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La Salle News

June 17, 2021

Vaccine requirement and additional health and safety updates for Fall 2021

To the University community:

The safety of those who live, learn, and work at La Salle University remains our priority and the guiding principle for our health and wellness protocols.

We are preparing for a primarily in-person experience in the fall. Our planning continues, with faculty and staff on the University’s Incident Command Advisory (ICA) working this summer to keep La Salle University as safe as possible.

La Salle University will also join a growing number of institutions nationally that will require the COVID-19 vaccine for its students, faculty, and staff. This decision was reached based on recommendations from and consultation with health officials and medical experts federally, locally, and on campus. Vaccine effectiveness studies provide significant evidence of their ability to protect against contracting, spreading, and suffering severe illness from COVID-19. We are confident this is the best course of action for La Salle University. It’s a measure aimed at preserving the health of those at La Salle and in our neighboring communities. It will put us on course to return to the on-campus experience to which we’re all accustomed, whether we are sharing space in classrooms, laboratories, residence and dining halls, office spaces, fitness centers, or elsewhere.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Every student, faculty member, or staff member must provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or submit their exemption request by Friday, Aug. 6.
    • Separate vaccination status forms exist for students and faculty and staff.
    • If you previously provided your date of final vaccination, but did not attach a copy of your vaccination card, simply resubmit a new form.
  • Exemptions are available for those who are unable to receive the vaccine due to a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, sincerely held religious beliefs, or deeply held philosophical reasons.
  • The University will offer support for those with inadequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those in our community who are vaccinated will encounter fewer restrictions next semester, including exclusion from entry and surveillance testing, quarantine requirements, and contact tracing.  We are exploring ways to bring additional vaccine clinics to campus for fall. These clinics will be open to our community and our surrounding neighbors.

Here are a few more updates:

Academic modality
The University developed its initial modality plans for the fall based upon restrictions in place at the time, with a preference to move to full capacity when city restrictions allowed. With Philadelphia’s elimination of capacity restrictions, we are progressing toward a return to full campus capacity next semester:

  • Classroom and lab capacities will increase based on the lifting of city restrictions and the configurations of our classroom.
  • Classes that are currently scheduled as staggered classes and remote synchronous classes will shift to face-to-face modality in most cases.

The Office of the Registrar is updating Fall 2021 course schedules to account for these changes. Additional information will follow from Academic Affairs on the detailed next steps for this process for the faculty and students whose schedules will be affected by these shifts.

Human resources
As mentioned, we are expecting to be at full campus capacity next semester. With the prevalence of vaccine availability and effectiveness, we are planning to reduce the opportunity to request COVID-19 workplace accommodations to include only Section 504 workplace accommodations for personal health conditions in the fall. Current approved COVID-19 workplace accommodations will expire on July 16. Employees who wish to request workplace accommodations under Section 504 should follow the instructions in the Guidelines for Requesting Workplace Accommodations and will need to provide new medical certification. Completed requests must be received by Rose Lee Pauline, our Affirmative Action Officer, no later than July 15. As we take stock of what we’ve learned through this period of primarily remote work and imagine how we will work in the future, we are exploring flexible work opportunities for certain functions. Further information will be coming from HR and area Vice Presidents within the next few weeks.

Masks
Effective immediately, masks are not required outdoors on campus for those who are vaccinated. Our indoor masking policy remains in place at least through the summer, regardless of your vaccination status, and we will revisit this policy closer to the fall semester based on more current guidance.

In closing
A collective effort by all of you kept us on campus—and kept us safe—last semester. Consider: Our testing center administered nearly 5,000 rapid antigen tests and, of those Explorers tested, less than half of one percent tested positive. Another encouraging figure: There were zero cases of classroom transmission.

Over the last few weeks, federal and local authorities have either eased or entirely lifted safety restrictions. In Pennsylvania, the positivity test rate has plummeted below 3%. Philadelphia ranks near the top, among the largest American cities, in the percentage of citizens who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine sequence.

A more detailed update from the University will follow, as the start of the semester approaches. I am proud to be part of a University community that embraced this unprecedented challenge by adopting safety practices and adhering to health and wellness guidelines. This shared commitment will be increasingly important as we return to a full campus this fall.

Thank you for doing your part.

Sincerely,

Tim O’Shaughnessy, ’85
Interim President