Dear Campus Community,
Consistent with national and global trends, we are seeing increased COVID-19 transmission within the local area and our campus. The latest data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows a COVID-19 positivity rate in Kalamazoo County of 28.7%. Fortunately, cases seen at the Student Health Center have been largely asymptomatic or have presented with mild symptoms. However, because of the high level of transmission in our area and throughout the state, the College is putting in place some additional mitigation measures, effective immediately.
- Masking Inside and Out
- Masking is now required in all public areas of campus, including outdoors. This follows CDC recommendations that encourage outdoor masking in areas of high transmission.
- Residence halls: Students are required to mask in residence halls anytime they are indoors, including their own rooms if they are sharing the space with individuals who are not roommates. Unmasking is permitted in a student’s own room in the presence of roommates if all roommates are comfortable with that arrangement. This guidance is not new; however, it will be strictly enforced and noncompliance could result in consequences up to and including suspension from residence halls.
- Again, please wear the mask properly over nose and mouth and do not pull it down to talk/sneeze/cough. Wear a snug-fitting mask with two or more layers.
- The College is working to secure extra N95/KN95 masks for distribution to individuals who may be seeking a higher-filtration mask.
- Temporary restrictions on visitors
- Residence Halls: Students are not permitted to invite visitors from outside campus to visit and stay in residence halls. Parents and other visitors may drop off items to students.
- Any upcoming visits to campus should be reviewed for need (can a planned visit be accomplished virtually?). For visitors who will be spending time on campus (example: job candidates, guest lecturers), vaccination including boosters (if eligible) will be required. Any exceptions must be approved by President’s Staff.
- Eating and Drinking
- Eating and drinking poses a higher risk for COVID transmission. For this reason, eating and drinking may be restricted in areas of buildings where it is normally allowed. Please watch for signage.
- If you are hosting in-person meetings, please eliminate food/drink or make these items grab-and-go.
- At this time, Dining will be operating normally and is providing grab-and-go items; if transmission continues to increase on campus we are prepared to switch to fully grab-and-go options.
Per yesterday’s Hornet Hive, we encourage you to sign up for our on-site booster clinics if you are eligible (the latest eligibility timeframes are five months if your initial regimen was Pfizer, six months if your regimen was Moderna, and two months if your initial shot was J&J). Walk-in booster clinics are also available off-campus Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the Kalamazoo County Health Department.
We have been living with COVID-19 for many months now, and we have many tools to reduce transmission and severity of illness. This has allowed not just our campus, but our larger community, to move from a “zero transmission” strategy to a “managing transmission” strategy.
For this to be effective, however, every member of the community has to be committed to health protocols and encourage one another to follow them—politely reminding each other of proper mask use and ensuring we are gathering safely, for example. Let’s do our best to care for one another as we manage through this latest COVID challenge.
J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students
Danette Ifert Johnson