Update about COVID response plans: snapshot testing
President Raymond's announcement of COVID snapshot testing during the week of September 13-17, 2021
On this second day of classes, I am so happy to welcome you back or welcome you anew! In advance of a fuller letter to campus later in the week, I wish to offer a brief update to our COVID-19 response plans. This comes in the context of my gratitude for your care for one another, evidenced by masking up indoors and with over 97% of students, staff, and faculty vaccinated.
Individual responsibility within a community of care is our mode this fall. Thank you to everyone who made last year’s navigations possible at Haverford, through caring for others’ well-being.
Our COVID safety protocols allow us to start with a baseline of protection for all, afforded by vaccination and masking. With select allowances for unmasking (dorms, dining, and private workspaces, for example), individuals have the latitude to unmask in some circumstances but are never required to unmask, nor is anyone required to have more than incidental contact with unmasked individuals if that is their preference. This approach is intended to allow each student and faculty and staff member to manage their own COVID risks according to their own needs, while also supporting each others’ preferences and needs.
We have developed this fall’s COVID mitigation strategy jointly with Bryn Mawr College. Our consistent guidance from the CDC, our infectious disease advisors, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Montgomery County has been that we will be able to mitigate COVID risk sufficiently in our return to in-person activities with typical density in the vast majority of indoor and outdoor spaces, without the need for vaccinated individuals to socially distance or to have regular surveillance testing.
However, even though we do not plan to institute ongoing surveillance testing as we did last year, we plan to conduct a snapshot test of all students, faculty, and staff for COVID-19 the week of September 13-17. We will learn from these results about how well our system is working, and adapt as needed. Bryn Mawr is planning similarly.
It is important to remember that the purpose of testing is to monitor the effectiveness of COVID mitigation measures. It does not prevent one from infection. Vaccination combined with masking are the most effective mitigation measures.
Specific dates and details for the tests will follow in days ahead. Thank you in advance for your participation in this important process, and for all you do to support your own and one another's well-being.