To the University community:
We continue to monitor COVID-19’s prevalence in Philadelphia and the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, which has led to soaring case counts in the region. New cases in Philadelphia are increasing rapidly, with daily totals establishing single-day records in the city and the seven-day average approaching 3,000 cases. This is a significant departure from what the city experienced in the weeks of our fall semester, when Philadelphia’s daily cases largely stayed in the low hundreds and we maintained low positivity rates on campus.
As we regather on campus for the spring semester, it is important that we take steps to make our return a success. I have approved the following recommendations from the University’s COVID-19 Planning Team:
The COVID-19 vaccine works well to prevent severe illness, but its protection against mild and moderate disease wanes over time. The CDC now recommends a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all individuals 18 and older within a few months of their last dose. Booster doses provide additional protection against COVID-19, especially the delta and omicron variants. Additionally, the latest CDC guidance changes the quarantine and isolation protocol for anyone who is eligible for, but has not yet received, a booster dose.
To minimize the number of community members who may become infected or need to quarantine upon exposure to a positive case, we will require that all members of our campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose within 30 days of eligibility. (Members of our community who already have an approved exemption on file with the University will continue to be exempt.) Please make every effort to receive a booster prior to your return to campus. Those who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 will encounter greater flexibility with quarantine and isolation protocols in accordance with CDC guidance.
Phased return to the classroom
We will move to remote course instruction for the first four days of our semester, from Jan. 18–21. This slight adjustment provides more time for a greater percentage of our community to receive their booster and allows for the dose to be effective. It also minimizes spread within our community as classes begin; supports our contact tracing efforts; and enables us to increase our testing capacity significantly as our community comes back together.
Residence hall move-in
Residence hall move in will continue as planned. As a reminder, all residential students are required to complete entry testing upon their physical return to campus: Jan. 16 or Jan. 17, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Please consult your La Salle email for the latest details from the Housing and Residence Life teams regarding the move-in process and entry testing requirements.
Campus dining, including takeout options, will be available.
For those unable to receive their booster dose this week or next, we have finalized plans with our partner Walmart Pharmacy to bring another booster clinic to campus. The clinic at Treetops Café is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19, and open to all students, faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers. Make an appointment to reserve your spot.
For non-residential students and employees, entry testing is available and strongly encouraged. Testing is available at no expense and without an appointment.
In addition to residential student entry testing, we have expanded the hours of operation at our campus testing center in Treetops Café for the first several days of the semester:
Masks remain a requirement in all indoor settings on campus. We know the omicron variant is significantly more transmissible than previous variants; therefore, surgical-grade masks and KN95 masks are recommended since they provide increased protection. (As a reminder: The Philadelphia Department of Public Health requires those who received an approved vaccine exemption from the University to either double-mask or wear a KN95 while indoors.)
The Division of Student Development and Campus Life (SDCL) will review the viability of all events proposed for Jan. 18–21. Unless authorized by SDCL, student programming planned during that week will be postponed or conducted virtually as we manage a safe return to campus. SDCL staff will communicate additional updates to students via email.
University staff are to report to campus as scheduled from Jan. 18–21. Most meetings, with only limited exceptions, are to be conducted using virtual resources until further notice.
Feeling unwell? Stay home
Before coming to campus, complete the University’s COVID-19 Daily Check-in. If you are not well, stay home. Students and employees should make alternate plans with their instructors and supervisors, respectively.
Thank you in advance for remaining flexible as we work through these difficult times together. I know these changes are not ideal, but your health and safety are paramount. We thrived last semester because of our shared commitment to campus health and safety protocols. With everyone’s help, we will achieve a similar outcome this spring.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, ’85