Campus Operations and Business Continuity Update

Hi all,

Here’s a sort-of-Ops-update in brief, applicable to folks on campus this summer. We don’t have a listserv just for people who are still here. So those who are off campus right now can either delete or read it, if you’re really desperate for arcane policy details.

We’re unlikely to need a weekly email over the summer—I sure hope we don’t—but I do expect to send occasional updates whenever we have Covid-related news or policy changes to share on a just-in-time basis.

Before jumping in, let me say that I hope you all had a good wrapup to the spring semester. For those whose work isn’t closely tied to the academic schedule, I hope all’s continuing to go well. And for everyone, I hope you could enjoy the return to in-person Commencement and Reunion if you were able.

Now here’s all the news that’s fit to print:

Masking

Given the significant de-densification (jargon alert) that happens after move-out and the transition to summer, we’re shifting to a mask-optional policy for campus starting today.

Emphasis on optional. Here are a couple of areas of notable flexibility:

  • Consistent with our approach during previous mask-optional periods, individual offices and academic units may choose to continue requiring masks. Managers, you can make these decisions with your teams. If you decide to require continued masking, please post signs at your entrance points to your area to let folks know.
  • Faculty may continue to require masking in labs and classes at their discretion.
  • Event organizers may choose to continue requiring masks at their gatherings. We encourage this especially for organizers of large indoor gatherings (defined loosely).
  • Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff may also unmask at their discretion. Since research indicates that unvaccinated folks face a higher risk of severe symptoms and need for hospitalization, we encourage everyone to carefully consider how to protect themselves before making a decision.

A final note: I’ve been the only masked person in a few meetings lately, so I know it can feel awkward. Please, everyone, be aware of that dynamic and do what you can to make people around you feel comfortable with the right choice for their needs.

As always, we’ll continue to review the public health data and research, and may revert to a stricter policy if we feel it’s needed.

Athletic facilities now open to community members

Campus athletics and fitness facilities are now reopened for use by community members, as well as students, faculty and staff. I had previously announced that this was likely to happen after Reunions ended, on June 12. But I didn’t subsequently confirm that the decision had actually been made. I apologize for not doing so sooner, but card access has in the meantime been turned back on for people with community memberships, effective immediately. Please enjoy use of the facilities!

Future prospects

Just an FYI that Maud has continued to consult with outside public health experts, as in the past, and Senior Staff is spending time this summer reviewing our Covid principles and policies. We do this to keep ourselves in line with emerging knowledge about Covid. It’s an ongoing process—not to say a moving target—so we’ll keep you updated on an ongoing basis. If I had to sum things up, we seem to be at a point where people everywhere are trying to find the right balance between institutional protection and personal responsibility. There’s no one right answer, and the fulcrum keeps shifting. But we’re doing out best.

Relatedly: we’re a long way from feeling confident enough to announce policies for fall yet. We’ll do so later in the summer.

That’s all. I know this is a busier time than usual for many of us still on campus, but I wish you all many opportunities to safely enjoy the season whenever and however you can!

Jim