On Tuesday, Michigan public health officials presented the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, noting that the state’s strategies are focused on preventing severe outcomes and death, protecting health care capacity and keeping vital infrastructure, such as schools, functioning amid the latest surge.
Michigan’s chief medical executive (and Kalamazoo College alumna) Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian noted that vaccines, masks, distancing, ventilation, tests and antibody treatment are the tools that will be utilized going forward. Kalamazoo College’s approach is and has been closely aligned with the strategies recommended by public health experts. As COVID-19 evolves and eventually becomes endemic (consistently present, like influenza), we will continue to rely on science and advice from experts to guide us.
Our nearly 100% vaccination rate on campus, our strict masking requirements and our testing availability on campus factor into our decision to remain in-person at this time. While our cases have increased, they have been very mild or asymptomatic, following the national trend with populations that are vaccinated and boosted. Universities and colleges that started their terms online are also seeing increased transmission trends; this is likely because transmission most commonly happens outside of classrooms in places where masking and vaccination are less strictly enforced or entirely absent.
That is why it is absolutely CRITICAL for each of us to take the same precautions outside of class that we take inside the classroom during this surge. That is why it is also important for the College to strictly enforce our health protocols, and we rely on one another to kindly remind and insist upon following them. If you are reminded by faculty, staff, RA’s, campus safety, or your peers to follow our protocols, please be respectful and remember that following the guidelines is everyone’s responsibility. We are all experiencing COVID fatigue, however, it is never appropriate to respond with rude or hostile behavior.
As we approach week three of the term, we want to provide updates on some key items related to our health protocols:
COVID-19 Testing for January 17
- There will not be COVID-19 testing on Monday, January 17, in the Student Health Center as the campus is closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Refer to the SHC website for options for testing and care.
- We wanted to remind students that there are to-go containers at stations throughout Welles Dining Hall. Please take advantage of this grab-and-go option if you would prefer take out to in-person dining in Welles.
- Some students have asked why we have not switched to fully grab-and-go dining. We recognize that the dining hall is an area of campus where there is an increased risk of transmission; however, previous experience with grab-and-go has shown us that closing the dining hall simply creates situations where students find other common areas to congregate and dine (Hicks atrium, residence hall lounges, etc.). This does not reduce the transmission risk, and it also creates problems with our waste stream as meal containers are disposed of across campus. Therefore, we feel the most practical option is to leave the dining hall open while also providing to-go options to meet a variety of student needs.
Quarantine and Isolation (QI) Housing
- We have recently expanded the number of beds available for isolation by incorporating additional college-owned housing. Unfortunately, in the process of quickly preparing this housing, we missed some areas in cleaning one of the units; the student placed there was transferred to another location while we resolved the issue. The house was inspected by the health department based on student concerns and no issues were identified and no citations were given. We apologize for the added stress that this created during an already stressful time.
- The COVID-19 dashboard is being updated on a daily basis. This dashboard includes the results of the COVID-19 diagnostic tests administered on campus, as well as self-reported student and employee data.
- As a reminder, students who test independently through home tests or other testing sites should contact the Student Health Center through MyChart or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to report a positive test. The SHC will notify faculty regarding your positive test and the dates of your isolation period, as they do for students who test positive through the SHC.
COVID-19 Booster Reminder
- There will be a second booster clinic on campus on Thursday, January 20, 2022, from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. in Hicks Banquet Room West. Appointments are required and limited to first come, first served. Visit https://hr.kzoo.edu/c19booster/ to learn more and to make an appointment.
- Students who receive a booster off-campus should send a copy of their updated vaccine card to email@example.com to update their record. Records must be updated by March 1 (or upon eligibility if CDC eligibility date is later).
- Students who receive a booster on campus need to take no further action.
- CAN I GET A BOOSTER IF I AM SICK OR EXPOSED? If you are COVID-19 positive you should wait until your isolation period ends before seeking a booster. If you have been exposed and are experiencing any symptoms, you should also wait to schedule a booster until a confirmed negative test. If someone has been exposed but is symptom-free or has had a negative test, they are welcome to proceed with a booster.
Thank you for Protecting the Hive,
J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students
Danette Ifert Johnson