Fall 2022 COVID-19 Protocols

August 5, 2022

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

We have been closely following the trajectory of COVID-19, as well as developments related to monkeypox this summer, and giving careful thought to the most appropriate health and safety protocols for our community as we come together for the start of the new academic year. As we are all well aware, COVID-19 is ever-evolving, as are the tools we have to respond to it, from vaccines and boosters to available treatments. This communication will address COVID-19 protocols that will be in place at the start of the semester. Additional details will be communicated closer to the start of classes.

Our goal is to balance the need for continued attention to the health of our community with a strong desire to return to the activities and interactions that are central to building community, as well as teaching, learning and collaborating. We recognize and respect that members of our community have made, and will continue to make, individual choices to follow more stringent–or relaxed, for that matter–protocols based on their individual and family health circumstances.

Change in Campus Operating Status

June 1, 2022

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

Effective today, the College is moving to Campus Operating Level Status One: Baseline COVID-19 Operations. 

As we move toward a less dense campus population over the summer and as pandemic conditions allow, we anticipate beginning to relax some of our protocols.

At this time:

  • KN-95 masks will continue to be required indoors.

  • Indoor space capacity will be at 75% through the end of the day Thursday, June 2, and return to 100% capacity on Friday, June 3.

  • During Reunion (June 2-5), academic buildings on the main campus will be unlocked between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Please take note of this and be sure to lock your individual office and other spaces when not in occupancy. Community Service Officers will be patrolling the buildings at night and will secure unlocked spaces.

Change in Campus Operating Status, Isolate-in-Place in Effect

May 11, 2022

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

With the results of yesterday’s PCR testing plus those of the antigen tests taken so far today, we are now at 38 student positive results in the past 24 hours – the highest number we have seen since late February and bringing the total of student positives to 90. Additionally, per the all-College message on May 6, we have now exceeded our limit for isolation housing at the Rodeway and Hampshire College and will begin to isolate some students in place in the residence halls.

In light of these factors, we are moving to Campus Operating Status Level 2: Enhanced COVID-19 Precautions with the following protocols effective immediately:

Updated Masking Policy

May 9, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

In light of the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 on campus, and in order to preserve our ability to have a successful and celebratory conclusion to the academic year, including for our graduating seniors, we are updating the College’s mask policy as follows, effective immediately and for the remaining three weeks of the semester:

  • KN-95 masks will be required in all indoor spaces excluding residence halls and Val Dining Hall and when alone in a private office with the door closed.

We appreciate everyone’s willingness to do their part.

Sincerely,

Catherine Epstein
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Liz Agosto
Chief Student Affairs Officer and Dean of Students

Change to COVID-19 Isolation Procedures

May 6, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff

Due to a continuing high number of COVID-19 cases among students, we are close to capacity in our isolation housing (Rodeway and Hampshire College) and we are highly likely to need to move to an isolate-in-place model for positive cases this weekend. 

This means that students who test positive will isolate in their rooms if, and only if, they are in a single-occupancy room or they are in a double-occupancy room and their roommate has also tested positive.  Here are a few more details to be aware of:

Increased Number of Cases/A Protocol Change

May 4, 2022

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

As you are likely aware, we are experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases here on campus. We currently have 65 students, 5 faculty members and 6 staff members with positive cases.

The steady increase in cases is worrisome, and the implications are potentially quite serious. 

  • We are close to exceeding our isolation room capacity at the Rodeway, and are likely to begin housing isolating students at Hampshire College. 

  • Students now contracting COVID-19 may be negatively affected in their ability to take their finals, to leave campus as planned at the end of the semester, and potentially, for seniors, to participate fully in Commencement activities, including in the ceremony itself. 

  • We have many celebratory events scheduled over the coming weeks and those could be jeopardized.

Changes to Testing and Masking Protocols

March 30, 2022

Update 3/30/22 — This message was corrected to reflect April 4 as the effective date for the change in masking protocols.

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

In light of the current low COVID-19 positivity rates on campus and in the surrounding areas, we are making changes to both our testing and masking protocols. The changes are dependent on these low positivity rates; we are watching the BA.2 variant and are prepared to make additional changes, as warranted, in response to that variant or any other variants that might emerge.

Change to COVID-19 Protocols

February 8, 2022

We are pleased to report that, so far, it appears that the delayed start of the spring semester and lengthier move-in period accomplished our goal of avoiding a surge of early semester COVID-19 cases on campus. As of today, we have 37 student cases and 5 combined staff and faculty cases.

Given these numbers and the fact that Massachusetts appears to be past its omicron peak, we will begin to relax some of our protocols over the next two weeks, as outlined below, along with the date they will go into effect. We will continue to monitor transmission on campus and in the local area and make further adjustments to our protocols as appropriate and necessary.

It remains extremely important that you continue complying with our health and safety protocols to help minimize transmission and identify cases in a timely manner. Please keep in mind that some members of our community face a much greater health risk than others (those who are immunocompromised, have young children at home, etc). Here are the changes:

Spring Semester 2022: Important Information

January 11, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I hope the new year has started well for you, despite the problems that COVID-19 continues to cause and the significant health risk it creates for many people, including members of our community and those we love.

I am writing to provide you with information about the adjustments we will make for the spring semester, the majority of which represent relatively minor changes to what was previously planned.

Implementing the CDC’s New Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

December 30, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

From the beginning, COVID-19 has created the necessity for frequent adjustments to policies and protocols, requiring that we closely follow available expertise and use our best judgment about how to implement expert guidance. As you know, we recently adjusted our protocols and policies for J-term in an effort to mitigate the disruption that the highly transmissible omicron variant could have on the start of the spring semester. However, as you also no doubt know, earlier this week the CDC issued new guidance shortening the recommended time for isolation in the case of a positive test for COVID-19 and updating the recommended quarantine period for anyone exposed to COVID-19. Massachusetts and local public health authorities have now adopted the most recent CDC guidance. I am writing today to explain how we will be implementing this latest guidance at the College.

Most January Classes Online, Booster Now Required, Nonessential Staff Continue Remote Work

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:

January Term Re-Entry Protocols

December 17, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

We are writing to provide important information about the plans for the beginning of J-term 2022. 

In light of ongoing concerns about the high transmissibility and presence of the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19 and our interest in keeping our community as healthy and safe as possible, we will implement the following protocols:

Students

  • All students approved to return to campus during J-term, regardless of whether or not they’ve registered for a course, must receive two negative PCR tests before they can participate in any in-person activities, including attending classes. 

Operating Level, COVID-19 Protocols Changes

December 10, 2021

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

I write regarding the increased presence of COVID-19 on campus and in the region, and the steps we are now taking to keep our community as safe as possible. We will raise our operating status to Level 2: Enhanced Covid-19 Precautions, effective immediately, and implement the changes below beginning tomorrow, December 11, and through the end of December.

The number of cases across all constituencies on campus and in the local community has risen over the past several weeks. UMass, for example, has reported 98 new cases between December 1-7 and cases are high throughout Hampshire County. Also, the FDA reports increasing evidence of the waning effectiveness of the vaccine against COVID-19 infection.

We expect, with the protocol changes, to limit, if not avoid, student cases requiring isolation that would affect exams or plans to leave campus. A positive test result, which requires 10 days of isolation, will not only affect students’ plans, but it also places additional burdens on staff across the College who care for them.

Important: Booster Shot Requirement

December 8, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As you are likely aware, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have authorized and are recommending COVID-19 booster shots for everyone 18 years and older. The College will require that all community members who are eligible receive a booster no later than February 1, 2022, and we urge those who are eligible to receive the booster now. Those who are not eligible for a booster shot by that date will be required to receive it as soon as they are eligible.

While it is still unclear what role, if any, the COVID-19 booster shot will play in mitigating the effects of the omicron variant, the CDC indicates that some public health experts are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease by the vaccine, especially among certain populations. Therefore, getting the booster provides important additional protection for you, and our community, as we continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Here is what you need to know regarding receiving and verifying the booster:

Return to COVID-19 Level 1 Operating Status and Announcing New Protocols

October 19, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

We’re pleased to tell you that, with a set of post-fall break test results now in following the break, the College’s current operating status has been changed to Level 1: Baseline COVID-19 Operations from Level 2.

With the College’s infection rates very low for most of the semester, we are also announcing several changes to our COVID-19 protocols, which are predicated on the College remaining at Level 1. If the operating level changes, these protocols may change, and we’ll update the community accordingly.

So, effective this Wednesday, October 20: