Planning for Our Return to In-Person Work and Learning
Dear faculty, staff, and students,
Spring semester 2022 is underway! While the online start to the semester is not what we wanted, we still have much to be proud of and much to look forward to. Classes are underway at all three schools. Entry testing is going smoothly and booster dose clinics have been well attended. We are welcoming residential students back to campus. With the February 7, 2022, return to in-person classes and work in our sights, we are hopeful.
Our rigorous pre-arrival testing strategy continues and is paying off. By requiring residential students to test before returning to campus and also requiring all community members to test before returning to the classroom and work, we’ve been able to identify positive cases early and successfully support people through periods of self-isolation and isolation, many times before they are ever on campus. To date, we have administered 1,339 tests at on campus clinics with an overall positivity rate of 3.66%. Omicron is significantly more contagious than previous COVID variants, and while this positivity rate is higher than what we have seen in past semesters, it is in line with, if not slightly lower than, that of many of our peer institutions.
As we prepare for our return to classes and work on February 7, here is some important information to keep in mind:
Everyone in our community needs to get tested before returning to classes and work. Some of you have been tested already. For those of you who have not, you will receive an invitation to an upcoming testing clinic via email soon. You can also find information about testing clinics and what to expect on our website, along with information about testing exemptions (if you think that applies to you).
During this period of potential heightened community transmission and infection, we will be using the cell phone function of our RAVE emergency notification system as well as email to reach individuals who test positive at our clinics. Please be diligent in monitoring your email and cell phone, and employees, please make sure your emergency contact information is updated in Workday.
Booster Dose Requirement
As a reminder, all members of the Lewis & Clark community–students, faculty, staff, and employees of our long-term, on-campus partners–are required to get a COVID booster shot as soon as they are eligible. Let us know when you have received your booster:
- Employees: Upload proof to Workday. If you are working remotely, you may need to be logged into the VPN to complete this task. This needs to be done by February 7, 2022, for those of you who are eligible for your booster dose by that date.
- Students: Follow these steps to document your booster dose in the Health Information Portal. This needs to be done by February 7, 2022, for those of you who are eligible for your booster dose by that date.
What if I am exposed to COVID, have COVID-like symptoms, or test positive?
Omicron means that more of you are coming into contact with people who are ill and more of you are feeling ill yourselves. We have added guidelines to our website advising you of how to handle these situations. This information includes links to our latest guidance for residential students who test positive and need to isolate on campus. You can also find guidance there on when you can return to classes and work after receiving a positive test result.
At-Home Antigen Testing
At-home antigen testing is going to play a vital role in getting our community members who do test positive back to class and work. We encourage employees and off-campus students to be proactive about acquiring tests in case you need them. Free tests are available through the U.S. government’s new program (four tests per household), and health insurance providers—including our employer-sponsored plan, Kaiser—are reimbursing for tests purchased through other venues (up to 8 tests per person per month). As needed, we will make our limited supply of antigen tests available to our residential students.
There are signs that Omicron is peaking. We will get through this latest wave, and we deeply appreciate your commitment to keeping our community vibrant, safe, and healthy.