Dear University of Rochester community,
As a follow-up to our December 23 post, we would like to provide more details on how we currently plan to return to the Eastman and River campuses next week and what we expect spring semester operations to do. will look like. The public health situation here continues to evolve, so we will continue to update you if circumstances change.
Since the last time we wrote, the Rochester area and many places across the country have continued to see an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, setting new daily multi-day records. Our optimism, based on advice from the University of Rochester Medical Center and county and national data, is that this increase represents the peak of omicron infections in Rochester and that the number of new cases will soon decline, allowing us to safely resume our university spring program. person and on time. Moving forward in this way also aligns with Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent omicron guidance.
Here’s what stays the same:
- All undergraduate and graduate students should plan to return to campus as scheduled;
- Classes will begin, in person, as scheduled;
- We will proceed with the orientation of the new student cohort as planned;
- Research activities will continue to be carried out in person, following COVID security measures (vaccination, masking);
- Intercollegiate track and field events will continue, per current NCAA guidelines;
- River Campus and Eastman Dining Services will be fully operational with many Grab & Go options.
Here are some short-term changes:
- All the teaching staff must be masked in class, regardless of the distance between the teacher and the students, until February 1;
- All student extracurricular activities will be held virtually until February 1; all other planned activities, such as lectures and lectures, are strongly encouraged to be uploaded when possible, for the month of January;
- The Rettner Hall COVID testing site on River Campus will only test unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students who are granted exemptions – those required to participate in weekly surveillance tests – and symptomatic students as directed by the University. Health Service (UHS).
The university has also received approval from County Monroe for our revised isolation policy, which will help us maximize our space and support services for an increased student body in need of isolation. Effective immediately, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate for at least five days and will be released from isolation upon receiving a negative rapid antigen or test result. complete isolation for 10 days. If the result of a rapid antigen test on day 5 is positive, individuals can undergo a second rapid antigen test on day 7. If the antigen test on day 7 is negative, the individual can be released. isolation at that time. In the event that the result is still positive, individuals should complete the full 10 day isolation period.
More detailed information on the new isolation guidelines, including advice for on-campus and off-campus isolation, is available on the University’s COVID-19 resource website.
For all of this planning and new policies to be successful, we really need your help, more than ever, to keep the University of Rochester community safe and healthy this semester. We want to avoid class interruptions, students having to spend time in isolation and staff shortages, because we know this impacts our university operations and our research and learning activities. We all experience some sort of pandemic fatigue, but we ask everyone to continue to be vigilant, not only to protect themselves, but also to protect others in our community, both on campus and off campus. There is no doubt that two years of masking and testing have been difficult, but now more than ever, we must – and we can – get through this together!
What to do now:
Students: If you haven’t already, give your booster shot before returning to campus if you are eligible. The CDC recently reduced the recommended length of time after the second in a series of two Pfizer vaccinations from 6 months to 5 months, so please check your eligibility. The CDC has a helpful resource page on vaccine recalls.
Vaccination, booster, and masking are the best protections against the omicron variant and they are mandatory for all students. You can find booster vaccination locations in your area by visiting www.vaccines.gov. For those students who cannot receive the booster before arriving on campus for the spring semester, UHS will provide advice on how to get the vaccine on arrival, which will likely include referral for students to the ‘One of the sites in the Rochester area where the booster is available: the Monroe County Mass Vaccination Site and the Finger Lakes Vaccination Center. At the start of the spring semester, the University will begin sending notices to students who are eligible for the recall but have not yet done so.
- To download: All students who have received the reminder must upload an image of their immunization card to UHSConnect (instructions on site). Please upload the front and back of the card which contains your name, date of birth, vaccine manufacturer, vaccine lot number and dates of all doses received.
Students with questions regarding vaccinations should contact UHS at [email protected] or (585) 275-2662.
COVID test: In addition, all students living in university accommodation who have been away from campus for winter vacation must present a negative COVID-19 test (within the last 72 hours) upon returning to campus, or show a proof of having COVID in the past 90 days. This test requirement also applies to first-time students.
Please note a change from the Spring 2022 update: A message to students, faculty and staff we sent last month:
- To download: All students who have received their COVID test must upload the following to UHSConnect: picture of test result, full name, date of birth, and date / time the test was taken (written on the test or other document) .
If you receive a positive COVID test, you must go through a 10-day home isolation period from the date of the positive test. We will be ready to welcome you in person when you have recovered from COVID.
There is one more change from our Spring 2022 update message: Students who stayed on campus during winter break do not need to have a negative COVID test.
Professors and staff: The University strongly encourages all faculty and staff to receive the recall when they are eligible. Additionally, faculty should plan to remain masked in class during the month of January and be prepared to provide virtual learning and classroom support to any student who cannot attend classes due to COVID restrictions. It is essential that the learning process continues for students who may be in segregation or quarantine, and we greatly appreciate everyone’s help in this regard. The Provost office will send a separate message to faculty with useful information on planning and executing online access for isolated students.
What is needed during the semester:
Dr Chat Bot: We know that Dr. Chat Bot usage has declined with all the ebb and flow of COVID over the past two years, but during the spring semester we are requiring Dr. Chat Bot to attend daily for everyone. on University property. The data we collect every day is critical to our understanding of the presence of COVID on campus, which in turn is critical to our operational decision making. Morning emails will continue to serve as reminders to complete the Rapid Health Screening each day, and students with symptoms of COVID-19 should use Dr. Chat Bot to report them to UHS for early testing. . Dr. Chat Bot is also available through the UR Mobile app.
Keep making smart personal decisions: Everyone is asked to maintain good practices that help protect themselves and everyone around them safe and healthy, such as hiding indoors (a university requirement), avoiding large unmasked gatherings and wash hands frequently. Wear a face mask wherever you can to protect yourself and others from infection. New research suggests that N95 or KN95 masks are the most effective in preventing the transmission of omicron. These types of masks are readily available at drug stores and online outlets, such as Amazon. Students are strongly encouraged to use them in place of cloth masks, or the double mask, for the greatest COVID protection.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19:
- Students: Report them immediately via Dr. Chat Bot for testing.
- Employees: contact your primary care provider to arrange testing and treatment; the Rettner Hall Caswood test site is not available for symptomatic testing of employees.
Due to our rapidly changing public health environment, there is every chance that our academic protocols will change in the coming weeks. It is difficult to predict what changes, if any, we will need to make, but we appreciate your patience and flexibility in the midst of this uncertainty. If we need to make any changes to protocols or operations, we’ll let you know as soon as possible. In the meantime, we hope you had a restful break. We look forward to a happy and healthy year 2022 and to welcome you again for the spring semester.
As always, we are grateful to all for their persistence, resilience, hard work and sacrifices in these troubled times. Together, we will go through this ordeal and continue to learn, discover, heal and create.
Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor