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Update on COVID Preparations for Spring Semester – A Message from President Clark to Employees

Office of the President
Monday 1/10/2022

Subject: Update on COVID Preparations for Spring Semester - A Message from President Clark to Employees

 

Dear colleagues,

Happy New Year! I am writing to provide you with a few updates since my last communication on December 21. At the outset, it is important to note that all of our decisions comply with the public health memoranda of agreements negotiated with the three unions (including a remote learning impact bargaining agreement reached a few days ago with the statewide MSCA) and draw on the best public health guidance available to us.

While there is much concern over the Omicron variant, I want to assure you that BSU is well prepared for bringing all students and employees back to campus as safely as possible for the start of the spring semester. We have ample tests and tens of thousands of CDC-approved masks available to our campus community at no cost. Our campus is more than 96% fully vaccinated and thousands of students and employees have already attested to receiving a booster shot.

We are also mindful of the ongoing national conversation regarding the importance of in-person learning and activities for student mental health during these difficult times. I would ask each member of the campus community to be patient and understanding with each other and with our students as we all do our very best in navigating these unprecedented and historic challenges.

Classes

Classes will begin as scheduled on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. However, during the first three days of the semester, from January 19-21, all classes will be held remotely. Residential students will move into their residence halls on time and as previously scheduled.

We are moving all classes to remote modalities on January 19 to 21 to ensure that students who are required to test before moving into residence halls, and all other students who wish to be tested, have time and opportunity to do so. Your professors for in-person classes will contact you with details about how to attend classes remotely the first three days.

In-person classes will meet in classrooms beginning on Monday, January 24. At this time, we anticipate that all classes during the semester will be conducted in the modality for which students registered as of the 24th.

It is important to note that only classes are moving to remote from January 19-21. All other offices (including those providing student services, dining, and the library) will be open during this period.

As noted above, this decision complies with the statewide agreement recently negotiated in the Employee Relations Committee with the MSCA and was informed by recommendations of the Academic Continuity and Health & Safety subcommittees of BSU’s Together Again Task Force. We will continue to monitor the evolving public health situation through the institutional COVID Planning and Response Group and the Together Again Task Force.

Testing

As previously announced, all residence hall students, whether fully vaccinated or exempted, must provide a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Rapid/Antigen) prior to move-in. BSU will also require all residence hall students to test again on campus on January 25th or 26th and on February 1st or 2nd.

We are encouraging all commuter students to test prior to the resumption of in-person classes on January 24, and we are providing opportunities to do so. We also encourage employees to test at no cost through the Wellness Center. Testing, coupled with being fully vaccinated and wearing a mask indoors, provides a strong measure of protection against the Omicron variant.

We know that COVID tests can be difficult to find right now. The Wellness Center is offering several days of testing prior to move-in if students prefer to test on campus.

  • Tuesday, January 11: By appointment (call 508.531.1252) in BSU Wellness Center
  • Wednesday, January 12: Open testing in Dunn Conference Suite (Crimson Hall) from 12:00PM-4:00PM
  • Thursday-Friday, January 13-14: By appointment (call 508.531.1252) all day at the back door of the BSU Wellness Center
  • Saturday-Monday, January 15-17: No on-campus testing available
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, January 18-19: Open testing in Dunn Conference Suite (Crimson Hall) from 8:30AM-4:00PM

BSU will also require all residence hall students to test again on campus on January 25th or 26th and on February 1st or 2nd. Testing will be available on those days from 8:30AM-4:00PM in the Dunn Conference Suite.

We are encouraging all commuter students who are attending in-person classes (and faculty and staff) to test before we begin in-person classes on January 24. There is never any cost for testing at BSU, and all members of the BSU community are welcome to come without an appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30AM-4:00PM in the Dunn Conference Suite throughout the semester. As a reminder, all students who are granted a vaccine exemption must participate in weekly testing through the Wellness Center.

Testing will be available at no cost to all members of the BSU community on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30AM-4:00PM in the Dunn Conference Suite throughout the semester. As a reminder, all employees and students who are granted a vaccine exemption must participate in weekly testing through the Wellness Center.

Booster Shot

The best way to protect yourself from the Omicron variant is to be vaccinated and boosted.  BSU is requiring that all students attending any in-person classes, living in residence halls, conducting research on campus, participating in any on-campus activities, or working on campus (unless you have received a medical or religious exemption) receive a COVID-19 booster shot during the spring semester.  There will be a rolling deadline for receiving the booster shot based on the type and timing of your final vaccination shot.  All adults can receive a booster shot 5 months after their Moderna or Pfizer second shots, and 2 months after a Johnson and Johnson vaccination (see the CDC website for more information).

You can utilize this online form to attest to your booster status or to indicate that you are vaccinated but not yet boosted and then update the form when you receive your booster.

BSU will hold its first booster clinics of the Spring semester on Friday, January 21, and Monday, January 24.  We will have bothModerna and Pfizer available and you will be able to select your preferred booster when you sign up for an appointment.  A sign-up link will be sent from the Wellness Center soon.  BSU plans to run booster clinics every two weeks on Fridays during the semester pending vaccine availability and demand.

Masking

The BSU mandatory indoor masking is extended until March 4th as previously announced.  BSU will again provide tens of thousands of CDC-approved masks for the entire campus community.  Proper mask wearing has always been important during the pandemic to help stop the spread of COVID, but it is even more important now that we remain vigilant in wearing our masks properly in all indoor spaces on campus.  Current CDC guidance for masks and proper mask-wearing can be found here.

With more than 96% of our campus vaccinated and ample supplies of tests, masks, and boosters available on campus, BSU is among the safest places you can be.  BSU will continue to assist you with receiving your booster and testing throughout the coming months.  Please visit the BSU COVID-19 page for current information.  We look forward to a great semester!

Warmest regards,

Fred Clark
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.
President