COVID-19 Policies for Fall Semester
I am writing to reiterate our COVID-19 related policies for the fall semester. Thank you for your understanding, engagement, and compassion as we navigate these ever-changing days with COVID-19.
Vassar is committed to fully in-person classes in the fall semester as is consistent with the residential model of higher education. We are dedicated to keeping our community safe and healthy, and we recognize that physical, mental, and social health all contribute importantly to the Vassar experience. As always, our approach is also consistent with current public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State, and we will continue to stay up-to-date on the scientific literature as well as emerging trends related to COVID-19.
While we are moving to the endemic phase of COVID-19 (which means rather than the virus being “novel” to the population, it is expected to remain present in the population and not be eradicated anytime soon), it remains our collective responsibility to keep each other safe and healthy. Therefore, if you have symptoms, please get tested immediately, stay away from groups, and wear a mask. Additionally, Health Service and the Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (AEO) staff are available to ensure students with compromised immune systems and other risk factors are supported and able to thrive at Vassar. Human Resources and the Dean of Faculty office are available for employees, including faculty, who may need medical accommodations.
The Fall Semester guidelines are as follows:
- COVID-19 Testing: Rapid testing will be available to students on campus through the vending machine in College Center and, for students with symptoms, through Health Service (https://offices.vassar.edu/
health-services/) on campus. Emergency coverage is available after hours for students who need medical attention in evenings or on weekends. At check-in, students will be given a rapid test kit with two COVID-19 tests, as well as a set of tight-fitting masks. For employees, COVID-19 testing continues to be accessible in the county and is often covered by health insurance.
- Vaccination and booster: All students and employees must be COVID-19 vaccinated and one booster (when eligible) or else have an approved waiver from vaccination on file at Vassar. If you have questions, contact Health Service or Human Resources. Employees may also refer to the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
- Masking: Masks will not be required on campus, although masks will be encouraged when indoors in large groups. Hosts of events may determine masking protocols, and faculty may require masking in classes, laboratories, or at office hours. We ask that people routinely have a mask available, and masking is always permitted and supported.
- Dining: Indoor dining will take place at Gordon Commons. Take-out options are available at the food truck, the Retreat, and the Express.
- Events: Events may include food and drinks. Student organizations may work with Campus Activities and faculty may work with the Dean of Faculty office to design masking or other protocols as needed. If you have COVID-19 symptoms: Students and employees, including faculty, who have COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing immediately; students should go to Health Service during open hours and should call the CRC (845.437.7333) if Health Service is closed.
- If you test positive for COVID-19: Students who test positive for COVID-19 should contact Health Service, who will guide students on next steps. All cases will be assessed clinically and isolation protocols will be implemented according to CDC and New York State public health and clinical guidance. The length and place of isolation will vary depending on specific circumstances, again in accordance with CDC and New York State guidance. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should inform their supervisor, isolate at home, and contact Health Services for guidance on when to return to campus.
- Isolation: Students with COVID-19 must mask at all times other than while sleeping and will be isolated in place unless they or their roommate have a documented medical condition that places them at risk of severe disease. Depending on the severity of the cases and extant risk factors, students may be isolated in on-campus buildings, or in some rare cases, a local hotel. All students who are isolated will be instructed on how to access dining and classes given their individual circumstances. All this will be communicated by Health Service and the Residential Life teams directly to each student who tests positive for COVID-19. Employees who test positive should stay home from work and contact Health Services for guidance.
- Communication: As of August 15, 2022, the COVID-19 dashboard is no longer being updated. Health Service will update the campus periodically, and as needed if we identify clustering, atypical transmission patterns or other causes warranting a health alert, as is done with other infectious diseases relevant to campus.
We all recognize that this is a new approach to COVID-19 and change can be unsettling. Please know that we are aligned with our peer liberal arts colleges as well as the local, state, and federal public health guidance. Although it represents a change from last year, our approach is appropriate at this time with our highly-vaccinated population. We need to work together and remember routine public health practices, which include frequent hand washing, hydration, sleeping, and eating well. We have very accessible testing and well-fitting masks for students and look forward to a healthy and safe semester on campus, together.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604