By Nicole DeJacimo, Managing Editor, and Phoebe Doscher, Editor-in-Chief
Gettysburg College will begin classes as planned on Jan. 17, 2022, with additional testing and vaccination requirements, according to a campus-wide email from the administration. Upon arrival, in-person classes and activities will be restricted and students will be tested for COVID-19. The changes come based on the Omicron variant and the nationwide trajectory of the virus.
Campus Arrival and Testing
Everyone returning to campus, regardless of vaccination status, must upload proof of a negative COVID-19 test to the Medicat Portal within 72 hours of arrival; tests can be antigen or PCR. Anyone with a positive test must quarantine for at least five days from the date of the positive test at home before returning to campus. Those who are asymptomatic—meaning they have not had a fever for 24 hours—on the sixth day can return to school and work must mask indoors through the tenth day and refrain from eating and drinking around others.
Students who tested positive in the last three months can upload their positive test results from then instead of testing again. Those who cannot receive a test ahead of time will test at the Mobile Health testing site, which is located in Plank Gym, on Monday, Jan. 17.
All students must then test at the Mobile Health testing site between Jan. 17–19 and will receive a testing time next week. For the first four weeks of the semester, the College will require every student to test once a week, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated students will continue to test every week throughout the semester.
For the first week, all classes will be held online, meals will be grab-and-go style, and there will be limited access to certain buildings on campus. The college has not yet specified which buildings. In addition, formal in-person events, such as registered parties or club meetings, will be prohibited.
Masking will return for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status in all indoor areas except for when someone is actively eating, alone in a personal office, or in their assigned dorm room or apartment. This will require masking in common areas within residence halls, unlike the fall semester.
With the exception of those helping students move in, the College will not allow any visitors in campus residence halls. Those helping with move-in must be masked at all times and the College recommends limiting time spent indoors.
Quarantine and Isolation
Any student who tests positive must isolate at home if they live within 300 miles of the college. For those who are asymptomatic by day six of isolation, they may return to campus and in-person classes but must be masked at all times until ten days after their positive test or notification of contact. The College recommends those students to not eat or drink indoors with others. It is not clear what the college will require of students who live beyond the 300-mile radius who test positive but the college will provide some resources.
Students who comes into close contact with someone who tested positive do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic, and are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated and is identified as a close contact must quarantine for at least five days regardless of symptoms.
Vaccine Booster Requirement
The College requires that all students get their COVID-19 booster shot within two weeks of eligibility. They anticipate the majority of campus to be boosted by Feb. 15, 2022. Students must upload their vaccination cards to the electronic medical records system Medicat within five days of receiving the booster.
Students with medical or religious exemptions to the initial vaccination requirement do not need to re-submit an exemption form. Those with new exemptions or who are not eligible for the vaccine by Feb. 15 must email Sue Plank from Health Services.
Students who are unable to get booster shots before returning to campus may sign up for the on-campus booster clinic on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Jan. 28 from noon to 4 p.m.
Faculty and Staff
The College encourages faculty and staff to update Human Resources on their vaccination and booster status via email. Likewise, faculty and staff are required to contact HR if they test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as close contact. All faculty and staff members are allowed one free test a week for the spring semester and the college will require weekly testing for any faculty and staff members who have not received or shown proof of vaccination.
The College plans to send updates via email and update the COVID Dashboard every Monday to track positive cases on campus.