In December, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control updated their guidelines for institutions of higher education. As such, we have had to adapt some of our policies for the spring 2021 semester, and we will continue to do so as guidelines change.
We highly recommend everyone quarantines for 14 days prior to coming back to campus.
Prior to their return to campus, all students should take a COVID-19 test (PCR type) and upload their results to the Student Health Portal. Ideally, you would take the test within 72 hours of your arrival on campus; however, we are discovering that many testing centers take much longer than 72 hours to return results. Therefore, we recommend that you contact your local testing center to ask how long it will take to get your results and then schedule far enough in advance that you can a) receive your results AND b) upload them to the Student Health Portal before you return to campus. Students who are symptomatic or test positive should stay home and notify Student Affairs to make arrangements for an alternate move-in date and temporary virtual learning status.
Upon return from winter break, all students and employees are required to be screened for COVID-19. (See Required COVID-19 Screening for more information.)
Spring semester classes begin Tuesday, January 19. See the Academics section for more detailed information about the modified spring 2021 calendar.
As in the fall, all residential students will follow a highly controlled, phased move-in and will be assigned a specific move-in date and time. The move-in schedule, which will include state-mandated COVID-19 testing, will be emailed to you. (See Required COVID-19 Screening for more information.)
The College is opening in a Re-entry Quiet Phase in which students may leave their residence hall rooms only for in-facility dining, to study in the library, to go to work, and to attend class. Regular activity will resume on Friday, January 22.
A detailed orientation schedule will be communicated to all new first-year and transfer students via email prior to the beginning of the semester.
Prior to participation in any campus activity, you are required to read and sign an addendum to the Student Code of Conduct, which includes a self-screening checklist and an agreement to abide by COVID-related policies. You are also required to complete a series of health and wellness training sessions the week of January 19.
All new students (first-years and transfers) living in campus housing are required to have completed health forms and immunizations prior to check in. More detailed information will be emailed to new students and will be posted to the Student Life / Move-In Day page as it is available.
For the spring 2021 semester, the Pennsylvania Department of Health requires re-entry COVID-19 testing, as well as surveillance testing of a sample of our population weekly. For detailed information, please see Westminster College COVID-19 Testing Protocols.
Upon return from winter break, all students and employees are required to be screened for COVID-19. The tests will be administered on-campus and will be provided by the College at no cost to students or employees. Employees and students who will not be on-campus due to an accommodation for virtual work/virtual learning do not need to be tested. Additionally, any person with a documented positive test within 90 days of the start of their re-entry to campus will be exempt from testing requirements.
Students will be screened for COVID-19 prior to the beginning of the semester. In December, students received an email from Vice President Gina Vance with a link to schedule their individual appointments for testing. For residential students, this will also serve as your move-in day/time for the spring semester.
Students who uploaded negative PCR results to the Student Health Portal prior to their arrival on-campus will be screened for COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test. Students who cannot provide negative PCR results prior to their arrival on-campus will be screened using both a rapid antigen test and a PCR test and must quarantine until the results of the PCR test have been received. For more detailed information, please see the Student Life section of this Plan.
Staff, administration and some faculty will be scheduled for testing between January 4-6. Faculty will be scheduled for January 11. Employees will receive more detail from Human Resources about testing appointments.
Employees whose immediate return to campus is essential for College operations will be tested using both rapid antigen and PCR and will be cleared for on-campus work immediately following the testing appointment so long as the rapid test results are negative. All other employees will be tested using PCR, and results will be returned within 48 hours. Employees may return to on-campus work once a negative test result is received. Employees who test positive will be required to isolate per the CDC guidelines.
In accordance with state requirements, the College will perform ongoing testing of a random selection of 10 percent of students, faculty, and staff each week. Athletics will follow the testing protocols for each sport as recommended by the NCAA and the Presidents Athletic Conference.
All students, faculty and staff are required to complete a daily health self-check prior to leaving their residence hall or place of residence. Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to download the COVID Alert PA app to their smart phones to assist with their daily screenings.
Students with any sign of illness or who have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should remain in their residence hall room or off-campus residence and contact the Wellness Center as soon as possible.
Employees with any sign of illness or who have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should NOT report to work. They should seek care from their primary health car provider and report their symptoms to their supervisor.
In Pennsylvania, face coverings or masks are required in all public indoor and outdoor spaces. Everyone on campus is required to wear a cloth face covering or mask over the nose and mouth when indoors and in the same room as others, and when outdoors if 6-foot physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained. This includes classrooms, public restrooms, open office and common spaces, hallways, meeting rooms, the library, Mueller Theater and other indoor spaces.
Face shields are acceptable as long as they are worn at the same time as a cloth facial covering.
Limit close contact with others and whenever possible maintain a minimum physical distance of at least 6 feet. Be particularly mindful of your distance from others in small spaces including hallways, stairwells and restrooms. When you are walking in a hallway or on the sidewalk, stay on the right side according to the direction you are heading in order to maximize distance when passing others.
To encourage appropriate distancing, we have changed the layout and capacities of our indoor campus spaces, including classrooms, laboratories, studios, dining rooms, offices, lounges and other common spaces.
We will comply with all Pennsylvania state restrictions on events and gatherings. Under the current guidelines, indoor events and gatherings are limited to 15% of maximum occupancy and outdoor events are limited to 20% of maximum occupancy. Further, for all gatherings, we will comply with 6-foot distancing requirements. See the PA Department of Health FAQ for the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s Mitigation, Enforcement and Immunity Orders section on Events and Gatherings for the most up-to-date information.
Physical Plant staff cleans learning spaces daily, and they ensure that hand sanitizing stations are stocked throughout campus. Further, cleaning products are readily available in offices, classrooms, computer labs, etc. so that we can sanitize the equipment and furniture we use. If we all regularly sanitize public equipment and furniture (i.e., desks, tables, computers) before we use it, we reduce our chances of exposure and spread.
Prior to our return to campus for the spring 2021 semester, Physical Plant will sanitize all high-traffic areas of campus buildings.
Where possible, HVAC systems that introduce fresh air into the buildings have been adjusted to produce the maximum amount of fresh air movement through the building. The setting of each unit is adjusted daily based upon weather conditions where possible. We have also employed higher efficiency filters, adjusted the frequency of filter changes and adjusted building schedules to provide additional hours of system operations.
Individuals who work or reside in rooms with windows that open are also encouraged to increase the circulation of outside air by opening windows and closing doors, as weather conditions permit.
While classes are in session, all members of the campus community should avoid overnight trips and plan to remain in the local area. The academic year is designed to minimize breaks so that once we arrive on-campus, we do not return home and/or travel extensively until the end the conclusion of the semester. Further, in compliance with State Department guidelines, no College-sponsored international travel for employees or students is authorized at this time.
Additionally, all members of the campus community are expected to comply with any active Pennsylvania Department of Health mitigation orders related to travel. See the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Information for Travelers for the most up-to-date information.
Employees should see the Travel Advisory and Re-Entry Protocols section of this Plan for additional information.
The campus will receive an update of COVID positive/probable for COVID-19 cases each Monday afternoon from Student Affairs. Close contacts will receive communication with necessary instructions through the College’s contact tracing protocols. The Department of Health will be notified. The COVID-19 Dashboard on the College's website is updated each Monday during the fall and spring semesters.
If a community member tests positive or is probable positive for COVID-19, a building or campus area may be temporarily closed for up to two days to allow for extensive cleaning. Should multiple diagnoses occur, on the recommendation of the Department of Health or other official body, the campus may be closed for a two-week period or such period as deemed necessary to allow for self-quarantining. If this happens, academic instruction will move temporarily to virtual delivery.
Information about any large-scale closures will be shared with members of the community through the campus ReGroup ALERT system texts/calls, email, and the College website. Please take a moment to check your ReGroup system preferences and cell phone number by going to https://westminstercollege.regroup.com and logging in with your Westminster email and password.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) has estimated that given the magnitude of COVID-19 cases in the state, that later in the phases of reopening, the PA DOH will need to partner with communities for contact tracing. Therefore, Westminster will train and utilize student workers to conduct contact tracing.