community members to be sensitive to and understanding of the personal choices of our friends, peers, and colleagues.  

Masking Indoors
According to the CDC, people living in areas with “low” COVID-19 community levels may “wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.” With that in mind, effective Saturday, March 26, we will no longer require individuals to wear masks indoors, with the following exceptions

  • While in class; you must remain masked during a lab, studio, or class being held indoors.
  • Inside the Worth Student Health Center.
  • While attending performances in the Lang Performing Arts Center or Lang Music Building. 
  • While riding the Garnet or Tri-Co Shuttles. As a reminder, we restored shuttle service to Media earlier this year. The Garnet Shuttle website has the most current schedule and information.    

We encourage those of you who wish to continue wearing masks to do so, particularly those of you who may have underlying health conditions. 

Capacity Limits
Effective immediately, we are lifting all remaining COVID-19-related capacity restrictions for indoor events and activities, and we no longer require individuals to coordinate COVID-19 safety protocols with the COVID-19 Planning Group. We ask that those of you who are planning events or coordinating large gatherings continue to remain sensitive to the varying degrees of comfort others will have.

Students with questions about social gatherings and other student events should continue to consult with the Office of Student Engagement.  

Access to Campus Facilities
As you know, we restored normal access to most indoor facilities last month, with some exceptions, notably the Matchbox, Ware Pool, and the Mullan Tennis Center. As of Friday, April 1, we are returning to pre-pandemic access for those facilities as well, meaning that spouses and partners of current employees and their dependents ages 16-26 may resume using the facilities. Retired staff, emeriti faculty, and alumni may also access these facilities as of April 1. Additional details about accessing Athletics facilities are available on the COVID-19 section of our website. 

As a reminder, our vaccination requirements remain in place: All visitors, including alumni and parents, must be up to date on their vaccinations or have a negative rapid antigen test result within 24 hours of coming to campus.

  • The College considers individuals up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine if they have received both an initial, primary series of vaccinations, and a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible.

We appreciate your patience while we work to update the COVID-19 website as well as signs across campus so that they are consistent with these updates. 

International Travel
Those who travel internationally through the use of College funds must continue to seek prior approval from the International Travel Risk Management Committee (ITRMC). However, later this spring we plan to move to a new process that will be less approval-based and more informational, which will allow the ITRMC to know where community members are for safety and insurance purposes. We will provide more information once those details are finalized.

I am profoundly grateful for all the care you have taken for yourselves and others, which has allowed us to manage this extraordinary period of time successfully. COVID-19 is by no means behind us; we are prepared to return to whatever health and safety measures are necessary should circumstances shift again. But we have proven that we have the resilience, grace, and compassion to navigate the ever-changing pandemic.

With great appreciation, 

Val Smith