COVID-19 Update: New CDC Guidance


Dear Kenyon Community,

On Friday, February 25, the CDC announced a new system of COVID-19 Community Levels to guide decision-making about community prevention strategies and individual preventative behaviors. This new guidance balances two truths. First, widely available and accessible vaccines have substantially reduced the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death for most people. Second, some remain at higher risk for serious illness and face challenging decisions navigating a world with COVID-19. 

The new guidance represents a shift towards treating COVID-19 as an endemic pathogen, rather than an epidemic crisis. While past CDC guidance focused on case numbers and rates of spread, the new system of community levels incorporates information on hospital admission and utilization rates for COVID-19 patients. Knox County is currently at the Medium level. Under these circumstances, the CDC recommends that individuals at higher risk for severe illness consider masking, especially in higher risk settings, but more comprehensive mask mandates are not deemed necessary. Institutionally, at the Medium and Low Community Levels, the focus is instead on ensuring equitable access to vaccination, testing, treatment, support, and information.

So what does this mean for Kenyon?

Throughout the pandemic, we have based our policies on data and up-to-date guidance from the CDC and local partners at KPH, in the context of changing circumstances both locally and globally. In light of this new guidance from the CDC, as well as policy changes implemented by KPH and the Village of Gambier, starting today, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at 5 p.m., and continuing as long as Knox County remains at the Medium or Low COVID-19 Community Level, the College will be moving to a new Campus Activity Level 0.

Under Campus Activity Level 0, the following guidance applies.


Masks are not required in any indoor public spaces for individuals, unless they were recently exposed to COVID-19 or were recently recovered themselves. At the same time, anyone who wishes to wear a mask will be supported in doing so, at any time. To ensure that individuals can protect themselves, high efficiency KN95 masks are available for students for free at Campus Safety, as long as supplies last.

Masks may be required in specific, bounded private spaces. The requirement should be made clear through signage (PDF) or other communication. Examples include:

  • Classrooms, studios, and laboratories, at the discretion of the instructor.
  • Offices and conference rooms, at the discretion of the occupant, supervisor, or host.
  • Private student residential spaces, with consensus from all occupants.
  • Some reception and gathering areas, such as the Cox Health & Counseling Center.

At times of increased spread of the virus on campus, masks may be strongly encouraged indoors to limit the spread of the virus, even if Knox County is not at the High COVID-19 Community Level.


Unvaccinated students are required to test weekly. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are available to all students, up to one kit per week, at the Campus Mail Center in Gund Commons. Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 should test at least 5 days after their last known exposure or immediately if they develop symptoms.

Isolation and quarantine

Isolation and quarantine guidance continues to follow CDC guidelines. A student who tests positive isolates themselves in their room on campus. As is currently the case, they are responsible for informing close contacts. Isolation lasts 5 days from either the symptom onset date or the date of the positive test, provided the student is fever-free and symptoms have improved. If this is not the case, or if the student tests positive again on day 5 or after, isolation extends to 10 days. Individuals returning from isolation wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days. Individuals exposed to COVID-19 wear a mask around others for 5 days after their last exposure.

Health Services continues to provide guidance and medical care to students who test positive, as well as to individuals with medical issues that put them at greater risk for severe illness.


All classes are conducted in person. Instructors may require masks as described above.

Events and Meetings

There are no specific limits on meetings and events. College-sponsored events are mask-optional, but event organizers may require masks if that requirement is clearly communicated in advance.

Informal Gatherings

There are no specific restrictions on informal student gatherings in residence halls or outdoors. 

Athletics and Recreation

Varsity and club sports teams follow NCAA and Conference guidelines. The Lowry Center is open for recreation to all members of the Kenyon Community.


All buildings and common spaces are open during normal operating hours.


There are no restrictions on travel, but travelers are encouraged to examine the COVID-19 Community Level of their destination and make appropriate choices.


There are no restrictions on visitors in campus buildings, but they must adhere to all relevant COVID-19 guidelines.


The dining hall is open for students, employees, and visitors. Takeout is available.

Campus Offices

All campus offices are open in person, and alternative work arrangements are available as per the College remote work policy.


Case numbers on campus are reported weekly on the College COVID-19 Dashboard. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to check the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level for Knox County, linked from Kenyon’s dashboard, to make appropriate choices.

We recognize the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices that the community has made through each phase of the pandemic, and the patience and resilience that have been necessary to learn to live with COVID-19. But while these efforts have successfully kept the community safe, we also must recognize the cost that we have collectively paid; masks impair our ability to communicate both verbally and visually, and our efforts have left many feeling painfully isolated and disconnected from their community. COVID-19 is still with us, but the widespread availability of vaccination, rapid antigen tests, and high efficiency masks, which protect the wearer even when others are not masked, has opened up the opportunity to relax community-level restrictions without compromising the safety of more vulnerable individuals.


Drew Kerkhoff
Associate Provost and Professor of Biology
Chair of the COVID-19 Steering Committee