K Adjusts Q/I Guidelines to CDC Recommendations

Dear Campus Community:

The College has been transitioning its quarantine and isolation (QI) guidelines to align with the latest CDC QI recommendations issued on January 9, 2022.

We will be updating the health protocols on the COVID-19 website; in the meantime, here are four key items that have changed for both students and employees, effective immediately:

  1. Who is Considered Up to date on Vaccinations: The CDC now considers your vaccinations up to date” when you’ve completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination AND a booster (when eligible). If you have completed the primary vaccination series and are not yet eligible for a booster, you are also considered “up to date” until your booster is due. 
    • You are eligible for a booster 5 months after the last dose in your primary series for Moderna or Pfizer, or 2 months after your first J&J dose. A person is considered boosted and up to date right after getting their booster dose.
  2. Who Has to Quarantine When Exposed:
    • If you are not up to date on your vaccinations and have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, there is now a 5-day quarantine period. Stay home and do not go to class/activities/work for at least 5 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home/in your residence hall. Students may grab to-go food and visit the Student Health Center.
    • If you are fully up to date, you do NOT need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms.
    • In either situation, you should mask around others for 10 days, monitor symptoms and test at least 5 days after exposure.
  3. How Long to Isolate When Positive: If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to isolate (stay home and separate from other household members, or transfer to Isolation Housing) for at least 5 days; this is a change from the 10 days that were previously required. (Students who are isolating when this change goes into effect will receive notification from a QI coordinator letting them know what, if any, adjustment will be made to their isolation period.)
  4. Who Performs Contact Tracing: Due to the volume of positive COVID cases, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services department and the Student Health Center are no longer able to do thorough contact tracing. You will need to let anyone that you have been in close contact* with, starting 2 days prior to your positive test or your symptom onset, know that they need to review the current CDC recommendations for exposure to a COVID positive case.

*The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was less than 6 feet away from a confirmed infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, within 2 days prior to illness onset or positive test, even if both parties were masked.

When students take a COVID-19 test through the Student Health Center (SHC), the SHC will provide instructions on next steps for quarantine or isolation when they send you your results. Please read them carefully. If you test positive, whether you live on or off campus, a QI coordinator will also contact you.

With the change to the quarantine period, it’s strongly recommended that you get your booster as soon as possible after becoming eligible. There are additional spots remaining for the January 20 booster clinic if you have not signed up already.

Thank you for Protecting the Hive,

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

Week 2 COVID-19 Updates and Reminders

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.

Dining Options

  • 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.

COVID-19 Dashboard

  • 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 healthsv@kzoo.edu 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 healthsv@kzoo.edu 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
Provost

Additional COVID-19 Mitigation Measures

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.

Thank you,

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

COVID-19 Update

Students:

Welcome back to campus! We hope you had a great winter break and a happy new year.

We are beginning the winter term amidst the latest surge of COVID-19, so we wanted to touch base with you about important health and safety protocols that are essential to maintaining in-person living and learning.

Because the omicron variant is much more transmissible, the combination of getting your booster, wearing masks indoors in public spaces and avoiding large unmasked gatherings is even more critical to mitigating the spread. Please note:

  • Get a boost. COVID-19 booster clinics will be offered to students, faculty and staff on campus on January 14 (9 a.m.–1 p.m.) and January 20 (10 a.m.­­–2 p.m.) in Hicks Banquet Room. You can register for an appointment at https://hr.kzoo.edu/c19booster/.
    • Boosters are required and your booster record must be submitted to the Student Health Center (SHC) by March 1, 2022, or upon earliest CDC eligibility. Students who are not in compliance with the policy may not be permitted to return to campus for spring term. 
    • If you receive a booster on campus, we have your record and no further action will need to be taken.
    • If you have already received a booster off campus, you may send a copy of your updated vaccine card to healthsv@kzoo.edu.
  • Mask up. Masks—worn properly over the nose and mouth—will be required in all indoor spaces unless eating or drinking (and eating and drinking may be restricted in some public areas). Medical-grade face masks, such as N95 or KN95 masks, are most effective against transmission.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. Keeping away from others when symptomatic is essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19, as well as the flu and other viruses.
  • Test if you’re sick with COVID symptoms or have been a close contact. COVID-19 testing will continue to be available to students through the SHC.
    • If you test positive, the College will continue to follow the 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC for higher education and congregate living. If we receive updated guidance in the days or weeks ahead, we will communicate that to campus.
    • If you have been exposed to COVID-19: Fully vaccinated close contacts should get tested within 5-7 days after exposure and wear a mask indoors around others for 14 days after exposure while monitoring symptoms.
  • Be cautious of crowds. Avoid indoor off-campus social gatherings where people are likely to be unmasked or unvaccinated.

Last fall, your vigilance with following health and safety guidelines meant that we were able to return to a more typical Kalamazoo College experience. We ask for your continued care as we enter this next challenging period.

Thank you for protecting the hive.

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

Important COVID-19 Information for Winter Term

Students and Families:

As the highly-transmissible omicron COVID-19 variant spreads across the country, Kalamazoo College continues to monitor the situation closely and communicate regularly with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services department. At this time, we do not expect any changes in class modalities at the start of the term and classes will begin in-person. However, we do have some important updates and reminders to share:

BOOSTERS:

  • All members of our campus community who were fully vaccinated either with a two-dose regimen more than six months ago or a one-dose regimen (J&J) more than two months ago are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster. The College will be requiring that all eligible faculty, staff and students receive a booster as part of K’s vaccine requirements.
    • More information about booster requirements will be communicated after the start of the term. This information will include timelines that account for varying eligibility dates.
    • We will be holding additional booster clinics on campus in January; however, if you are eligible and have access to a booster at your local pharmacy or health department, we strongly encourage you not to wait.
    • If you received a booster on campus in November, we have your record and no further action will need to be taken. If you have already received a booster off campus, you may send a copy of your updated vaccine card to healthsv@kzoo.edu.

TESTING:

  • We request that all students take a COVID-19 test if available (either a home test or a rapid or PCR test at a testing facility) within 48 hours before arriving on campus in January.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19 prior to move-in or a resumption of campus activities, we ask that you remain at home through your isolation period and contact the Student Health Center (SHC) with your positive test result through MyChart. College staff will work with you to notify your professors if there will be any delay to starting classes.
    • You do not need to provide a negative test result to the SHC.
    • If you are unable to access a COVID test and/or arrive on campus after testing with concerns about symptoms or possible exposure, please contact the Student Health Center when you arrive and mask at all times in public until you receive a negative test.

MASKING:

  • As noted in our November communication to students, the College will continue its indoor masking policy for the winter term.
  • PLEASE WEAR MASKS PROPERLY OVER NOSE AND MOUTH. We started to see a lot of noses toward the end of term—a mask that is frequently pulled down to breathe or talk, or is worn under the nose, is not effective.

TRAVELING:

  • If you are traveling over break, please review the CDC’s latest guidelines for international and domestic travel. Note that a negative COVID-19 test is now required within 1 day of air travel into the U.S. It is recommended that you test again 3-7 days after international travel.
    • The Center for International Programs will continue to communicate any travel requirements or instructions to international students and students studying abroad. Please follow the guidance they provide.

FLU SHOTS:

  • Flu shots are strongly encouraged to mitigate the number of illnesses circulating on campus. Flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May. You can get a flu shot and a COVID vaccine at the same time.

We will keep you informed and updated if current health conditions necessitate any operational changes in the weeks ahead. As a reminder, campus offices are closed from December 22–January 2 for the holidays.

Thank you for continuing your efforts to Protect the Hive. Be safe and we hope you enjoy the rest of your winter break.

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

Vaccinations Required for Faculty and Staff

Kalamazoo College is encouraged by the high number of vaccinations already reported on campus and will now require all faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with the vaccine series started no later than September 13, which is the first day of fall classes.

The decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations of our entire community is consistent with the College’s stated commitment of protecting our health and safety. The College continues to evaluate public health guidance, observe the impact of variants like the delta variant, and gather input from our community.

Colleagues who are fully vaccinated and already reported their vaccination information do not need to take additional action, other than following other College COVID protocols like masking and daily health screenings.

Colleagues who have started or completed their COVID vaccination process, but not yet reported their status, should submit their vaccination information to Human Resources as soon as possible.

Colleagues who have not yet begun the vaccination process, need assistance finding a vaccination location, or have questions about the vaccination requirement may visit the Human Resources site for more information.

Updated Mask Protocols

All Kalamazoo College employees, students, and visitors to campus will be required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth while indoors in shared spaces, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, effective Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, those who are feeling ill and those who would simply feel more comfortable doing so are strongly encouraged to mask outdoors as well.

In spaces that are not shared, such as single-occupancy offices, you do not have to wear a face covering if you are alone. Face coverings are required if another person enters the space. Shared interior spaces include but are not limited to classrooms, laboratories, hallways, points of service, offices, and all campus buildings.

This change to the previous face covering policy is based on CDC guidance recommending indoor masking for all personswhen COVID-19 case rates are substantial or high in a specific locale. Kalamazoo County’s level of community transmission has moved to “substantial.” 

Update to K’s Mask Protocols

Dear Students and Families,

We wanted to share with you that effective today, Kalamazoo College is requiring all employees, students and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors in shared spaces, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, those who are feeling ill and those who may feel more comfortable doing so are strongly encouraged to mask outdoors, as well.

This change to our previous face covering policy is based on CDC guidance recommending indoor masking for all persons when COVID-19 case rates are substantial or high in a specific locale. Kalamazoo County’s level of community transmission has moved to “substantial.”  

The College will provide more guidance on health protocols specific to student life (housing, athletics, etc.) over the coming days and weeks as we approach fall term. At this point in time, we do not foresee any significant changes to plans for housing, dining or class modalities, and health protocols will primarily focus on vaccination, masking and hygiene efforts.  The College will continue to monitor public health data and guidance from local, state and national health officials and we will relax or strengthen COVID-19 protocols as circumstances warrant. 

As it has been throughout the pandemic, the College’s top priority is the health and safety of students and employees. We have been able to limit COVID-19 cases on campus over the past 18 months because students, staff and faculty have overwhelmingly followed health protocols. Vaccination for those who are able and wearing face coverings when needed will be key to our continued success in limiting the spread of the virus and allowing us to move forward with our plans for in-person living and learning. By engaging in these behaviors, every one of us associated with the College can contribute to “Protecting the Hive.”

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you soon. 

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost 

COVID-19 Vaccine Reminder for Fall 2021

Dear K Students and Families:

We hope you are having a terrific summer. We’re writing today to remind you of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement that was communicated to students and families in the spring. All Kalamazoo College students will be required to be fully vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines* approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). Fully vaccinated means you have completed the vaccination series at least two weeks prior to coming to campus. To meet this requirement, you would need to start a two-part series no later than August 1, 2021**. (For students who are scheduled to return to campus early due to athletics, LandSea or other commitments, please check with your organizations for vaccination deadlines.)

If you have been vaccinated in the state of Michigan, the College should be able to access your vaccination records and you do not need to submit any further documentation unless directly notified by the Student Health Center.

Anyone vaccinated outside of Michigan will need to submit a picture of their authorized vaccination card, with the dates and lot numbers easily visible, to healthsv@kzoo.edu no later than September 1, 2021.

If you have a CDC-approved medical reason for not being able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact the College at healthsv@kzoo.edu to request the waiver forms. Please understand that the College takes the health and safety of its community very seriously and very few waivers are granted. The waiver deadline is August 1, 2021.

Proof of vaccination or an approved waiver are required before a student may attend classes, move into residence halls or attend campus activities. Please be aware that if you are not vaccinated, you may not be able to participate in LandSea, study abroad/study away, or athletics, due to health protocols unique to those activities.

We’re confident the protocols we’ve put in place will allow us to return to the on-campus living and learning experience that K is well-known for, and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

Stay healthy, stay safe,

Dana Jansma
Interim Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

*Please note: If you are under 18, the CDC has approved the Pfizer vaccine only.

**The timing between your first and second shots depends on which vaccine you receive. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose.

  • If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot three weeks (or 21 days) after your first.
  • If you received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot four weeks (or 28 days) after your first.