Important Message: Booster Requirement, Return to Campus and Testing
Congratulations on finishing your finals and completing the Fall 2021 semester! As far as COVID-19, we finished out the semester with a low number of positive cases, and given the increase seen on other campuses, it seems that the booster clinics we held in November and December helped us. Thank you for your continued diligence.
I am writing today with an important update on our efforts to protect the health and safety of our campus and our neighboring communities, while supporting an in-person academic and residential experience for Spring 2022. This message will address three topics:
COVID-19 booster requirement for students and employees
Initial protocols for your return to campus
Spring 2022 Testing
COVID-19 Booster Requirement
For the Fall 2021 semester, 99% of our students and 98% of our employees were fully vaccinated. This level of vaccination, along with masking and other campus mitigation efforts, helped us successfully navigate the fall. Recent studies show that the vaccine booster adds to the protection provided by the initial vaccination series, and the CDC now recommends the booster for everyone age 16 and older. Vaccines, fortified with a booster, reduce infection, shorten the period an individual is contagious, protect against serious illness, and lower the risk of further transmission. Given this information and the circumstances with the Delta and Omicron variants, Connecticut College is requiring students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster by February 1 or within 14 days of becoming eligible.
Eligible individuals are those who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago. Roughly 94% of vaccinated students are eligible for a vaccine before Jan. 21, 2022, therefore the vast majority of you can receive the booster before we begin the spring semester. Recent illness may impact when you can recieve a booster, so you should consult with your medical provider if you are sick around the time that you plan to receive the booster. If you have other questions about booster vaccines and eligibility, please refer to the CDC website. The CDC has recently updated their guidance with a preference for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).
All those who are eligible are expected, then, to receive the booster and upload documentation into the Student Health Services Portal before returning to campus. Many of you already received the booster during one of our on-campus booster clinics–please take a moment to upload your vaccine card. Those of you who have not received the booster may find it difficult to get an appointment given the high demand for boosters due to the current conditions across the country. Please plan ahead to schedule a day and time to get the booster in your community as soon as possible.
If you are among the 1% of students who received an approved exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination, you will continue to be exempt from the booster requirement.
Once you have received your COVID-19 booster, you are required to provide proper verification to the College. You can do this by going to the Online Student Health Services Portal and following these steps:
Take a picture (or scan) of your completed COVID-19 booster vaccination card and save it to your desktop
Click on My Forms
Click on COVID-19 Booster
Enter the date for your specific COVID-19 booster
Click on Select File
Browse for your saved file on your desktop and select it
Note: Please DO NOT upload your vaccination record into CoVerified. We are using that platform for faculty and staff only.
Return to Campus
As I’ve communicated in recent messages, every student is required to get tested before returning to campus. In order to make this easier, we’ve provided test kits for you to take with you over the break. The test kit contains two tests (one for your return to campus in January and one for your return to campus in March after spring break). You should test yourself as you are leaving for campus (no more than 24 hours before arrival in New London). Carefully follow the instructions provided with the test kit. Document the result by taking a photograph of the result beside a paper with your name, date, time of the test and your signature (see sample attached). You will show this photograph at the College Testing Center when you arrive on campus.
If you did not receive a kit on campus or if you lose the kit, then you can either purchase your own test kit online, at a pharmacy, or other location that sells test kits. Over the counter test kits cost roughly $25 (common brands are Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue). You may also get tested through other means (urgent care, local testing center, etc.). A lab test must be done within 72 hours of returning to campus. The College will not be sending kits in the mail.
Once you leave campus, you may not return to campus until your designated return day. For the vast majority of students, your return day is Jan. 23, 2022. Some students may return earlier if they are pre-approved through specific host programs (e.g. athletics, academic or administrative department) or have made arrangements with the Office of Residential Education and Living. Students approved to be on campus for the duration of the break may come and go from campus and must test on campus according to the schedule provided by the Office of Residential Education and Living.
You are expected to return to campus when the Testing Center is open on Jan. 23 so that you can show your pre-arrival test result and complete your onboarding PCR test. The Testing Center will be open on Jan, 23 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The appointment schedule will be available in CoVerified after Jan. 18. If you are arriving on another day in late December or January, your host program or the Office of Residential Education and Living will tell you when to arrive. Once you are on campus, you will resume twice weekly testing.
Spring 2022 Testing
Students will continue with twice weekly testing. A new option that we will be offering at the Testing Center is rapid antigen testing for students with symptoms in order to quickly determine if the symptoms are due to COVID-19. This will provide you with a result within fifteen minutes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays, regardless of your assigned PCR testing day. This rapid result option for students with symptoms will also help relieve some of the demand for appointments at Student Health Services so that students have more access to appointments. I’ll share more details with you in January.
We anticipate that many of the same protocols we had this fall semester will continue in the spring semester. We are also closely monitoring the situation with Omicron and will make adjustments as necessary in January as we prepare for the spring semester. We will communicate this information to you as soon as possible.
I hope that you have a restful break and I look forward to seeing you on campus for the spring semester.
Dean of Students