December 21, 2021

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

As we prepare for the start of J-term, there is ample evidence that the highly transmissible omicron variant could result in a surge of COVID-19 cases for our community, as well as for many others. We are taking a number of additional steps now in order to protect the safety and well-being of our community during January and the spring semester. Here is a summary of the changes we are making in an effort to de-densify the campus and minimize transmission to the extent we can:

Faculty Strongly Encouraged to Convert In-Person Courses to Remote Instruction

  • Faculty who are teaching a J-term class are strongly encouraged to change to remote teaching.
  • Concurrently, all students registered for J-term classes that are being taught remotely are strongly encouraged to study remotely and not to return to campus for January term.
  • You will hear from your professor soon about how your class will be offered.
  • Students who need reimbursement for the cost of changes in travel plans as a result of these new protocols should complete this form

Other J-term Activities

  • Senior thesis students working in labs or studios should confirm the necessity of coming to campus with their advisors. All thesis students who can work remotely should do so.
  • Those offering co-curricular programs such as ACEMS training, mock trial, SHE training, etc., are strongly encouraged to offer their programming remotely, if possible.
  • All on- and off-campus athletics will continue as planned. However, attendance at athletics events will be limited to members of the community who are currently in the College’s testing program. 
  • No outside visitors may attend any on-campus events.

Student Registration to be on Campus

  • All students who are no longer planning to be on campus in January should register their change of plans using this form
  • Only students who have already been approved to be on campus will be allowed to be on campus.

Booster Required

  • Any student, staff or faculty member who will be on campus in January will be required to have a booster shot the first week of January in order to be on campus, if they are eligible. Additional information on this requirement can be found below.
  • We will hold a booster clinic on Tuesday, Jan. 4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for those who are not able to secure one elsewhere, with both Moderna and Pfizer boosters expected to be available. Information about how to register for the clinic will be available in the next few days.
  • As previously announced, all members of the Amherst community who are eligible—and who will not be on campus in January—will be required to have a booster shot by Feb. 1. (Those who are not eligible for a booster by that date will be required to receive one as soon as they are eligible).

Non-essential Staff to Continue Working Remotely

  • For the month of January, all staff who are able to work remotely should continue to do so. They should coordinate with their supervisor on any relevant details.
  • Staff who play a direct role in supporting students or on-campus teaching and learning should continue to come to campus and closely adhere to safety protocols, including twice-a-week testing and wearing a facemask indoors at all times. 

Student Booster Verification

  • Students who will be on campus during January need to submit documentation of their booster shot no later than Jan. 7 through our patient portal by logging in and clicking on the “Upload” tab and selecting “COVID vaccine documentation” to upload the paperwork. Students who fail to comply with the booster requirement may be required to leave campus.
  • Students who received their booster shot at one of the College’s on-campus clinics on Dec. 2, Dec. 9 or Jan. 4 do not need to upload documentation through the portal.
  • Students who have not previously requested a medical or religious exemption and want to do so at this time should follow the same procedures as those for the original vaccine requirement.

Faculty and Staff Booster Verification

  • Faculty and staff who need to work on campus in January will need to present either proof of their booster shot or, for those not yet eligible for the booster, proof of the date of their second COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Testing Center during a regular COVID-19 test between Jan. 4-7 (or at a later date if they are returning to campus later in the month). The Testing Center may not have the capacity to verify vaccinations on Monday, Jan. 3, but will do so on that day if/as testing volume permits.
  • Anyone not eligible for the booster by Jan. 7 will need to show proof of having received the shot no more than two weeks from the date they are eligible to receive it.
  • Faculty or staff who have not previously requested an exemption and wish to do so now must submit their request to the Office of Human Resources for review. For more information, go to the COVID-19 vaccine exemption webpage. Exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and determinations will be communicated within approximately 5-7 business days.

We understand the stress that comes with changes in our plans; unfortunately, the necessity of sometimes rapid response comes with the territory we’re in. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to COVID19-info@amherst.edu and one of us will get back to you as quickly as possible in the coming days.

We appreciate your ongoing cooperation and goodwill as we deal with the challenges of the pandemic.

Sincerely,

Biddy