To the University community:
Together, with poise and agility, we have traversed the compressed calendar for this spring semester. We are now past the halfway point of both the semester and the Lenten season.
As a reminder: There are no classes scheduled April 1 (Holy Thursday), and the University is closed April 2 (Good Friday) and April 5 (Easter Monday). As we approach the Easter holiday, it is natural to begin making preparations for departing campus and spending time with our families and friends. As members of the La Salle community, we are all being asked to maintain accountability and responsibility—particularly with respect to health and safety of others. The fact that Easter will be celebrated this year in the midst of a global pandemic makes it especially important for us to retain this focus. To keep our community safe and well, we all need to continue to adhere to the important public health tenets of mask-wearing, handwashing, and physical distancing.
Please review the University’s expectations upon your return from Easter break:
Returning to campus
We will return from Easter break and enter into a quiet period that features exclusively remote instruction from April 6-9. The aim of this quiet period is to limit opportunities for transmission, as members of our community reconvene after extended periods away from campus. This quiet period of remote learning will help our students reduce contact with those outside of their household or pod.
Faculty are not to conduct on-campus classes over these dates. Students who hold off-campus clinical affiliations, practicums, or internships should report to their respective sites, as planned. Staff who do not have an approved COVID-19-related accommodation will resume working their 40-50 percent, in-person schedule beginning Tuesday, April 6, as our business operations will continue.
Students are expected to return to campus from Easter break by no later than Tuesday, April 6. In particular, residential students must check in with Residence Life staff upon your return. Further instruction will follow.
We will commence a Reintegration Testing Strategy upon our return to campus. This testing approach will identify a representative sample of our student population for testing at the TreeTops Café Testing Center across 15 hours, spanning two days—on Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10. Students who are selected will receive an email Monday, April 5 from the Testing Center staff (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule an appointment time on these days. This is not optional; if selected for testing, students are expected to comply by reporting for testing.
This reintegration testing strategy accounts for the virus’ initial incubation period and provides a confidence interval of 97 percent. In other words, by observing the quiet period after returning to campus and then undergoing testing several days later, anyone who has contracted the virus over the Easter weekend will have sufficient viral load in their systems by that point to test positive. Additionally, our staff at the Testing Center will increase its weekly random surveillance testing output by 50 percent over the ensuing two weeks following our return from Easter.
Moreover, this measure is part of an active, ongoing disease mitigation campaign that includes a keen focus on case identification and contact tracing, active presumptive case isolations, symptomatic testing, and active quarantine and isolation team involvement.
It is expected that our employees will engage in safe practices that always consider the well-being of our community. It also is expected that some employees may experience an increased level of exposure to those outside their household during the holiday. While we ask that you continue to monitor your health, report any confirmed exposures, and avoid coming to campus if you have known contact with someone who has tested positive, we will offer voluntary COVID-19 tests for employees Thursday, April 8 for anyone who wishes to take this extra precaution. Faculty and staff must make an appointment if they wish to complete a test.
On-campus resources will be limited during the quiet period from April 6-9. La Salle Dining will offer to-go options only. Connelly Library will maintain restricted hours. Student Health will prioritize telehealth appointments. The Independence Blue Cross fitness center will be closed.
As we move into the second year of this pandemic, there are growing reasons for hope. Nationally, about one-tenth of Americans have been fully inoculated against this virus, with the rate of vaccination increasing steadily. Currently, Philadelphia is experiencing slightly more than 200 new cases daily—the city’s lowest total since November, and the School District of Philadelphia has reopened select schools to in-person instruction for the first time in 12 months. While COVID-19 has unleashed devastating impacts across the globe, and even within some of our own families, let us continue to hope that the worst is finally behind us and that there are brighter days ahead.
We have come together in amazing and creative ways this year, most particularly this semester as we have experienced a very successful return to campus. I am confident in our planning and protocols, and I will continue to rely upon the cooperation of our students, faculty, and staff to ensure La Salle University remains a safe place to live, learn, and work.
Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D.