–A special town hall will be held for students and parents on Monday, August 16, at 7 p.m. Please register and submit questions in advance via the links in this email.
–Because we take seriously the Delta variant and its impact on southeastern Pennsylvania, it is our expectation that masks will be worn indoors beginning immediately and for at least the start of the semester, allowing us to better monitor the health of our campus.
–For their well-being and to ensure we begin the semester as safe as possible, students must take a pre-arrival COVID-19 test prior to their return to campus and submit any positive results. Additionally, there will be a mandatory testing session on campus on move-in days.
Dear Campus Community,
We are rapidly approaching the start of the fall semester and, like you, are excited to return to a fully immersive residential learning experience. As we prepare for the academic year, it is important we look out for one another’s well-being and that we continue to be vigilant about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its recommendation that Montgomery County residents—regardless of vaccination status—should wear masks indoors. You may know that our county—and southeast Pennsylvania in general—has been reporting a high or substantial spread of COVID-19. Because we take this guidance seriously, our expectation is that all individuals will wear masks indoors, effective immediately.
While we will require masking in the classroom, labs, studios, and other shared spaces, we expect students to work together—respectfully and thoughtfully—regarding masking within residence halls and other non-academic settings. While we cannot continually monitor mask usage in all settings, we must rely on each other to adhere to this expectation and maintain as safe and healthy a campus environment as possible. This is a measure for now and for at least the beginning of the semester so that we can better monitor the health of our campus and respond to updated federal and state guidelines as they arise.
The increasing number of infections throughout the region also means that we will not permit off-campus guests to visit residence halls for the first two weeks of the semester, until we can assess and establish the overall health of the campus.
Given these developments, we will also reinstitute some testing measures. Last year, we were able to quickly pivot and adjust as circumstances rapidly changed on campus. Beginning the first week of the semester, we are asking all unvaccinated students, or those granted exemptions, to be tested weekly on campus, while vaccinated students will be also be tested, but less frequently.
As a reminder, students must take a COVID-19 test prior to their return to campus and submit any positive results. At-home tests can be found online at https://ursinus.edu/GetTested. And on-campus testing for all students upon arrival will be held during first-year check-in on Thursday, August 26, and during check-in for all other students on Sunday, August 29. There will be QR codes on fliers at the testing site in the Field House so that students can download consent forms.
We may all have different perspectives on these mitigation measures, so we ask students to adhere to our student code of conduct and to respect one another, regardless of their vaccination status and personal beliefs. This same behavior is expected of faculty and staff. As you know, this situation remains fluid, and we don’t expect that to change. The Virus Task Force will continue to monitor the health of our campus and provide weekly dashboard updates. I encourage your patience as we consider measures that prioritize your health, safety, and ability to have a successful fall semester.
We understand you may have questions for the Task Force that are best answered in real-time, so we invite you to join us for a special town hall for students and parents on Monday, August 16, at 7 p.m. Please register at https://go.ursinus.edu/August16TownHall and submit your questions in advance at https://go.ursinus.edu/Aug16TownHallQuestions.
As a final set of reminders, the Wellness Center continues to reach out to students who have not submitted vaccination documentation. All faculty and staff who are vaccinated should continue to submit documentation at https://ursinus.edu/vaccinations.
Last academic year, amid much uncertainty, Ursinus College continued to thrive. Our goal is to keep that positive momentum going and to build on what we learned and what made us successful. We’re spending considerable time mapping out a plan to monitor the health of campus and we continue to model several testing scenarios for the fall semester.
It takes all of us, and we have the experience and the tools to once again enable an in-person experience. Please continue to be diligent and flexible to protect yourselves and one another as we prepare for a memorable year.
Jill Leauber Marsteller ’78, P’18
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
Virus Task Force chair