June 1, 2021
Dear Faculty and Staff,
As we transition from the end of the spring semester into summer, we write today with some updates about summer operations and protocols with regard to our continued management of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some important information for employees about the fall semester.
First, we want to thank you all for your hard work and dedication to Trinity and for your continued support of the college’s pandemic response work. We know that for many of you, this has been an exhausting and challenging year, and we are deeply grateful for all you have done to help us get to and through the spring semester and Commencement.
We also are encouraged by the rate of COVID-19 vaccination in the state and the vast majority of Trinity employees who reported in a recent survey that they were either already vaccinated or planning to be very soon. This, together with evolving data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), means we are able to provide updated guidance on a number of our protocols and plans for the summer, which are outlined below.
Working on Campus
We will continue to operate at a reduced density until August 2, though we will allow some additional employees to resume working on campus this summer as part of a gradual return to full campus operations. Those already approved to work on campus may continue to do so; those who have been working remotely and wish to return to campus this summer should consult with their managers, who will seek approval from the college. We strongly encourage any employees working on campus this summer to be fully vaccinated when they return. Anyone who isn’t vaccinated will be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly on campus.
COVID-19 Testing at Trinity
As more and more of our population becomes vaccinated, we are transitioning the testing facility that has operated every weekday in the Ferris Athletic Center to a smaller operation that will operate out of the Health Center. Beginning tomorrow, June 2, and throughout the summer, the Health Center will offer COVID-19 testing to employees on Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vaccinated employees will not need to be tested, but, as noted above, those who aren’t will be tested weekly. Appointments are not required.
The detailed visitor policy we had in place for the academic year is no longer in effect; visitors are welcome to campus this summer. They will be required to wear masks indoors and to adhere to guidelines for gathering sizes in indoor spaces to accommodate 6-foot physical distancing.
Likewise, the travel policy we had in place for the academic year is no longer in effect; faculty and staff may resume college-related/sponsored travel in accordance with CDC travel guidance, which differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. It also has guidance specific to domestic and international travel. International college-related/sponsored travel by employees is prohibited to all areas categorized by the CDC as Level 4 risks, where the COVID-19 level is “very high.” Such travel to Level 3 areas is permissible in very limited circumstances and must be approved by a division head.
Masks and Physical-Distancing Protocols
Given evolving guidance and public health science, and knowing that most of our campus community is or soon will be vaccinated, we are lifting the mask-wearing mandate for outdoors, though anyone who feels more comfortable continuing to wear masks should certainly feel free to do so. Indoors, you should continue to wear masks generally, though it is permissible for small groups of fully vaccinated individuals working together in research labs or shared office space to not wear masks if all members of the group feel comfortable and agree to do so. Employees should consult their managers or department heads to set appropriate, agreed-upon practices for your environment.
As for physical distancing: Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to practice distancing outdoors. Indoors, the issue is more complicated, especially as CDC guidance evolves. We will continue to watch that guidance and make a decision later this month with regard to indoor distancing requirements for the fall. For now, those working on campus should practice 6-foot distancing indoors. We encourage groups of employees to continue hosting staff meetings and other gatherings remotely (via Zoom or Teams) for now, or to meet outside when possible.
Vaccination Requirement for Fall
In the coming weeks, we will develop more specific plans for the fall semester. For now, please refer to the April 28 message for a sense of our aims for the fall. Today, we want to share the news that the college has decided to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees. We are encouraged that so many within our community are already vaccinated. We have listened to you and are continuing to follow local, state, and federal guidance concerning vaccinations. What is clear is that for our campus community, the path forward—to living, learning, and working on campus—is through vaccination.
To help ensure the health and safety of you and your colleagues, as well as our students and the community with which we interact, we will require all staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated by Monday, August 2 (meaning two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or past the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines). We will provide a process by which those needing exemptions for religious or medical reasons may request one. And we will provide a process by which employees can submit proof of their vaccination.
August 2 is also the date at which the campus will begin to resume full, normal operations and when new policies and protocols for physical distancing, mask-wearing, campus visitors, travel, and more will go into effect. We know that many folks have been working on campus throughout the pandemic—and we are deeply grateful for your efforts. For others—who have been working diligently while remote—you should consult your manager for the date by which you should plan to return to campus. Different units will resume campus operations at different times throughout the month of August, in advance of the start of classes on September 8.
As noted in our April 28 letter, the college is exploring and assessing new ways to work and how we may continue to provide flexibility in a post-pandemic environment. We will keep you apprised as that work progresses.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation with these protocols and policies related to COVID-19. More detailed information about fall plans will be forthcoming in July.
Joe DiChristina, Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management
Jason Rojas, Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President for External Relations
Anita Davis, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Dan Hitchell, Vice President for Finance and Operations