Dear Kenyon staff, students and families,
The pandemic is again challenging us with a time of rapid change. COVID-19 cases nationwide have continued to increase over the past week, driven at least in part by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Based on the evolving science on the viral variants and the epidemiology of COVID-19, the CDC has recently updated its guidelines on isolation and quarantine and has strengthened its recommendations regarding vaccination and boosters. In response to these rapidly changing circumstances, colleges and universities are reexamining their plans for the spring term, and we wanted to update the Kenyon community on our current status.
During the break, Kenyon’s campus has been quiet, but not empty. A small number of students have remained on campus, and some athletes have already returned to Gambier. Thankfully, our case numbers have remained low, and we currently have only one resident student in isolation. As more students will be arriving on campus in the coming days, we want to promote a thoughtful and cautious return to campus. At this time, we want to communicate four important points:
Effective today, December 30, Kenyon is operating at Campus Activity Level 3. Meetings and events should be conducted remotely, and non-essential, unsupervised college-sponsored travel by students is prohibited. Masks should be worn indoors in all spaces, including the Lowry Center, except when alone in a private space or in a dorm room with roommate(s).
We plan to begin the spring semester as scheduled, with classes starting on Monday, January 17. Campus Activity Level 3 will extend through at least the first week of classes, as we conduct a round of comprehensive student testing. We strongly encourage all students to test before traveling back to campus and, if positive, to inform us at firstname.lastname@example.org and complete their isolation at home.
COVID-19 boosters are now required for all Kenyon students who have not submitted an approved medical or religious exemption. All students who received their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines more than 6 months ago, or who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago, should get a booster before returning to campus if at all possible. Students must submit their booster documentation via the PyraMED's student portal (use your Kenyon username and email address password, select “Document Upload” in the top right menu, and choose the appropriate vaccine manufacturer from the dropdown menu). Health Services has already updated the records of students who received their COVID-19 vaccine booster at the campus clinic on November 17. Students who do not upload their booster documentation by February 7 will not be considered up-to-date on their immunizations and will be subject to disciplinary action due to noncompliance.
At this time, we are retaining our existing isolation and quarantine protocols. Over the next two weeks, we will assess our practices in the context of the CDC’s latest guidelines and in consultation with our local public health partners.
As always, these decisions are made to safeguard the Kenyon community while still maintaining an engaged academic and campus life experience. More details will be provided next week as we work through how our rapidly changing pandemic circumstances, scientific knowledge, and public health guidance will impact life on the hill. On behalf of the Steering Committee, I want to thank all of you for your resilience and patience as we navigate yet another turbulent time. And despite the serious nature of these issues, I also wish you all a safe, warm and happy new year!
Chair, COVID-19 Steering Committee