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

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.” 

Important Message on COVID-19 Vaccines

To Students and Families:

As we continue to plan for in-person living and learning next academic year, we are writing to share that Kalamazoo College will require students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus next fall. This will include any student who intends to live on campus, attend classes or engage in any in-person activities. We will grant limited exceptions for medical reasons, as we do with other vaccinations. 

The scientific evidence is overwhelming that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 and related serious outcomes. They are an important component in helping us return to a more “pre-pandemic” way of life on campus. We appreciate the many students, faculty and staff who have already received their vaccinations and voluntarily shared their status with the College; this information helps with planning and decision-making as we continue our gradual reopening. 

The health of our community is our number one priority, as it has been since the start of the pandemic. Our decision-making will continue to be driven by credible scientific data and public health guidance. We recognize some people may still have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. If you have general questions about the vaccines, please visit the CDC website or the FDA website for more information. 

In the weeks to come, we will communicate more details about K’s requirement, including how to register your vaccination and guidance for international students. Please watch your email or look for updates on the COVID-19 website as information becomes available.  

We look forward to welcoming our community safely back to campus in the fall. Thank you for “Protecting the Hive.”

Sarah B. Westfall
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

COVID-19 Testing Available for Students

The Student Health Center will provide nasal swab PCR diagnostic tests for COVID-19 to students who are ill or are concerned they have been exposed. These highly accurate tests look for the virus’s genetic material. Please call 269.337.7200 to schedule. Your health insurance will be billed for the test. Test results will take 2-3 days.

Feeling Sick?

If you are concerned about COVID-19, you can access COVID screening questions in your MyChart.

  • MyChart Website: Under QUICK LINKS-COVID-19 Daily Symptom Checker
  • MyChart App: Symptom Checker

You can contact the Student Health Center by MyChart or phone for an appointment.

After the Student Health Center is closed, you can:

  • For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.
  • If you need to speak to a resident doctor on call at the Family Practice Clinic at WMed 24 hours a day, you can call 269.337.6500. Be sure to identify yourself as a Kalamazoo College student.
  • Visit the State of Michigan website for a list of local COVID-testing locations.
  • Visit the Student Health Center website for a list of medical transportation options.

If you need to quarantine or isolate, visit the Student Health Center isolation and quarantine plan for more information.

Ventilation Plan

Strategy

As scientists learn more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it is clear aerosolized virus from exhalation plays a primary role in transmission.  The operation of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems can help reduce the concentration of virus, thereby reducing the risk of transmission.  This is done primarily through increasing the amount of outside air introduced into a building through its HVAC system’s outdoor air intake.  However, underconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly harmful or lower their resistance to infection.  Therefore, modifications to the amount of outside air must not exceed the system’s ability to condition the air.  The College is following the guidance provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in implementing operational modifications to help mitigate the risk of exposure.  

Methods

Increased Percentage of Outdoor Air

All campus buildings with central air handling will be set to increase the percentage of outdoor air intake to the point that the HVAC system can still condition the air.  Occupants can expect that this increase in fresh air will have an impact on the ability of the system to control temperature and humidity and should plan for less thermal comfort.  The amount of fresh air that can be introduced into the building will vary in accordance with outdoor air conditions.  Opening windows in these buildings is discouraged, because this will further impede the ability of the HVAC systems to condition the air.

Central Air Filtration

All buildings are receiving new filters prior to the beginning of the academic year.  These are high quality filters that meet the design specifications of the system in which they are used.  They are not in all cases HEPA filters, which capture particles down to .3 microns.  This is because that level of filtration may impede that system’s ability to draw air through the filter, negatively impacting the system’s ability to circulate air.

Forced Air System UV Treatment

For buildings with residential type forced air systems, UV treatment modules are being installed at the furnace.  This will expose the air to UV light as it passes through the furnace, which has been shown to kill the virus.

Local Electrostatic Air Purification

In special situations, where increasing the outdoor air may be difficult, or the virus load is more localized, electrostatic air purification units will be installed.  For instance, singing is known to project exhalation further, so spaces used by groups for this purpose will have stand-alone electrostatic air purifiers.   

Single Occupancy – Radiant Heat Only

Some buildings on campus, typically residence halls, do not have centralized air handling, only radiant heat.  These buildings have exhaust fans that exchange air in bathrooms, but individual bedrooms have only heating radiators.  In these cases, each bedroom has only one occupant, and they have control over who enters the space.  Occupants are encouraged not to have guests.  These rooms also generally have operable windows that allow them to introduce fresh air directly, but they will need to cooperate with other occupants who may be affected through shared thermostat zones. 

Specific Buildings

The following is a list of buildings or building groups that will help occupants know what to expect in their specific circumstances. 

Admissions Center, Anderson Athletic Center, Arcus, Dewing Hall*, Fieldhouse, Fitness & Wellness Center, Hicks Center, Light Fine Arts*, Mandelle Hall, Stetson Chapel, and Upjohn Library Commons

This group of buildings all have centralized air handling.  Fresh air will be increased to the point where conditioning can still be maintained.  Occupants should expect that thermal conditions will be less controlled than normal.  Operable windows should NOT be opened.

* Dewing Hall: 3rd Floor Instructional Spaces, and Light Fine Arts: Singing and Wind Instrument Instructional Spaces: These specific spaces within buildings already listed above will have electrostatic air purifiers within the instructional spaces.  Thermal conditions will be less controlled than normal, as the main air handler will have increased outside air.

Dow Science

This building normally operates with 100% outside air due to the nature of the laboratory work within.  This will be operated as normal.

Olds-Upton

This building has central air-handling; however, the thermal conditioning is limited and the building houses sensitive scientific equipment.  To maintain conditioning, the outdoor air will be increased only moderately when possible, and electrostatic air purifiers will be operated in the instructional spaces.  Operable windows should NOT be opened.

Humphrey House

This building has a central make-up air unit, but thermal controls are dispersed in zones throughout the building.  Operable windows may be opened, occupants will need to cooperate with those in adjacent spaces.

Crissey, DeWaters, Harmon, Hoben, Severn, Trowbridge

This group of buildings does not have centralized air handling.  Bathroom air is exchanged with exhaust fans and bedrooms will be single occupancy.  Operable windows may be opened, occupants will need to cooperate with those in adjacent spaces.  Common spaces will be arranged to allow only socially distant occupancy and gatherings will be discouraged.

Living Learning Houses

Living Learning units in individual houses will have UV light treatment installed on their furnaces, these spaces will operate as normal.  Operable windows may be opened, occupants will need to cooperate with those in adjacent spaces.