By Nicole DeJacimo, Managing Editor
This past week, Vice President for College Life Anne Ehrlich and Provost Chris Zappe announced the College will require indoor masking for all students, staff, and families regardless of vaccination status until further notice, effective August 23.
This interim change results from monitoring the high transmission rate of COVID-19 in Adams County, according to the CDC, the trajectory of the Delta variant, and the increased possibility of transmission with students and families coming to campus for move-in.
In the interim period, only Gettysburg students, faculty, and staff members are permitted in residence halls, with the exception of families on Move-In Day. Families helping with move-in must wear masks indoors and limit the number of individuals and their time spent in the residence hall. The college plans to revisit the residence hall visitor policy in the coming weeks.
Guided by CDC guidelines and public health experts, the college will continue to actively monitor the state of COVID-19 in the region, across the nation, on the college campus, and in the surrounding community. Ehrlich and Zappe anticipate that this policy change will be temporary.
“Our commitment is to evaluate our entire set of COVID-19 policies at least weekly, again with the goal of providing students with as normal an experience as we can, consistent with the public health conditions,” they said in the email.
For now, all staff and students, whether they are inoculated or not, must wear a mask indoors with the exception of when they are eating or drinking, when a vaccinated student is in their residence hall, or when an employee is alone in their personal workspace.
The recent communication also outlined the latest updates to testing. The frequency of COVID-19 PCR tests for those who have not submitted vaccination information or who are unvaccinated has increased from every other week to every week. The email reiterated that students who are vaccinated will not participate in surveillance testing.
“As always, we are closely monitoring public health guidance and infection rates, and will adapt our testing protocol as data warrants.”
Ehrlich told The Gettysburgian that as of yesterday, 81.6 percent of employees are partially or fully vaccinated. The college expects students to reach a 97.1 percent vaccination rate for the fall semester, though not immediately. “Some students do not have access to the vaccine at home and will be receiving it upon arrival, so this rate will not be the exact rate on opening day,” Ehrlich said.
She also said the interim masking policy will be contingent on transmission rates. “We have a strong desire to resume more normal protocols in the near term, and low transmission rates will be a key factor that determines our approach,” Ehrlich said.