September 9, 2021
Returning to in-person learning on Monday
To the University community:
It’s important that I share the most significant news first: La Salle University will resume in-person learning on campus, on Monday, Sept. 13.
As this week comes to a close, I want to thank our students, faculty, and staff. We encountered an unexpected situation and, as a result, difficult circumstances. Through it all, you have done your best to adjust and persist.
Our decision to deliver courses remotely was something none of us wanted. We made the move to go remote based upon a rapid rise in active cases, from four last Friday to nearly four dozen by Sunday. The speed of that increase and the risk of the potential spread concerned us. To better understand how the virus was spreading, we opted for a temporary, conservative approach that prioritized your health and our ability to preserve the rest of our semester in-person. This week, we conducted more than 625 tests and significant contact-tracing. This work allowed us to assess the type, pace, and extent of spread across campus. We have determined the spread is not only traceable, but manageable—particularly when considering our community’s high vaccination rate. We are confident it is safe to return to in-person learning.
While I am pleased to share this news, this week serves as a reminder of our semester’s fragility. Even with a strong vaccination rate and the extensive health protocols that are in place, we remain vulnerable to this virus. (Among our active cases, most individuals have experienced only very mild symptoms. Many continued to attend class and other functions, believing their symptoms were related to seasonal allergies. Almost all transmission has been traced to large social gatherings in off-campus venues. Classroom transmission has been nearly non-existent, with only two such potential occurrences.)
The systems we have in place, all aimed at mitigating COVID-19’s spread, work best when we follow them. Please mask up, maintain social distancing, report when you are experiencing symptoms, and stay home if you are sick.
We are implementing new measures and adapting our existing Health and Safety Guidelines to further protect our community. We are increasing staffing for our testing center and contact tracing program. We are also reevaluating safety protocols for on-campus events and visitors.
Additionally, please note the following:
- #VaxUpLaSalle. As of this morning, our vaccination rate is approaching 91%. More than 85% of our community is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Friday is the last day to begin the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cycle and remain compliant with the city’s regulation that all university students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated. Find a vaccine clinic near you.
- Masks. Everyone must wear a mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. A mask must cover your nose and mouth. (In crowded locations, consider double-masking for extra protection.)
- Feeling sick? Stay home.Monitor your symptoms daily. Please do not come to campus, even if you are feeling only slightly under the weather. Stay home and make necessary arrangements with either your instructors or supervisors.
- Disclosure form. Submit the University’s disclosure form if you or others are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms; have tested positive for COVID-19; or have had close contact with someone who tested positive. The La Salle COVID-19 Response Team will connect with you shortly after receiving your submitted form.
- Residence halls. Until further notice, the University’s amended residence hall visitation policy will remain in place. Students are permitted as guests only among other students within their respective housing areas.
- Campus dining will return to normal operations.
I look forward to Monday and our return to campus. Until then, stay safe and I hope to see all of you soon. Please don’t forget, too, that when we discuss active cases, we are talking about members of our community who are sick. Please keep them in your prayers and continue to show care to and compassion for them. And let’s remember, too, that we are stronger when we accept the mutual responsibility of protecting one another.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, ’85