Virus Task Force Updates
May 9, Update: The dashboard was updated on Friday, but has been changed this morning to reflect our new “substantial” status; the county transmission rate remain “high.” We expect about 100 students living on campus this summer and will test weekly; a isolation plan has been prepared for those testing positive. Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth has its own testing process for its students here on campus. Commencement will proceed as planned this weekend. We may meet occasionally early this summer to discuss the fall semester and assess any changes across the region. Have a final week, Bears! And congratulations, seniors!
May 2, Update: The dashboard was updated last Friday morning. We discussed inventory for the remainder of the semester. We looked at trendlines and discussed other variants. Students should continue to participate in on-campus testing; faculty and staff are welcome as well. Incoming students will be required to submit proof of vaccinations; the exemption policy remains intact. We meet again next Monday and will meet occasionally through the summer. Have a great week, Bears!
April 25, Update: The dashboard was updated on Friday. Testing will continue this week. The positivity rate remains low though we are aware of several new cases. We will issue another communication regarding testing early this week; daily hours remain the same. The task force continues to consider vaccination requirements for new and incoming students–a final decision will come soon. The task force meets again next Monday.
April 18, Update: Campus infection rates have slowly dropped over the past three weeks and in order to continue to be vigilant, all students will continue to test on a weekly basis. As a reminder, faculty and staff are also welcome to test on campus. This morning, the task force discussed trends in the health of the surrounding community and on other local campuses, and started to look forward to COVID protocol for the fall 2022 semester. The task force will meet again next Monday.
April 11, Update: Our positivity rate last week hovered above one percent, down from the previous week. Because we continue to see transmission on campus, likely from the new Omicron variant, we are likely going to recommend mask-wearing in “close” indoor settings. More details to come soon. We are also evaluating our quarantine policy for contacts and will likely require weekly testing for all contacts moving forward. We’re also looking at NCAA guidances on the matter. Last week’s dashboard was updated with results through Thursday. A campus communication will be sent today with additional information about testing and quarantining. The task force meets again next Monday. Have a great week, Bears!
April 4, Update: The dashboard has been updated, though the data doesn’t include Friday’s results. Over that seven-day period ending Thursday, 1,100 tests were conducted; Friday’s results were better and we saw a decrease in the positivity rate. We are requiring every student to test again once this week to monitor whether that rate continues its downward trend. A communication will be sent to student this morning about testing. Have a great week, Bears!
March 31, Update: In light of this week’s spike in positive cases, all students must get tested today and tomorrow. To accommodate this, testing hours in the lower level of Myrin Library have been extended. The testing site will be open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. today (Thursday, March 31) and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, April 1). Additionally, all students, faculty, and staff are strongly advised to wear masks in all indoor settings at this time while we continue to assess he health of our campus community.
March 28, Update: The dashboard continues to reflect a “moderate” COVID transmission level on our campus. The task force today discussed enforcement of the vaccination requirement for individuals who have failed to comply and are not exempt from the requirement.
March 21, Update: Last week’s dashboard has been updated, but it does not reflect the data we collected on Friday, per usual. (We had zero positives on Friday.) We discussed the response to last week’s mask-policy changes; it is important that testing continues so that we can continue with this approach. We spoke about this week’s stage performances. Signage across campus continues to be taken down to reflect the changes in mask-wearing. The task force will meet again next Monday. Have a great week!
March 14, Update: We continue to monitor rates across the region, which have stabilized; the county transmission rate is no longer “high.” A communication to faculty will be sent mid-week regarding an update to the mask-wearing requirements in classrooms and other indoor venues; it will be shared with staff as well. The task force meets again on Thursday. Have a great week back from Spring Break, Bears!
March 3, Update: Students received an email this week about testing, both before they arrive to campus from spring break and the week of their return; an updated version including discussion about the new CDC guidance will be shared with faculty and staff early next week. There will be very limited testing options on campus during spring break. We will communicate testing updates to student through Instagram next week. We spoke with admission about the Academic Day on March 19 and campus tours. We will reconvene on Monday, March 14. Have a great break, Bears!
February 28, Update: This is the final week before Spring Break and—as was communicated last week—students should make sure they have an at-home COVID test so that they can test themselves before returning to campus. We will test all students upon return from spring break. The Task Force is reviewing the CDC’s latest recommendations on mask wearing and will soon issue guidance for the campus community. Look for a communication with more information this week.
February 24, Update There have been 2 new positives reported in on-campus testing this past week, and 3 overall that we are aware of. This puts the college in the “moderate” category. A reminder was sent yesterday to the campus community about testing requirements; vaccinated students must continue to get tested every-other week. Beginning next week, we will reach out to faculty and staff who have not provided their vaccination status. We continue to monitor what’s happening around Montgomery County, particularly around mitigation measures. The VTF meets again on Monday. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
February 21, Update Our faculty/staff vaccination rate is approximately 86% with 20 requested exemptions. Last week’s dashboard was updated to reflect a “Low” on-campus transmission rate with zero new positives. A general testing reminder will be sent later this week to students. Given the availability of at-home tests, we will be asking all students to test prior to their return to campus the week of spring break. We meet again this Thursday. Have a great week, Ursinus.
February 17, Update Since last Friday, we’ve conducted a total of 349 tests with no positives. That places us in the low transmission category. We continue to monitor the health of the county, which remains in the high transmission category. Task Force discussed faculty and staff compliance with the vaccination requirement and will soon be issuing reminders to faculty and staff who have not yet complied. It also discussed spring break trips, mostly for athletics teams. The Task Force meets again on Monday, February 21.
February 14, Update The dashboard was updated on Friday, which showed another decrease in positives. We continued discussing possible changes in mitigation measures, though we expect to continue with our current testing frequency. A reminder that students are required to report booster updates, while faculty and staff must provide proof of vaccination. We meet again on Thursday. Have a great week, Ursinus!
February 10, Update Today is the deadline for faculty and staff to submit a proof of vaccination. We spoke about the changing landscape and our testing and mitigation measures as we head further into the semester–we’ll continue to discuss and share updates whenever we can. Our positivity rate continues to decrease; the dashboard will be updated again tomorrow morning. The task force meets again early next week. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
February 7, Update Positivity rates dropped on campus last week–check the updated dashboard for the latest data. A communication this morning will introduce the new testing schedule. Everyone is reminded to continue wearing masks in all indoor settings. We are reconsidering the reservation system for the Fitness Center; more to come. KN95 masks are still available at the testing center. Wellness Center will issue another reminder to students today about the booster registration form. The task force meets again on Thursday.
February 3, Update Over the past six days, we recorded 4 new positives from on-campus testing. Our transmission is far less than that of the surrounding community. We will update the dashboard again tomorrow morning and, on Monday, send an update about possible changes to the frequency of on-campus testing sessions. There have been 863 responses to the booster survey–good progress. Admission spoke about preparations for coming events, which are at capacity. Everyone should check our campus operations page for any unexpected changes to operating hours and venues across campus. The task force meets again next Monday. Have a great Thursday, Bears!
January 31, Update The dashboard was updated with last week’s test results. We continue to average just below a 2% positivity rate. We will be requiring every students to test once this week, but will reconsider that frequency beginning next week. Faculty and staff are welcome to join this week’s testing if interested–see this page for hours. Our test inventory is looking great through spring break, and we are well prepared to continue supporting all athletic teams and upcoming productions. To date, we’ve received about 450 submissions to the new booster report survey; our deadline is tomorrow. Vaccination exemptions for faculty/staff will begin rolling out soon. We continue to closely monitor Montgomery County transmission rates and those across the region, which have stabilized and are trending in the right direction. A campus communication with updates will be sent today. We will meet again on Thursday.
January 27, Update Today is our booster clinic with Rite Aid; just under 200 individuals signed-up. A communication will be sent shortly with a link to upload booster information. We continue to record a positivity rate of just under 2% this week. Our testing inventory remains in good shape for the next few weeks. We expect that all students will be required to test again next week; more to come. We are now welcoming spectators to athletic events. The dashboard will be updated tomorrow morning. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
January 24, Update To date, 150 people have signed up for Thursday’s booster clinic–the 10:00 and 12:00 time slots are full. We are still taking reservations. We are in good shape for this week’s mandatory tests. We are relaxing our spectator policy–check “Good Morning, Ursinus” mid-week for details. Several communications are planned for this week regarding testing times and, separately, collecting booster information. We continue to monitor the region; the positivity rates in Montgomery County continue to decrease. Have a great week, Ursinus!
January 20, Update We continue to see about a 2% positivity rate after two days of testing. Students must test again today or tomorrow; we aren’t using the Navica app for this series of tests. We spoke about additional updates to Defend the Den and we intend to begin updating the dashboard tomorrow to reflect this week’s test. A communication will be sent tomorrow outlining details for the upcoming booster clinic. Admission spoke about its preparations for upcoming events, the next of which is already at capacity; the next two months will be especially busy. We also discussed other significant college events such as Alumni Weekend and Commencement weekend. We are in regular contact with coaches and student-athletes regarding testing and mitigation measures. We meet again on Monday. Stay well, Bears.
January 19, Update A reminder you may now order at-home test kids through USPS.com. During yesterday’s check-in, we recorded 23 positive results out of 1,180 total on-campus tests—less than 2% positivity rate. Check-in for commuter students continues today. We continue to study CDC’s updated guidelines for isolation and quarantine; anyone testing positive should isolate for 6 nights. We will send a test kit to the homes of students isolating off-campus. We expect to test all students again either Thursday or Friday, and test again once next week. A communication will be sent this afternoon sharing more. We are confirming final details for the upcoming booster clinic; details and sign-up information coming soon. The task force meets again tomorrow morning. Welcome back, Bears!
January 12, Update The VTF previewed tonight’s student/parent town hall meeting at 7:00, which will be recorded. We discussed at length additional booster information, will be provided to parents and students in the following few days. We spoke about banquets, overnight visits for student-athlete recruitment, and other events possibly involving visitors–additional guidance to come. We are working with key vendors to require vaccinations among those staff as well. Preparations are well underway for important admission events later this month. Testing orders are in place with up to 5 different supplies; inventory remains tight. It is our intent to begin offering on-campus testing to faculty and staff later this month, after the beginning of the semester. (In the meantime, we will work to update Defend the Den with possible external testing locations such as Spring Valley YMCA.) The Fitness Center will resume with a reservation system like last semester. Our contact tracing team is ready to begin later this week for early arrivals. We continue to purchase KN95 masks when possible. We meet again tomorrow!
January 10, Update Today the task force reviewed the college’s testing inventory and we remain in good shape for the beginning of the semester, including for athletes and students arriving early. We discussed the Supreme Court’s OSHA mandates and the current Supreme Court; if they haven’t done so already, all faculty and staff must complete the Qualtrics survey sharing their vaccination status. A student communication with more details will be sent tomorrow, and a faculty-focused communication will be sent by Dean Schneider this afternoon. For those interested in the Fitness Center, we’ll continue with the current sign-up policy. We are confirming details with Sodexo about the temporary take-out policy. New masking signage will be posted around campus this week; masks are available–please check out Defend the Den later this afternoon for details. The athletic spectator policy will be updated to state that faculty, staff and students may attend (and must wear masks). The task force meets again on Wednesday. Thanks for your support and have a great week, Ursinus!
January 6, Update Employees should complete the short survey sharing their vaccination status by next Monday. Today we spoke about plans for the in-person community conference–more details to come from the organizers. Residential student check-in is Tuesday from 10:00-4:00 (commuting students are the following day); we discussed testing logistics for those events as well as general planning and traffic flow. Students should expect communication with specific details next week. We are considering how best to support events early this semester, especially those with external visitors and spectators. We are also discussing matters related to boosters, which will be mandatory for students without exemptions. The task force meets again early next week.
January 5, Update Today we spoke about the “return to play” protocol for student-athletes and other athletic guidelines. We also review updated practices for both quarantining and isolation, which will be posted to Defend the Den soon. The college will continue to search for–and provide, wherever appropriate–KN95 masks for our community. We are working with Sodexo to likely offer take-out dining for the first week of the semester. A employee-focused communication about vaccination requirements will come soon; students will be receiving an email about pre-arrival matters shortly. Admission provided an update on upcoming events and dinners, as well as expectations for campus visitors. A reminder the bookstore remains closed this week, but the first floor of Commons (the café) remains open to the public. We discussed protocol for college-sponsored student trips off campus. Tomorrow we are prioritizing testing logistics. The task force meets again tomorrow morning.
January 4, Update Welcome “back,” Ursinus! Our full attention is preparing the campus for our students’ return mid-January. The VTF discussed this weekend’s athletic events–until further notice, only current students and game administrators will be permitted to attend events. That temporary policy will be re-evaluated next week. We looked at our testing inventory and are prepared for the start of the semester. As of now, we plan to test students twice weekly to start, with contacts tested at a greater frequency (likely daily for 5 days). We continue to prepare for next week’s parent / student town hall and our next student communication, which will include reminders about pre-arrival testing. Our on-campus booster clinic will occur later this month. We reviewed our isolation and quarantine policy and housing inventory, as well as the updated CDC recommendations related to quarantining. Faculty and staff should continue to work remotely if possible until further notice–a follow-up communication will be sent in the next two days, which will also include an update on the new vaccination policy. The VTF meets again tomorrow morning. Stay healthy, everyone!
December 16, Update We continue to experience a 1-2% percent positivity rate from this week’s tests. With Omicron continuing to pose concerns, we are likely to increase testing at the beginning of next semester; we are preparing different strategies so that we may pivot if necessary. We spoke about the demands on personnel and how we can improve that situation in the spring. Dean Bryant spoke with other Centennial Conference student affairs VPs about spring semester plans and best practices. We will communicate an important update about boosters to our students within the next day or two. We also discussed how to support upcoming admission events in January and February. A townhall for current students and parents is being planned for January 12–more details to come. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
December 13, Update Last week’s dashboard was updated, with campus now in the “high” category. Any students wishing to participate in this week’s on-campus testing should do so at their regularly scheduled timeslot. Additional information about this January’s new check-in is forthcoming; all students will be expected to test upon their return for the spring semester. A booster clinic has officially been scheduled for January–more details to come soon! All students are encouraged to get their boosters over break. We discussed additional spring semester preparations, especially concerning isolation protocol should the Omicron variant continue to expand. We meet again on Thursday. Have a great finals week, Ursinus!
December 6, Update We expect every student to participate in on-campus testing this week–the last week of classes. We know of one off-campus positive reported over the weekend. We are in good shape with our PCR test inventory for the remainder of the semester. We continue to closely monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, which appears to be–at this early stage–more infectious than the current Delta variant. The task force meets again this Thursday. Have a great week, Ursinus!
December 2, Update Thus far this week, we’ve had four positives from on-campus testing, three of whom are students. We are aware of one new positive from an off-campus test. Testing compliance has not been at the levels we expect of students; we will communicate implications later today. We continue to closely follow developments and new data concerning the new Omicron variant; we are monitoring that situation, along with news about the suspended OSHA mandates, and their possible implications for an updated vaccination policy on campus. According to the most recent data, we estimate more than 71 percent of all full-time employees are fully vaccinated. All faculty and staff should continue to complete this survey to indicate your vaccination status. We meet again on Monday. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
November 29, Update We are evaluating the OSHA vaccination requirements, which remain suspended for now, and continue to plan for different scenarios. More details to come. All students are expected to get tested this week–please come at your regular time slot, regardless of your “Block” schedule. We are working to schedule a booster clinic for mid- or late-January. We will meet again this Thursday morning. Have a great week, Ursinus!
November 18, Update Thus far this week, we have one on-site positive and off-site positive of which we are aware–neither of which are students. We are prepared for on-site staffing and testing over Thanksgiving and winter break, especially for student-athletes. Another student-focused reminder about testing will be sent after break. OSHA has suspended enforcement of its proposed COVID mandates; we’ll continue to monitor and be prepared should things change. We had a successful counselor fly-in earlier this week, and we welcome 23 fully-vaccinated students to campus as part of our Access program. Members of the task force will continue its business and communications next week, but will next meet virtually on Monday, Nov. 29. Have a great Thanksgiving Break, Bears!
November 15, UpdateThe taskforce continues to closely monitor state / national infection rates as well as the proposed OSHA requirement and the new injunction that made news this weekend. We updated the dashboard on Friday with three new student positives, one of which was from an off-campus test. There has been one new positive this weekend. We ask for everyone’s support to encourage all students, especially those who are vaccinated, to test on-campus during their regular times. Testing next week will occur only Monday and Tuesday due to Thanksgiving Break. We are preparing updates for this Wednesday’s faculty/staff townhall. Stay healthy, Ursinus, and have a great week!
November 12, Update: Over the last five testing days, there have been 453 tests with two positives on campus. Our status remains moderate. On Thursday, the Task Force continued to discuss possibilities surrounding the vaccination requirement option of the recent OSHA guidelines. This week, a communication was sent to students reminding them that flu season is upon us and—with some cases diagnosed on campus—it’s more important than ever to continue to practice good hygiene, stay masked, and get appropriate flu immunizations. The Task Force meets again on Monday, Nov. 15. Have a great weekend, Bears!
November 8, Update There were no positives from Thursday’s testing and last week’s testing results suggest no significant impact from Homecoming. The campus remains at moderate transmission levels. Today, we discussed the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate, as well as the planned athletics hall of fame event on campus in December. The Task Force next meets on Thursday. Have a great week, Bears!
November 4, Update We’ve recorded one new positive this week–the first student positive in nearly a month. We’ll continue to monitor post-Homecoming testing closely. We discussed smaller events occurring just before Thanksgiving Week that involve campus visitors and how we can best support those programs. The Wellness Center is seeing more students reporting seasonal cold symptoms. The dashboard and social media will be updated again tomorrow morning. The task force meets again on Monday morning. Have a great Thursday, Ursinus!
October 28, Update This week is Block B. We talked about the current landscape and the availability of boosters, which we encourage for those eligible. A campus communication promoting mask-wearing indoors, as well as an update on boosters, will be sent early next week. We’ve recorded no new student positives from on-campus testing thus far this week. The college is hosting 2 “fly-ins” this November, one for counselors, the second for students, which we also discussed; all participants will be fully vaccinated. We meet again on Monday.
October 25, Update This week is BLOCK B. The dashboard is being changed to reflect updated data from last week’s tests. Tomorrow evening’s parent/student town hall will include an update on campus health and testing. We discussed preparations around this weekend’s Homecoming. We meet again on Thursday. Have a great week, Ursinus!
October 22, Update Testing today is 10 a.m.-6 p.m. All students are expected to have participated in on-campus testing yesterday or today. The dashboard is being updated to reflect data from 10/15 - 10/21 and a social media update will be posted this morning. We are preparing final updates for next Tuesday evening’s student/parent town hall. We meet again on Monday. Have a great and healthy weekend, Bears!
October 20, Update Welcome back from fall break! A reminder will be sent to all students about this week’s testing sessions, which all students are expected to join. Hours are noon-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Friday. Faculty and staff are welcome to participate. We are aware of two off-campus positive cases among faculty/staff, which will be reflected in our dashboard this week. We spoke about continued staffing relating to on-campus testing through the beginning of next semester. Our testing inventory looks good for the remainder of the semester. We are not likely to track boosters, though we are looking into a booster event next semester. We will provide an overall update of campus health during next Tuesday night’s student/parent town hall. The task force meets again on Friday.
October 14, Update We haven’t recorded a new positive on-campus this week. Full testing for all students occurs next Thursday and Friday–only 151 students have signed up thus far. We will send out reminders. We continue to discuss recent Biden Administration recommendations for employers. More to come. We’ve begun preparing for the October 26 current student/parent town hall. We meet again next Wednesday. Have a great Thursday, everyone!
October 11, Update The task force discussed an updated testing schedule for next week–we expect all students to test the Thursday and Friday after fall break using the pick-a-time scheduler. More details to come in today’s communication. We all spoke about the set-up of upcoming indoor track meets and our spectator policy. The dashboard was updated on Friday with last week’s data–there were zero on-campus positive cases. The task force meets again on Thursday. Have a great week, Bears!
October 7, Update We are updating our general quarantine guidelines for unvaccinated faculty and staff named as contacts, and will change the return-to-work document to reflect update. We’ve begun previewing the spring semester and are evaluating isolation and quarantine options. The dashboard will be changed to now include positive test results recorded off campus. The next campus communication will be sent early next week asking students to prepare for fall and Thanksgiving breaks–and test when they return. The college recorded 321 flu shots on Tuesday. We meet again on Monday.
October 4, Update The dashboard has been updated to reflect the one current positive and a moderate status (not “low,” as previously indicated). We spoke about pre-event testing options for students in the performing arts. Reminder the flu shot clinic is in the field house from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. For those interested in booster shots, please visit this webpage (we’ll also post on our website). We continue to work with the Fitness Center on masking and humidity challenges. Regarding fall break, we plan to test all students after their return–more details to come. We next meet on Thursday. Have a great week, Bears!
September 30, Update Wellness will send out a reminder about next Tuesday’s on-site flu clinic in the field house, which is available for everyone on campus. We briefly discussed booster availability over the long-term. We anticipate turning on water fountains after fall break. We talked about how best to support and help prepare for Homecoming; registration begins today. We will add new signage in places where visitors cannot go during Homecoming–residence halls and Myrin Library, for example. We spoke about the upcoming Fall Open House for admission. It is our recommendation to host Election Day polling in November in the Commons. We reviewed the regional landscape, which appears to have evened out. We’ve reported one positive Since Friday. A reminder that faculty and staff may test on-site as well–please download the NAVICA app if interested. The college plans to host EMS training for campus and community members, which we support. The task force meets again on Monday. Happy Thursday, Bears!
September 27, Update We’re closely tracking testing this week, following a busy Family Day weekend. We’re encouraging students to participate in testing this week, regardless of whether they’re scheduled. We also encourage faculty and staff to attend tomorrow’s townhall, during which we’ll walk through some important updates. We continue to discuss humidity concerns and mitigation measures with the Fitness Center, and we’ll offer recommendations later this week. We discussed updates regarding international travel. The task force meets again this Thursday.
September 23, Update We conducted 123 tests over the past two days, with zero positives. We discussed masking, air flow, and the humidity challenges with the Fitness Center. We continued discussing repercussions for students not complying with our testing process; Block C testing has been lighter than expected this week. We previewed a few messages for next Tuesday’s town hall, particularly around remote work and on-campus testing opportunities for faculty and staff. We’ve spoken with Abbott about additional test inventory for later this semester. The dashboard will be updated by tomorrow morning and we meet again on Monday.
September 22, Update We discussed several national and regional transmission models and remain optimistic about this fall semester, especially with our in-house modeling and plans. We spoke about the few students who have not been complying with our guidelines, especially regarding on-campus testing, and likely actions moving forward. We continue to look into boosters, though we have nothing new to share. An update on the remote work policy and our recommendation will be shared mid-next week. Several community members have inquired about the on-campus testing hours; we will post on the Defend the Den landing page and in subsequent communications. Plans for upcoming admission events and prospective families are going well. More high schools are mandating proof of vaccinations or recent negative tests for visiting college admission counselors; we are complying. The task force meets again tomorrow. Happy Wednesday, Bears!
September 20, Update The dashboard was updated late last week to reflect one new positive and a moderate transmission rate. County infection rates look to remain steady. A communication to faculty and staff will be sent later this week regarding testing updates. We continue to prepare for future events such as fall break, which is a month away. We also continue to assess our staffing at the testing center and other support resources for the remainder of the semester. A reminder that everyone must wear masks indoors, even if just using the restroom. Given the health of campus, we also revisited the longer-term remote work policy that is still not in effect. Branded masks are now available–more details to come. We meet again on Wednesday. Happy Monday, everyone!
September 16, Update We conducted 105 tests yesterday with one new positive–the first of the week. Faculty and staff interested in on-campus tests can now be accommodated in the lower level of Myrin; further details will be shared in a communication soon. As a reminder, testing occurs M, W and Th from 4-8:00 p.m., and Tu and Fri from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. We walked through advance plans for Family Day. We meet again next Monday. The dashboard will be updated tomorrow morning, and a social media post will communicate the college’s transmission rate as well.
September 15, Update We conducted nearly 170 tests yesterday, with zero positives. We remain at zero positives for the week. We previewed our testing inventory for the semester and confirmed we’re in good shape. We know consumer demand for OTC testing kits is growing, so please explore options such as this from Wal-Mart. On-campus testing is also available to faculty and staff if they are interested–additional details to come soon, including a link to the NAVICA app. We meet again tomorrow. And a reminder to students–this week is “Block B.”
September 13, Update Today we begin our regular testing with “Block B.” The dashboard was updated on Friday afternoon with last week’s data. We continue to look at the Biden Administration’s covid plan and its potential impact on Ursinus faculty and staff; we are discussing the possibility of opening on-campus testing soon. Because of our low transmission rate, we will begin permitting guests this week–the guest registration form will be updated by the end of the day. We meet again on Wednesday morning.
September 10, Update We completed 868 tests over the past seven days, recording zero new positives; Ursinus is in the “low” transmission category for this past week. Today’s testing session will run from 10:00 - 2:00. Registered events are continuing as usual. We are evaluating how to extend on-campus testing to faculty and staff–more to come. We discussed yesterday’s announcement of Pres. Biden’s covid plan and its potential impacts for campus, and we’ll continue monitoring. The plans for Family Day, our next large campus event, are moving along well. Beginning next Monday, the task force will meet for three days every week, on a tentative basis. Have a safe weekend, everyone!
September 9, Update Yesterday, we tested 204 individuals, with no positives. We’ve recorded zero new positives thus far this week. Generally, we are happy with the high student adoption rates for both the NAVICA app and the Pick-a-Time online scheduler. We spoke about student compliance with covid-related guidelines. We will update the dashboard and communicate the week’s transmission status in a social media post early tomorrow morning. Happy Thursday, Bears!
September 8, Update In our second day of required testing this week, we recorded zero positives among 250 tests. We remain at zero new positives for the week. We continue to monitor the number of positive cases in Montgomery County, which have been slowly decreasing; the county remains in the high transmission category. We are strongly encouraging campus visitors to mask when outdoors, though it’s not required; our tour guides will mask outdoors for their own well-being. We spoke about planning for the Fall Open House on October 9 and the student fly-ins scheduled for mid-November. The task force meets again tomorrow.
September 6, Update: Today, the task force discussed in detail the new Montgomery County recommendation that everyone mask-up in general public settings, both indoor and outdoor, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to areas in the “high” transmission category; Ursinus remains in the “moderate” category, but we want to ensure our campus remains as healthy as possible. A communication outlining our response will be sent by early afternoon. We meet again tomorrow.
September 3, Update We reviewed all new data for the dashboard. In total, we recorded 1,476 tests with 2 positives–both occurring last Sunday during check-in. As we are in the “moderate” transmission category, registered events are permitted this weekend! A student communication will be sent today requiring that students reserve a long-term timeslot for on-campus testing. We spoke about upcoming events, particularly Family Day and that surrounding the Speech Wall. We meet again on Monday. Have a great weekend, Ursinus!
September 2, Update A faculty/staff-focused email will be sent this morning regarding updated on-campus employee guidelines. Additionally, a student-focused announcement that outlines the semester-long testing schedule will be sent within the next day. To date, 1,533 individuals have downloaded the NAVICA app. We meet again tomorrow, after which the dashboard will be updated.
September 1, Update Yesterday’s faculty discussion hosted by Mark Schneider went well, with several questions focused on mask wearing, post-fall break plans, and intercollegiate competition. We discussed current NCAA and conference recommendations. Due to popular demand, we have ordered additional boxes of KN95 masks; the branded and expandable Ursinus masks should be arriving soon as well. We spoke about our admission counseling traveling efforts. An update on our longer-term testing process will be communicated soon. The task force meets again tomorrow.
August 31, Update We will begin officially updating the dashboard with testing data this week; it now includes the current student vaccinate rate. We are close to finalizing a longer-term daily testing schedule and a communication explaining that process will be sent later this week. We expect to test approximately 125 students every day. Social media will be updated every Friday morning about the health of campus. A employee-focused communication will be sent in the next two days, providing new update and information about testing for faculty and staff. We meet again tomorrow morning.
August 30, Update This weekend’s check-in went smooth, as did the process around the new NAVICA app. More than 1,500 individuals across campus now have profiles for the app. In total, we tested 1,433 students this past week with two positive results; those students are now isolating off campus. We are now above a 95% full vaccination rate among students. Mark Schneider will speak with faculty tomorrow about the fall semester plans, and we’ll issue a follow-up email to all faculty and staff with key takeaways from that discussion on Wednesday. We also spoke about communication reminders to students about the newer testing processes. Good luck with classes, everyone!
August 27, Update As of Friday morning, 1,228 students connected to the NAVICA app and set up their profile. More than 400 on-campus tests were conducted during first-year check-in yesterday, with zero positives. A reminder to faculty and staff to wear masks in academic and administrative buildings, though they are not required in private office spaces. The college will once again be posting weekly updates on social media about the health of campus and that week’s testing results. We meet again on Monday. Thank you to everyone who will be onsite assisting with our next check-in on Sunday! Have a great weekend, Ursinus!
August 25, Update The dashboard has been updated to reflect the new “campus status,” based on the CDC’s transmission categories. Nearly 960 students have downloaded the NAVICA app, a significant increase over yesterday. Wellness report that 1,443 students have demonstrated proof of vaccination–95% of the student population is within reach! We are prepared and ready for tomorrow’s first-year check-in, along with the on-campus testing that will occur. The updated employee “return to campus” guidelines have been drafted and are still under discussion (These are different from the new remote work policy.) Over the 2-3 days, masking signage will go up at building entrances. We spoke about additional staffing to support our covid-related testing and health procedures. The task force meets again on Friday. Happy Wednesday, Ursinus!
August 24 Update We discussed the rapid antigen tests and reviewed our inventory; we are in good shape for this semester. For the first week of classes, our intention as of now is to test students with exemptions as well as student-athletes, but we’re prepared to expand that operation if necessary. Nearly 700 students have downloaded the NAVICA app, so targeted communications will be sent to raise that number over the next 2-3 days. There are just over 40 students who have requested exemptions from vaccinations; we are above 90% of students who’ve submitted proof of vaccinations. The college sent a communication yesterday about expectations for the fall semester and the Defend the Den pages continue to be updated with new information. VTF is aware of the Pfizer authorization and is monitoring the general landscape regarding vaccinations. The task force meets again tomorrow morning.
August 23, Update We discussed a new campus communication that will be sent within the next day that outlines all updated guidelines and student expectations for the fall. A total of 1,408 students have submitted proof of vaccination, but only 620 students have downloaded the NAVICA app. We’ll continue to promote both. We decided that employees who receive positive test results should communicate those directly to their supervisor rather than HR, as was the protocol last year–more details to come. We are changing the color-coded campus status system on our dashboard to now closely reflect the CDC’s transmission levels–high, substantial, moderate and low. We meet again tomorrow.
August 20, Update There are 553 students who’ve downloaded the NAVICA app. More than 1,400 students reported at least partial vaccination–approximately 91.5% of the student population. We are finalizing the proposed testing guidelines for faculty and staff, which will be communicated early next week. The on-campus testing of student-athletes has been going well. We are re-considering the color-coded status updates currently on the dashboard; an updated version will be presented next week. The task force will continue meeting daily as the semester begins and the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox will continue to be used to address questions. Have a great Friday, Bears!
August 18, Update We spoke about Centennial Conference competition and our testing protocol for student-athletes. We finalized the isolation and quarantine guidelines for students, which will be posted online and shared in the next campus communication on Monday. The college will be ordering more Ursinus face masks, which will arrive in September. There was a great first-day download rate of the new NAVICA app–we’ll continue to promote heavily over the next week. A targeted communication to upperclass commuters will go out soon reminding them that check-in (and same-day testing) is required next week. Covid-related signage continues to be updated for campus buildings. The task force meets again tomorrow. Have a great day, Bears!
August 17, Update The task force review last night’s town hall and discussed a few outstanding questions. A reminder that information about pre-arrival tests can be found on the Wellness Center’s webpage. We are also reminding all students, especially commuters, that testing will also occur during check-ins. An update about testing and the new NAVICA app will be sent to students this morning; we also discussed some logistical matters. We spoke about facilities and general air quality measures, especially in tight, indoor areas. We are exploring a flu shot clinic for this fall. We are finalizing all quarantine and isolation protocols for the fall–more to come soon. We meet again tomorrow morning. Have a great Tuesday, Ursinus!
August 5, Update — The Task Force continues to prepare for student-athletes’ return to campus over the course of the next week and is finalizing details, logistics, and staffing for testing those who are exempt and not vaccinated upon arrival. We are closely monitoring CDC recommendations for contact tracing of vaccinated contacts. There is a call today among presidents of Centennial Conference colleges regarding upcoming fall sports season. Please be on the lookout for an official communication tomorrow regarding the college’s new remote work policy, as well as a broader communication early next week regarding additional updates and guidance as we prepare for the start of the fall semester. The Task Force will meet again on Monday. Read Previous Updates
August 4, Update — The task force is formalizing its testing strategy, particularly around the move-in process occurring later this month. We are also making significant progress on updating guidelines and mitigation measures, especially as a way to promote and assess the campus’s health very early in the semester. The college will likely host a town hall before students arrive to walk through campus updates—more information to come. We continue to strongly encourage staff, in particular, to consider getting vaccinated. We remind staff and faculty to report vaccinations to the college via the Qualtrics form even if those vaccinations were received on or through campus vaccination events. Admission provided an update on proposed travel as well as November fly-ins for both students and counselors. An update on the new remote policy will be shared with faculty and staff on Friday. Mark Schneider is presenting to a media roundtable this morning on how data is driving our decision-making process. We meet again tomorrow morning.
August 3, Update - We continue to look at the field house as an early testing venue and are evaluating other logistical matters, both for the short- and long-term. Faculty vaccination levels are good, trending above 85%, while staff rates are lower. The task force is spending considerable time looking at how to monitor the health of campus and getting the semester off to a safe start. We are evaluating mask-wearing scenarios for public indoor settings; these would likely be tentative for the beginning of the school year. Details will be communicated soon. The task force briefly discussed the new remote work policy—an update will be shared with employees on Friday. We meet at a group again tomorrow morning
August 2, Update - To date, we received more than 1,150 vaccination reports from students. We continue to model several testing scenarios for the fall and are looking closely into supplies, locations and other operational matters; we believe we are in good shape. We are in regular communication with early returning student-athletes. We are teeing up the move-in communication for all students, as well as our next campus communication, including updates about our fall plans, tentative mitigation measures and testing strategies. Both will be sent within the next week. The new remote-work policy will be shared with faculty and staff this Friday, August 6, though it will not yet be officially implemented. The task force is meeting every day this week. Have a great week, Ursinus!
July 22, Update - Nearly two-thirds of students have submitted proof of vaccinations; the submission deadline is July 31. We discussed possible mitigation measures such as mask wearing, and will continue to prepare for different scenarios. We also discussed mask-wearing during the move-in process given the high level of interaction among families; everyone will be expected to wear masks when indoors in public areas throughout the event. We are being flexible with the design of the new campus signage so that we can adjust should circumstances change quickly. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Mark Schneider will help lead a conversation with Montgomery County colleges tomorrow about Ursinus’s plans and concerns. We also talked about personnel support for on-campus testing. We meet again next Tuesday and Friday.
July 19, Update - A communication will be sent this week with details about pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for students, as well as reminders about vaccinations. The task force continues to monitor the overall health of the region, as well as the Delta variant, and continues to model different scenarios for the fall semester. It meets again on Thursday.
July 13, Update —We are preparing the next round of campus communications to be sent in the coming week. We continue to model different scenarios for campus health, taking into account the growing presence of the Delta variant. For the fall semester, students will need proof of vaccination prior to their arrival; students should submit that documentation to the Wellness Center by July 31. Currently, 803 students have submitted vaccination information. All students should also get tested within 3 days of their arrival, and let Wellness know of any positive results only. We continue to look at periodic testing options while also considering universal antigen testing during check-in. We will be meeting again with Montgomery County officials soon, as well as Centennial Conference and AICUP peers. The task force meets again next Monday.
July 6, Update —The task force continues to evaluate scenarios for the fall semester, with the Delta variant guiding early discussions about our campus plans and informing hypothetical modeling. Centennial Conference athletic directors are discussing the upcoming fall season and potential protocols. We are looking at personnel and staffing support to assist with possible testing, as needed, in the fall. Unvaccinated students currently living on campus continue to be tested on a weekly basis—we’ve had no positives thus far. We are currently evaluating the “Defend the Den” pages and updating where appropriate, and we intend to keep the dashboard live for the fall semester. The task force meets again next Tuesday morning.
June 29, Update - Since the mask mandate has been lifted in Pennsylvania—and because infection rates in our area have dropped substantially in recent weeks—fully vaccinated students who are living on campus this summer are no longer required to wear masks in common areas in their residence halls. The Task Force discussed guidance for overnight visitors and other guests during the coming fall semester, and the expectation that those guests will also be fully vaccinated prior to their visit. We also discussed pre-arrival testing for all students, as well as testing and case management protocol for the fall semester for unvaccinated or exempt faculty, staff, and students. We meet again on July 6.
June 22, Update - Our vaccination rate for students currently on campus is now above 90 percent. Current students on campus who remain unvaccinated are testing weekly. We spoke about how to best support international students still seeking vaccinations. We discussed a new, practical guideline to consistently apply to larger indoor gatherings beginning this fall semester. We are planning to continue our partnership with Perkiomen Valley High School in which students take Ursinus courses on campus. We talked about the planned ventilation shutdown this Thursday lasting around 2 hours; we don’t consider this is a risk considering our high vaccination rate. We will be updating campus signage to reflect newer recommendations later this summer. We meet again next Tuesday.
June 11, Update - The task force is currently evaluating all signage on campus and developing a tentative communications plan for the remainder of the summer. We considered an updated list of mitigation considerations for the campus community. We’ve been making progress on our new vaccination exemption policy—more details to come soon. We may make a few tents available in the fall for outdoor space—we are exploring possible options, but we expect indoor capacity to return to normal this fall. We spoke about how best to market fall events and academic programs throughout the region. We meet next on Tuesday, June 22.
June 8, Update - Admission joined the meeting to review this Saturday’s open house and the COVID precautions for all visitors. We discussed summer activities and ongoing fall planning requests for departments. The group reviewed a communication that will be sent the next day or so regarding campus COVID-19 status, mask requirements, and faculty and staff summer testing. We received an update on the summer fellows program which is going smoothly. We also discussed the upcoming vaccination exemption announcement to come next week. The task force meets again on Friday.
June 3, Update - We continued discussing different variables related to vaccination, employee testing, and mitigation measures for this both this summer and fall. A small task force committee has drafted exemption forms for both medical and religious concerns and we are now reviewing those versions. More details to come soon. We spoke about the perceived expectations of campus visitors and those employees who routinely travel off campus to represent Ursinus. We are researching how other similar colleges may be changing their guidelines this summer. We meet again next Tuesday.
June 1, Update - About 87% of students planning to be on campus this summer have indicated they are vaccinated, while 59% of all faculty and staff have reported full vaccinations. We are researching how to approach requests for exemptions. We continue to evaluate vaccination recommendations for employees as well as vendors and are working on a flexible guidance for the campus. That updated plan will also include any changes to our testing recommendations. We reconvene on Thursday to continue fleshing out these transitional plans.
May 14, Update - The task force will take short break and reconvene with a summer weekly meeting schedule. We will continue to communicate regularly, review documents and communications, work on individual and small team assignments, and have special meetings as needed throughout the summer. Congratulations, Bears, we made it! Have a safe and enjoyable summer.
May 12, Update - The final day of mandatory testing is tomorrow, Thursday, May 13, and runs until noon. A representative from College Events and Signature Programs joined the task force meeting to share an update on this weekend’s commencement ceremonies. To follow the festivities via live stream, visit the commencement web page. We also discussed this summer’s Movies on the Lawn series with the CEDC. The group again reviewed vaccine guidelines, CDC recommendations, the changing state and county situations, and feedback from Montgomery County regarding their expectations for the next few months. The task force will take short break and reconvene with a summer weekly meeting schedule. We will continue to communicate regularly, review documents and communications, work on individual and small team assignments, and have special meetings as needed throughout the summer. Congratulations, Bears, we made it! Have a safe and enjoyable summer.
May 11, Update - The task force continues to work on a draft that updates all mitigation measures planned for the fall semester, including possible testing strategies for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Those intended changes will be communicated this June. We also discussed upcoming changes to employee-based guidelines as well as the “living on campus during covid” guidelines for students. We discussed how to monitor the health of the campus and how we may update the dashboard to reflect the newer environment. We meet again tomorrow before taking a short break over the coming few days.
May 10, Update - We are in the final week of mandatory testing. Today’s tests end at 2 p.m., and Thursday’s tests end at noon. Visitors are welcome to come on campus beginning Monday, May 24, but must adhere to all current CDC and Pennsylvania state guidelines, especially those applying to vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals. We continue to closely monitor the educational landscape about vaccination policies and will providing additional info soon. We are also researching alternate quarantining measures. A small committee of faculty and staff continue to make progress on a new flexible work policy; updates coming mid-summer. The task force meets again tomorrow.
May 7, Update - We administered 612 doses during yesterday’s vaccination clinic, and reported just one positive among the among 954 student tests and 59 faculty/staff tests taken Wednesday. The clinic went very smoothly but for those who could not participate, we recommend visiting the government’s vaccine finder website. We continue to evaluate all summer campus guidelines and expect to be updating our webpages with changes soon, including for campus visitors. Everything is looking good for commencement weekend, both baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. Have a great weekend, Bears!
May 3, Update - Last week’s dashboard was updated Friday afternoon. Testing continues today. Also, the mandatory weekly testing session for all students is now Wednesday and the 2nd dose vaccination clinic for campus is Thursday. This weekend’s senior celebration and junior open house events went well. We spoke to student affairs leadership across the Centennial Conference on Friday afternoon about evolving vaccination and testing policies for students; we continue to carefully explore all options. We plan to meet again on Wednesday.
April 30, Update - There were just two new, unique positives out of over 1,000 results from yesterday. This weekend is the senior celebration event. A communication about changes to the testing schedule and next week’s clinic will be sent today. We reviewed the final quarantine and isolation plans for the next two weeks. We again spoke about several possible vaccination policies and/or processes. We meet again this afternoon with other Montgomery County colleges and universities. Have a great weekend, Bears!
April 28, Update - We had three new, unique positives from Monday’s tests. Our regular mandatory testing session resumes tomorrow. Next week, the Rite-Aid vaccine clinic is on Thursday, May 6, so our mandatory testing session has been moved to Wednesday, May 5. A communication about the senior celebratory event is being sent today. (We’re still looking for volunteers!) We expect to have about 85 students living on campus this summer, so we continue to evaluate testing options. Please note: on-campus testing will not be provided to faculty and staff this summer. Approximately 38% of all employees are fully vaccinated, while 112 students have confirmed the same. We discussed the CDC’s new recommendations about mask-wearing; more details to come soon. We meet again tomorrow.
April 26, Update - The COVID-19 dashboard is up to date. Last week, there was one new positive from 1,846 tests. Today, the Task Force discussed some logistics planning around the second dose on-campus vaccination clinic, which will be held Thursday, May 6. Volunteers will also be needed for that clinic and more information will soon be shared with the campus community. As a reminder, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated should report it by visiting https://ursinus.edu/vaccinations and clicking on the form that can be found in the “Fully Vaccinated Information” section. Please take a photo of your completed vaccination card and upload it to the form. Students who are fully vaccinated should email a photo or scan of their vaccination card to email@example.com. The Task Force next meets on Wednesday.
April 23, Update - There were no new, unique positives from this week’s on-campus tests. We are supporting the college’s sustainable move-out plans, which are being finalized. We spoke about the remaining inventory of testing supplies still available for the remainder of the semester. A communication early next week will share updates on key upcoming events on campus. We are working with the CEDC on a tentative plan for a “Movies on the Lawn” summer series. We discussed vaccination recommendations for students living on campus this summer. Reminder that all students, faculty, and staff should let the college know they’ve been fully vaccinated—and that it’s good practice to have a picture of your vaccine card on your phone. We meet again on Monday. Have a great weekend, Bears!
April 21, Update - There were zero positives out of more than 600 tests completed on-campus yesterday. We spoke about using spring testing and contact tracing data to inform our fall decisions. We started receiving questions about college operational matters for both the summer and fall, and will address them soon in a series of communications; we remain optimistic that we will return to a more traditional operation beginning this summer. The community will continue to be involved and consulted in those updates. We reminded everyone to let the college know about vaccinations. Admission spoke about a recent Abele Scholars event, as well as upcoming Access and Junior Open Houses; we will share more information with the campus shortly. Tomorrow is the day for mandatory all student testing. The task force convenes again on Friday.
April 19, Update - Reminder today’s testing session has been moved to tomorrow—Tuesday, April 20—from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Yesterday was the second dose clinic at North Penn HS. We continued discussing longer-term vaccination recommendations, including those four students engaged in college programs over the summer. This week’s communications include directions around move-out and our intentions for the fall semester. Faculty, staff and students are again reminded to please let the college know if they’ve received second/final doses. We will meet again on Wednesday. Have a good week, Ursinus!
April 16, Update - We had 618 participants in yesterday’s on-campus vaccination clinic. It was a smooth and successful day. Everyone is reminded to save vaccination cards for the second dose. Unrelated: the dashboard should be updated today to reflect the 5 new positives this week. We also previewed plans for commencement weekend and tentative summer activities on-campus. A campus communication about fall semester intentions will be sent in the coming 2-3 days. Have a great (and quiet) weekend, Bears!
April 15, Update - There were two new, unique positives reported from yesterday’s mandatory testing session. Today is the voluntary vaccination clinic in the Field House. Just over 600 community members registered for the event. Once you are fully vaccinated, it is very important to let the College know, regardless of where you received the vaccine. Students should send pictures of vaccination cards to firstname.lastname@example.org, faculty and staff should complete the Qualtrics form. We will remind everyone about what to expect post-vaccination—and how to address any side effects—in social media posts the next two days. This information is also available on the vaccine information web page. The task force will meet again tomorrow. Good luck with today’s vaccines!
April 14, Update - Today is the mandatory weekly testing session for all students. Admission and students representing Prof. Roberts’ Innovation in Biology classes joined us. Tomorrow’s vaccination clinic will now provide Pfizer, rather than Moderna, vaccines, and the 2nd dose will now be administered on May 6. As of yesterday evening, we have 542 sign-ups, not including Sodexo and Olympus registrants. We discussed the operation and process for tomorrow as organized by Rite-Aid. We also discussed the need for a few more staff volunteers, who should reach out to Ellen Macionsky. Admission gave a preview of likely fall events and discussed last weekend’s ASD. We talked about general fall operational matters. Upcoming communications involve student check-out, commencements, new fiscal year business, and fall ’21 intentions. We will meet again tomorrow morning.
April 13, Update - As of this morning, 464 campus members registered for Thursday’s vaccination clinic. We will continue to encourage voluntary registration today and tomorrow. Today, the state opens up vaccine registration to all adults in the state. In yesterday’s testing session, we had 4 new positives among 489 total tests. We discussed yesterday’s Zoom Q&A and questions about the 2nd dose timeline. We will meet again tomorrow, which is also this week’s mandatory testing day for all students.
April 12 Update - We spent today’s meeting preparing for this Thursday’s vaccination clinic organized by Rite-Aid. A communication going out today will include a registration link and additional details, including information for possible volunteers. Today’s Zoom call with Dr. Van Aulen addressing any general vaccine questions occurs this afternoon at 2 p.m. The dashboard with last week’s results has been updated. Testing is occurring this morning as scheduled; the mandatory testing session for all students has been moved from Thursday to Wednesday to accommodate the clinic. A joint task force and vaccine working group meeting will happen tomorrow morning.
April 9, Update - No new, unique positives from the 1,081 student tests and 230 faculty/staff tests conducted yesterday in the field house. Today we talked about the ongoing conversations that Dean Bryant is having with the senior class about spring activities and possible events. We continue to explore vaccination opportunities for the campus community. A reminder to faculty/staff to complete the survey indicating your interest in vaccine registrations by Monday. Upcoming communications include updates on summer/fall planning for employees, student move-out instructions, possible vaccination developments, and commencement / Bear Necessities news. Have a safe weekend, Ursinus!
April 8, Update - The mandatory weekly testing session resumes today. Last night, Pres. Blomberg and Dean Bryant met with a group of students to discuss ASD and to clarify other covid-related developments. As a takeaway, we will also work to better explain some differences in the guidelines that exist for students, fac/staff and other members of the community. The Task Force will survey faculty and staff soon about ongoing interest in and receipt of vaccinations. We began discussing when and what a public opening of the Commons might look like in the summer. We are reviewing some Centennial Conference updates and are researching vaccine policies and changes that other colleges might implement for the fall semester. The Task Force meets again tomorrow.
April 7, Update - Last evening’s virtual ASD event went very well. We continue to work with State Rep. Webster’s office and Skippack Pharmacy about upcoming vaccine registration opportunities and will communicate more details soon. Beginning this week, students in Prof. Roberts’ will be working with college communications on a vaccination awareness campaign. Dean Missy Bryant and Pres. Blomberg will be meeting with about 25 students this evening to discuss activities and other covid-related matters. Assc. Dean McKinney joined today’s meeting to report on general student activity requests and upcoming on-campus events. Athletics updates and spring semester policies were reviewed during a Centennial Conference call yesterday. We will meet again tomorrow morning.
April 5, Update - Ursinus continues to work towards gaining access to an allocation of vaccine before the semester’s end. With the constantly shifting nature of the state’s vaccination program, it is unclear if this will be possible, but the Task Force continues advocate for Ursinus’ needs and to plan accordingly. We continue to encourage all members of our community interested in receiving the vaccine, including students who are part of the state’s phase 2 group, to use outside providers if available.
April 2, Update - There were only two new positives from 1,048 student tests and 206 faculty/staff tests administered on campus on Thursday, April 1. There is an additional round of testing today for student-athletes engaged in competition over the weekend. The Task Force discussed various options and next steps regarding its designated status by the state as a “vaccine provider” and more information will be shared as soon as it is available. The Task Force will next meet on Monday morning. Have a nice weekend, Bears!
April 1, Update - Today is the weekly mandatory testing session for students. We heard from the state that Ursinus, along with many other colleges, has been approved as a “vaccine provider.” We are learning more about what that means. We are also working to understand yesterday’s announcement by Gov. Wolf that 1B-eligible individuals can begin scheduling vaccinations on April 5, and that all state residents will be able to schedule vaccinations beginning April 19. A short campus message about this will be sent today from Dean Schneider, and a follow-up communication will be issued early next week. We reviewed yesterday’s message about Dining Dollars. We also spoke about possible volunteer internship opportunities with Skippack Pharmacy / State Rep. Joe Webster supporting vaccination planning. There are some questions about summer housing for students (and remote working) that we are exploring. Admission joined us again and we discussed last Saturday’s highly successful ASD.
March 29, Update - There was a very good turnout for Skippack Pharmacy’s off-campus Phase 1A vaccination clinic on Sunday. Skippack Pharmacy and the Office of Representative Joe Webster have reached to us with an internship opportunity for Ursinus students to help vaccination efforts in Montgomery County. They’d provide remote communication and logistical support. More information will be provided soon.
March 26, Update - Enrollment joined today’s meeting. IMPORTANT: For those who indicated interest in this weekend’s vaccine clinic, please use the latest link sent to you yesterday afternoon from email@example.com. We will see a large number of students leave quarantine / isolation this weekend. There were 3 new positives from 1,107 tests taken on-campus yesterday. We spoke about our confidence in the safety protocols and additional mitigation measures planned for ASD. The athletics website has been updated with this weekend’s schedules. We intend to restore in-person dining at 3 p.m. today in Upper/Lower Wismer and the café, and residence hall visitations this evening. We spoke about likely Main Street housing options for summer interns. We began discussions about possible summer events such as the traditional “Movies on the Lawn” series—more to come. Have a great Friday, Ursinus!
March 25, Update - Today is the regular testing day for all students. We finally have an update on the IBX reimbursement checks—those instructions will be emailed to faculty, staff and students soon! We were made aware of five new positives yesterday, four of whom were quarantining off campus. A total of 275 campus members completed the survey for this Sunday’s vaccine clinic. An email to students today will outline the process around Admitted Students Day and the high level of confidence we have in those plans. We spoke briefly about commencement, athletic camps and possible summer activities. The task force meets again tomorrow morning.
March 24, Update - The dashboard has been updated to reflect final numbers from last week. Mandatory testing continues tomorrow. We previewed this weekend’s athletic schedule and that status of each team. All Phase 1A eligible faculty, staff and students are encouraged to complete a survey for this Sunday’s vaccine clinic at North Penn H.S.; deadline is noon today. We also previewed Saturday’s Admitted Students Day and are preparing a communication to all students about the event; ASD is well-thought-out and closely adheres to all current guidelines. We continue to explore community partnerships and vaccination availability. We reviewed the current isolation and quarantine housing numbers, which are high. The task force convenes again tomorrow.
March 23, Update - The task force and the vaccine logistics working group held a joint meeting this morning. We encourage any current faculty, staff or student in the Phase 1A category to register online for the Ursinus list to receive scheduling notifications with Skippack Pharmacy’s vaccine clinic. Almost 180 people already completed that survey. There were 12 new positive results from yesterday’s special (and mandatory) testing session. We spoke about communicating to students the importance of contact tracing and how they can better support that process. Another targeted testing session is being considered for tomorrow. We meet again tomorrow when admission will join us.
March 22, Update - Today is a special mandatory testing day for all students. We had one new positive out of the 302 tests conducted in the field house on Friday, with three additional positives from wellness and 2 from off-campus. We are also aware of three new positives reported from off-campus on Sunday. A final dashboard update with last week’s totals is coming soon. There is a planned campus update today regarding vaccinations. There will be a joint vaccine working group / task force meeting tomorrow morning. Happy Monday, Bears!
March 19, Update - The task force discussed feedback from yesterday’s communication. We have a special testing session today for all student-athletes who are practicing today or tomorrow. An upcoming communication will address vaccinations and their possible impact on our current testing recommendations. We continue to work with community leaders about possible vaccination scenarios; we intend to issue a campus update early next week. The current estimate is that there were 24 new positives total on campus this week and another 2 who tested positive while quarantining off-campus; the dashboard should be updated tomorrow afternoon. We confirmed the outdoor teaching tents will be ready for use beginning next Monday. We continue to look into the IBX checks that some faculty members and staff have received - no resolution to share yet. Reminder that Monday will be a mandatory testing day for all students. Have a great weekend, Ursinus!
March 18, Update - Today is another full-day testing session. We recorded 11 new positives yesterday for a total of 16 prior to this morning. We reviewed our process and talked about several possible recommendations based on these results. We discussed using the field house, rather than the wellness office, for additional off-hour testing if needed. Centennial Conference athletic directors are meeting this morning to share updates. Yesterday, we met with State Rep. Webster’s office about ongoing vaccination partnerships throughout the area. A campus-wide update will be sent this afternoon providing key updates to students, faculty, and staff. The task force reconvenes tomorrow morning.
March 17, Update - We recorded five new positives from the first two days this week. We are closely monitoring the campus’s health with athletic competition set to begin Saturday. The vaccine working group met yesterday; conversations about possible vaccination options for the campus continue to take place with local leaders. Student affairs leaders from the Centennial Conference met yesterday to share general campus updates. Admission provided an update on Admitted Students Day on March 27—we are prepared and attendance is looking very good. In partnership with the county’s office of public health, we set up another meeting with area colleges to share experiences this Friday. The task force meets again tomorrow.
March 15, Update - Today is the Monday testing session. The dashboard was updated again this past weekend. We anticipate two upcoming communications early this week: a vaccination planning update and a general update involving athletics, testing, and other campus developments. We spoke about the expectations around the fall semester residential and in-person learning experience. The vaccine planning working group meets this afternoon. Have a great day, Ursinus!
March 12, Update - There were an estimated 1,241 tests completed this week, with two likely positives. We confirmed that any member of the campus community who has received one or two vaccine doses should continue to get tested as before and will revisit this as needed. We discussed upcoming communications about athletics and a general campus update. A college-wide decision about summer camps should come within the next few days; any camps would begin after Commencement. Campus tents should be up and available for use beginning March 22. We hope to provide an update on possible vaccination scenarios within the next few days. Have a great weekend, Ursinus!
March 11, Update - Today is the weekly student testing session. We continue to engage in positive discussions with State Rep. Webster’s office about vaccinations and hope to be able to share updates soon. We continue to discuss matters related to on-campus intercollegiate activity, particularly a possible track and field year-end meet. A vaccine communications working group continues to lay the groundwork for an information campaign, should it become necessary. We will meet again tomorrow morning and intend to update the dashboard by Friday afternoon.
March 10, Update - We discussed a proposal for one late spring event along with the challenges, opportunities, and potential for moving forward. We reviewed the draft of the student activity guidelines and plan for its rollout. The fine points will be reviewed later in the week. On the vaccine front, we will have more conversations about vaccines with local elected officials today, and were informed that the temperature logging hardware had arrived for vaccine storage. These are additional steps toward our goal of hopefully being a vaccine distribution site. We discussed a few employee searches including for the Berman Museum’s director position, that are happening now and later in the spring for which we will prepare virus safety protocols and guidance.” team is meeting; the task force meets again Wednesday.
March 8, Update - Today is the first Monday testing session. The dashboard was updated on Friday afternoon. We continued discussing the benefits of summer athletic camps and the possibility of holding them. We are working with the Centennial Conference to better understand testing expectations for student-athletes. We discussed feedback from Friday’s campus announcement. We are updating several Bears Return pages, including employee testing: We recommend faculty and staff who are on campus a minimum of 4 hours per week to get tested at least every other week, either during the Monday on-campus testing session, through the LapCorp pixel tests, or whichever other way is most convenient for them. Tomorrow morning the vaccine “logistics” team is meeting; the task force meets again Wednesday.
March 5, Update - There was one positive result from an estimated 1,297 tests this week. The dashboard is being updated. We continued to discuss several possible scenarios for fall semester planning and discussed in detail a new on-campus activity planning document, which will be available next week. This afternoon we are sending a communication about spring intercollegiate competition along with a change in the weekly testing schedule; Wednesday’s tests are being moved to Mondays. We continue discussing the possibility of on-campus summer camps; there is significant interest from the community. The office of college events and signature programs joined us to review room capacity restrictions, and we met with Prof. Roberts and discussed ways to engage students from her Innovations in Biology class in upcoming plans. We meet again Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!
March 4, Update - A full day of testing resumes this morning. We had zero positive test results from yesterday. We had a good discussion with State Rep. Webster’s office about several possible vaccination options for Ursinus, as well as the approval of the new J&J vaccine; no specific details to share at this time. We also spoke with the county’s office of public health about their interest in possibly using our facilities for a summer vaccination program. We intend to update the campus tomorrow about spring athletics and a change in the testing schedule; more to come. As an FYI: the New York Times continues to track coronavirus cases on its website, which was updated this week. The task force meets again tomorrow.
March 3, Update - Today is Break Day for all students and testing is open for the Wednesday morning session in the field house. A vaccine working group met yesterday to explore four different potential paths for Ursinus; more to come. We have two separate meetings with an elected official and a county official to discuss our Closed POD status today. We continue to plan for several spring athletic scenarios and are finalizing the proposed student organization activity form. Very preliminary discussions about possible fall semester mitigation and compliance measures continued. Admission provided updates on key in-person events: last weekend’s successful biology academic day saw a 100% turnout, while this weekend’s three academic days are looking good as well. Last evening’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Variants webinar, hosted by the Parlee Center, was well attended and recorded for future use.
March 1, Update - We are exploring several on-site testing options for Olympus employees. We updated the new activity request form for student organizations. and spoke about supporting this Wednesday’s Break Day. We talked about several upcoming campus communications, including an update to the testing schedule. Our confidence in the recent antigen test results remains high; we recorded no student positive results over the past two weeks. We continue to aggressively prepare for the potential outcomes of any Centennial Conference decision on spring athletics. Our vaccine working groups (operations and communications) continue their planning should any changes to the status of our Closed POD application occur. We confirmed that we are on schedule to have outdoor tent space before the end of March. One of the vaccine working groups meet tomorrow; the task force convenes again on Wednesday.
February 26, Update - We completed 1,269 antigen tests this week, with only one faculty/staff member testing positive (which was confirmed with a PCR test). We are planning a few different test scheduling options for student-athletes should the Centennial Conference ultimately allow for spring competition. Student affairs is developing a proposal template for student activities, should we be able to accommodate them later this spring. We discussed possible summer intern housing. We spoke about how to engage students across campus in helping with any possible on-campus vaccination effort. We are looking into checks from IBX that a few faculty and staff have received to cover the “out-of-network” pre-Thanksgiving tests; more details to come. We confirmed that faculty/staff on campus more than four hours every week should continue to be tested regularly on campus, through the LabCorp pixel test or whichever test is most convenient. We meet again Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!
February 24, Update - Today’s testing started well. We continue to pull together two small teams to 1) coordinate all logistical and operational concerns related to a potential vaccine program, and 2) how to communicate vaccination information to the campus. The latter group first met on Tuesday and discussed how to promote attendance at the March 2 Parlee Center webinar titled, “COVID-19: Vaccines and Variants.” The task force spoke about student activities and how to address potential requests as we head into the spring. The Centennial Conference presidents meet next week to finalize their plans for spring athletics. Admission gave an update on this weekend’s biology academic day, and next weekend’s B&E, MCS and chemistry academic days. There has been a great response and all events are at (or will be soon at) capacity. We meet again on Friday.
February 22, Update - We had zero positive test results last week and the dashboard was updated with those results on Saturday. The Centennial Conference presidents meet today to continue discussing spring athletics. A communication about the upcoming housing lottery will go out this afternoon, as well as a follow-up email to students commuting due to COVID. Testing occurs again Wed. morning for those with fac/staff and those with extenuating circumstances, and Thursday all day for the entire student body. We tentatively plan to meet again on Wednesday.
February 19, Update - Testing continues today. We updated the faculty/staff Defend the Den page with a list of the college’s COVID workplace coordinators. We discussed potential residential guidelines for students interested in conducting research on campus this summer; no decisions have been made and that conversation will continue. We discussed the process supporting the upcoming senior portraits. We spoke about summer inquiries and external interest of athletic facility rentals. We will meet again on Monday. Have a great weekend!
February 18, Update - A reminder that testing has been rescheduled for tomorrow due to weather. Yesterday’s shorter session saw no positives among the 69 students and 118 faculty/staff tested. We reviewed the current quarantine and isolation situation on campus—that has decreased significantly. A small team charged with creating a vaccination awareness campaign will first meet on Monday. Centennial Conference presidents meet next week again to discuss spring athletics. We meet again tomorrow.
February 17, Update — Thursday testing has been moved to Friday due to expected inclement weather. Our Wednesday testing operation started smoothly today. We are outfitting Lower Wismer with plexiglass dividers for take-out seating and lounging. We are also helping the café with its physically distancing measures. A smaller team charged with putting together a vaccination “awareness campaign” will be meeting soon. A message about tomorrow’s Break Day was sent to the campus this morning. Planning for the upcoming March 16 admission Academic Day with Business and Economics was discussed. We talked about yesterday’s BLT session and what other information we’ll need to share in the near future. Our next meeting is tomorrow morning.
February 16, Update —Today is the BLT for faculty and staff. We continue to monitor the athletics landscape; spring practices and strength workouts are beginning for student-athletes. We are reaching out to local elected officials to discuss our “closed POD” application status. We discussed the upcoming break day and the importance of supporting our students during this down time. Early planning for in-person commencement was discussed. Testing resumes tomorrow morning, with the Wednesday appointment slots primarily for faculty and staff. Have a great Tuesday, everyone!
February 15, Update - Last Friday’s testing went well, with all students being tested on one day. All of the students returning over the weekend after completing quarantine tested negative. One of the students who was quarantining at home has tested positive and moved to isolating at home. This week marks the move to Thursday only testing for students. faculty and staff, as well as students without Thursday availability can be tested by appointment on Wednesday mornings. Today is the start of limited in-person dining, field house access, and resident students being permitted to visit other residence halls. Also, this week some athletic teams will resume practice and volleyball intramurals will begin. We hope to phase-in more intramural options for students. The BLT for faculty and staff is tomorrow. Please register and submit your questions through the links in the calendar listing.
February 12, Update —Today is the extra testing session in the fieldhouse. The dashboard was updated yesterday to reflect 7 new, unique positives from this week’s earlier tests; contact tracing is complete. Six of those 7 positives were from students just leaving quarantine. More than 270 people joined yesterday’s student/parent town hall, which was recorded and will be posted to the Defend the Den pages later today. We confirmed more details about on-campus senior portraits happening in the next few weeks. We continued a conversation around the possibility of external student intern housing this summer, depending on such things as the health of campus and access to testing. We continue to evaluate vaccination matters and had a conversation with our insurance broker yesterday. A communication being sent later today will announce a change in weekly testing from Mondays/Tuesdays to Thursdays—see email for more details. Have a great weekend!
February 11, Update — We are prepared for tomorrow’s extra testing session. All contact tracing resulting from Monday and Tuesday’s tests is now complete; the dashboard is being updated and our weekly social media post will go live today. Also tomorrow, we will announce a change to the weekly testing schedule beginning the week of 2/15—more details to come. We are making final arrangements for tonight’s open virtual session, and we started discussing key points for next week’s faculty/staff BLT. (Please register now!) We are updating our dining hall procedures, recommendations around residence hall visits and other activities next week, and will communicate those changes on Sunday. There is no update on spring athletics. We spoke about possibly making more KN95 masks available to faculty/staff on a voluntary basis. We meet again tomorrow morning. Have a great Thursday!
February 9, Update —We continue with the random antigen / PCR testing model today. Yesterday we recorded a preliminary total of 572 antigen tests resulting in 3 positives; nearly 350 PCR tests were also taken. The official tally from Monday will be shared once we confirm all PCR test results later this week. While take-out dining continues on a temporary basis, we are evaluating a return to eat-in dining soon. We are considering a few different scheduling options for on-campus testing for the remainder of the semester. We anticipate beginning athletic team practices as early as next week—more details to come. We are also preparing to put up classroom tents in March. Students and families are reminded to join us for Thursday evening’s open session, and we continue to prepare for that. Our next meeting is tomorrow morning.
February 8, Update —Testing resumes today and we are continuing with the random antigen and PCR split model. The dashboard was updated yesterday evening. We spoke further, refining our data reporting process with partners across campus and are also reviewing the testing schedule for the remainder of the semester. Dean Bryant met with student affairs leaders from across the Centennial Conference and discussed antigen testing, commencement outlooks, and possible vaccine strategies. We began discussing this Thursday’s upcoming student/parent town hall. We will meet again tomorrow.
February 5, Update —We reviewed the preliminary test results and contact tracing from this week and discussed our strategy for next week, which will continue to be half antigen and half PCR testing. We are slightly revising the dashboard for clarity and simplicity. Sodexo employees will now be tested on campus. We continue to research different vaccination guidance and what our expectations will be for both students and faculty/staff—more details to come. Basketball in the field house will remain “closed” until further noticed and we plan to promote better fitness center etiquette among students. We are extending takeout policy through next Friday. A communication to students and parents is being sent today regarding next week’s open virtual session and updates on quarantining (and isolating) off-campus. Have a good weekend, everyone!
February 4, Update —Testing continues today. There were seven new, unique positives from yesterday’s antigen tests; we are awaiting the results of the PCR tests. Contact tracing was activated yesterday. We are reviewing the status of all students currently in quarantine, or those leaving today. We continue to prep for our conversations with both colleges in Montgomery County and the student affairs leaders across the Centennial Conference. We are finalizing details for next Thursday’s virtual open session for students and parents. A communication planned for tomorrow will mention this and also discuss our effective quarantining policy. We are meeting again tomorrow.
February 3, Update—Testing commences again today and tomorrow, which includes random antigen and PCR testing. We are gathering fellow Montgomery County colleges to discuss COVID-related updates later this week and participating in a call with fellow student affairs leadership from colleges across the Centennial Conference. We spoke about general vaccination matters and upcoming expectations for students, faculty and staff—more details and clarity to come soon. In an admission update, it was reported that the college has hosted 2,810 prospective students and family members since July, with no evidence of transmission during that time. We also spoke about the mitigation measures we have in place to support of the upcoming academic department days for prospective students. Montgomery County has approved our application to become a general closed POD, and that application now goes to the state for COVID-vaccine specific consideration. This remains an ongoing process. There are 20 students expected to return from quarantine today. We are meeting again tomorrow.
February 2, Update —Today’s testing has been rescheduled for Thursday. We expect 16 students to return from quarantine today, with many more through the end of the week. We are reviewing all related logistical matters to ensure a smooth transition. Good progress has been made in our talks with the Residence Inn Marriott about quarantine support should it ever become necessary. We have upgraded our refrigeration as part of the Closed POD application process. We are working with Sodexo to support on-campus testing for its employees. A reminder about today’s BLT at 1:30 p.m.—faculty and staff can register here. We are meeting again tomorrow morning. Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!
February 1, Update—Reminder that testing has been rescheduled this week—please check email. A special testing session for 56 students leaving quarantine will be held Thursday from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m. We are introducing a random blend of antigen and PCR testing this week. We reviewed available quarantine lodging across campus. We are meeting today with a local hotel to discuss additional quarantine lodging should it ever become necessary. We had a meeting on Friday about our closed POD application status and received good initial feedback, including recommendations about refrigeration requirements. We discussed ongoing communication to students in quarantine promoting physical distancing and other guidelines. We continue to provide (and monitor) the new table partitions in IDC. We are reviewing all aggregate data from last week and will continue to update the dashboard with the latest information. An important reminder for faculty/staff that our first BLT of the semester is taking place tomorrow. Please see the event listing for more information. We meet again tomorrow morning.
January 29, Update —We confirmed that any vaccinated student named as a contact must still enter quarantine per the Montgomery County office of public health. We also spoke with county officials about our progress this semester and will have a call today to discuss our closed POD application. We are in contact with other regional colleges about testing and vaccination, as well as possible coordination ordering antigen tests. There were 3 positives out of 538 antigen tests yesterday; 5 total PCR tests were also conducted. We confirmed that students cannot visit any residence halls other than their own for the next few weeks. We are ensuring the public spaces in Commons, especially near the café, follow physical distancing guidelines, and that all dining services are currently takeout only. We are discussing possible extra quarantine space with a local hotel should that ever become necessary and conducted an inventory of available on-campus space. Ultimately, we continue to strongly encourage students to plan for quarantine off campus (at home) if possible. We are preparing for a QUICK turnaround to again test on Monday and Tuesday, which will consist of random antigen and PCR tests. We are also preparing for a large return of students (approx. 51) from quarantine next Wed.-Fri., so we’ll have special antigen test sessions for those students later in the week.
January 28, Update —BJ Boughter, DNP and our nurse practitioner, will assume the role of lead case manager, taking over from Katie Turek (who has done a terrific job!). Katie will continue to serve as a case manager. There were six new, unique positives from Tuesday’s on-campus testing results. We discussed at length the logistical details supporting the second round of testing occurring today and tomorrow. All students are asked to be extra to be vigilant and cautious, especially through the end of the week, as the results of the antigen and PCR tests are weighed. We discussed air circulation in several of our buildings and spoke about how to ensure that physical distancing measures in the Commons are closely followed. A follow up campus communication will be sent within the next 24 hours. Our next meeting is tomorrow.
January 27, Update— We spoke with the enrollment team about the upcoming, on-campus admission events and how to continue engaging our community in a healthy and safe manner. We received positive results from Monday’s testing, have started contact tracing and are analyzing the results. A communication detailing these results will be sent to the campus today. The Bear’s Return page is being updated with new information about Abbott antigen testing, and event listings have been created for a series of virtual events (BLTs and a town hall). We meet again tomorrow morning.
January 26, Update —We spoke about the dashboard results. We recorded about a one percent positivity rate among the 1,200 test results, which we had expected. Contact tracing was completed yesterday evening and there a higher number of student quarantines than we averaged last semester. We understand there may be some anxiety with those numbers—we fielded many questions from faculty and students, which we also plan to address in our next campus communication and in an upcoming blog post by Dean Schneider. We continue with on-campus testing today; yesterday went well. We continue to conduct limited dry-runs of antigen tests to prepare for next week. A reminder that neighbors are being asked to stay off campus, and that the café and the bookstore are not open to general public traffic at this time. No word yet on the status of our Closed POD application. Our next meeting is tomorrow morning.
January 25, Update —There were 11 positives of the 1,200 test results we received through late Sunday evening. Those results include a few staff members. Given the delay in test reporting, the dashboard will likely be updated later this afternoon. Contact tracing is ongoing, given the late notice of the results. PCR testing resumes today and tomorrow. We are practicing delivering antigen tests this week in preparation for the official transition to a hybrid model next week. We spoke about balancing recreational activity in the field house with our testing operation, while also ensuring students follow health guidelines. (Basketball nets will temporarily be unavailable as we ramp up test operations.) The next all campus communication will be sent mid-week. We are meeting again Tuesday morning.
January 22, Update - We are waiting for test results and plan to update the dashboard this weekend. We continue to make progress on the transition to a hybrid antigen / PCR model for Feb. 1. We are training additional case managers to support our campus effort. Though we have no update on our Closed POD application, we continue to learn more about procedures should we get approval. In the meantime, all employees are encouraged to learn more about the MontCo vaccine registry. We spoke about indoor capacity and room reservation requests; we intend to remain conservative and cautious in the short-term. We briefly discussed guidelines for vendors supporting future events, such as May Commencement; we’ll continue to evaluate as the semester progresses. We are working with the coordinators to make final preparations for on-campus isolation and quarantine lodging. Next meeting is Monday.
January 21, Update —Everything went well for the first day of testing. We remain in contact with Abbott regarding antigen tests, and we remain hopeful to move to a hybrid testing model on Feb. 1. We’re monitoring the outdoor traffic and seating options around Wismer, given we’re in a take-out only phase. We are planning the next series of faculty/staff BLTs and student/parent town halls with President Blomberg and Dean Schneider—more details to come soon. The task force will meet again Friday morning.
January 20, Update —Testing has official started this morning, and things have gone smooth so far. We received 1,229 pre-arrival tests as of this morning and have been in touch with faculty about students who may be arriving late to campus. We completed a communication that will be sent to faculty and staff later this morning about our employee guidelines. In that email, we encourage any faculty or staff member who has been vaccinated to fill out this form. We had a report from admission, with a focus on incoming transfer students and the planning for in-person ASDs this semester. The dashboard will be updated this weekend with the first round of results from today and tomorrow. Our next meeting is tomorrow morning.
January 19, Update —We are completing logistics for the launch of on-campus testing tomorrow. The rest of the semester testing will be weekly on Monday and Tuesday only. To date, we received 1,211 pre-arrival tests from students. Two communications will be sent within the next day, providing additional “return to campus” details for both students and faculty/staff. We continue to monitor and be in close communication with our peer institutions about potential vaccine protocols on their campuses. We spoke about how best to help plan and support both virtual and in-person, large-scale events such as the May orientation program for the incoming Class of 2025. We discussed greater access to seating options outside of Wismer, especially during the two-week take-out only period in dining services. The college is on the state registry to become a “closed POD,” though we have no updates on our application status. A reminder that all student-athletes who learn remotely but plan to participate in on-campus team events must record a pre-arrival test and sign-up for weekly on-campus testing. Our next meeting is tomorrow morning.
January 15, Update —The online registration form to sign up for testing time slots is now available for students and will be promoted in a communication today. The Bears Return pages continue to be updated. A correction to the last task force update: As of this week, Wellness Center and athletic training staff have been getting vaccinated, not those administering the on-campus tests as previously suggested. We will ask faculty and staff who are currently being vaccinated to let the college know; more details to come about that process. We are discussing what a potential vaccination recommendation for both students and faculty/staff may look like, though we remain focused on making vaccines accessible to our community. We continue to learn more about the state’s Phase 1B roll-out. To date, around 860 pre-arrival test results have been submitted; that deadline is approaching. We spoke with HR today about how we can best support employees who must quarantine or isolate; further information coming soon. Our next meeting is Tuesday morning
January 11, Update — We have a noon training session for our on-site testers in preparation of next week. We have received more than 300 pre-arrival tests to date, with six positives in that mix, and we remain in direct communication with those reporting positive results. We continue to make significant progress on the Abbott antigen tests agreement; it is our hope to begin using these tests in early February. We reviewed the roles of case managers and to make sure we are effectively transitioning to the spring semester—as we are with our student coordinators and the contract tracers, too. We will further explain this process and the roles of these teams in an upcoming campus communication. Students affairs is hosting a virtual call later this afternoon for students to discuss this semester and the “living on campus” guidelines. Our next task force meeting is Wednesday morning.
January 8, Update —A brief communication will be sent to faculty within the next day about the upcoming 10-day quarantine period and testing options as we prepare for the first week of classes. A more comprehensive communication focused on employee matters will be sent late next week. The final, updated “return to work” guidelines will be posted to Bears Return. We discussed possible summer internship housing, summer athletic camps, and longer-term facility rental policies—all of which depend on the vaccine roll-out and the general health of the community. We held a training program for those involved in on-site testing and will continue to work closely with CIC-Health to have final preparations in place for testing the week of Jan. 18. Our next task force meeting is on Monday.
January 6, Update —We discussed the support of curricular and artistic requests from the Berman Museum. The final application to become a “closed POD” will be submitted today. An employee-focused communication containing details about that program, as well as some additional information about vaccinations and the updated faculty/staff guidelines, will be sent next week. The virus task force will meet with HR soon to discuss additional details. We continue to learn more about the recently passed Coronavirus Relief Bill and its impact on Ursinus. Student-focused communications being sent this week include more information about pre-arrival testing, a reminder about the student guidelines, and specific information for students moving on campus for the first time. Our next task force meeting will be this Friday.
January 4, Update —Welcome back! Earlier this morning, we discussed the easing of current indoor restrictions and will talk with reps from the café, the Berman, the fitness center and other campus partners about possible changes to in-person service through the rest of break. In other news, we intend to finalize a semester-long agreement with Abbott to supply weekly antigen tests, though we solely intend to use PCR tests the first two weeks of the semester. We confirmed that Wellness Center staff will be vaccinated in the near-term, and that the formal documentation to become a “closed POD” is near completion. We will issue another communication to students this week, reminding them that pre-arrival PCR testing must be completed by January 14. Based on feedback, the student affairs team is currently updating the student guidelines for living on campus. The next task force meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 6.
December 23, Update —Today we spoke about possibly working with facilities to install plexiglass barriers in Wismer, the IDC and other public areas where students congregate for meals. We continue to make progress on the Abbott antigen tests we plan to implement. We are monitoring the national headlines and public discussion about vaccine accessibility and requirements. We are finalizing updates to the employee-focused return-to-work guidelines, and we have been updating the Bears Return/Defend the Den website with new information. The COVID-19 inbox will continue to be monitored over break, though response times may not be as quick. The next campus communication about pre-arrival testing will likely be around January 1. The task force will officially meet again on January 4.
December 18, Update —We continue to make progress on paperwork to become a “closed POD” for the vaccine this spring. We spoke about the state’s recent statement encouraging colleges “to consider delaying bringing students back to Campus and beginning the term online,” while reaffirming our confidence in the mitigation measures put in place across campus. We are preparing for how to administer the Abbott antigen testing, should that option become available later in January. We are investigating whether to offer on-site pre-arrival testing for students on Jan.14 and 15—if the option becomes available, more details would be provided via email and the website. We confirmed that all classroom spaces have been assigned and locked in for next semester. We again committed to a 10-day quarantine period for the spring. And the task force continues to update our employee-focused return-to-work guidelines for the beginning of the calendar year. The task force will next meet on Dec.. 23, to discuss any important developments. Happy holidays, Ursinus!
December 16, Update—We continue to discuss the implications of the state’s new shutdown order, and its emphasis on “essential” operations. We are still working on antigen testing details, but our intention is to begin the semester continuing with weekly PCR testing before incorporating antigen testing after a couple of weeks. More details to come. Other on-campus logistical matters, as well as the state’s updated mitigation orders, were discussed. We spoke about the positive response to telehealth visits and how to continue promoting access to health services for students. We discussed tele-working and its impact on different departments across campus. An upcoming faculty communication will strongly encourage limited activity on “Break Days.” A final campus communication about January self-quarantining and pre-arrival testing, along with other reminders, will be sent this week.
December 9, Update—Ursinus is applying to become a closed “point of dispensing” (POD) within Montgomery County, which would eventually allow the college access to medical supplies and administer vaccines. This is a complicated process, and we’ll provide additional information when we can. Dean Schneider will continue to update his blog through the winter with insight into COVID-related issues and their impact on higher education. Today’s task force meeting is probably the last of the week, so another update on Friday is unlikely.
December 7, Update—We continue to research testing options, costs, availability, and process for the spring semester. They include individual PCR, “pooled” PCR and antigen testing. There are still a lot of variables we are navigating. We provided updates to Montgomery County health officials, along with several other local colleges, on Friday. We will move to a 10-day quarantine in January to parallel the new CDC guidelines. We confirmed that Ursinus will require all students to self-quarantine for 10 days before returning to campus this spring. And we are updating the employee “return-to-work” guidelines to reflect the latest information from CDC and the state department of health.
December 4, Update —All quarantining and isolation on campus are now completed. In yesterday’s AICUP membership meeting, CIC-Health spoke about the benefits of both “pooled” PCR tests and antigen testing for the spring semester. We continue to evaluate options and intend to have a spring semester testing proposal by the end of next week. We are evaluating the CDC’s new guidelines on quarantine timelines, which became effective this Wednesday, and what adaptations we need should consider making. The final December and winter break hours for the Schellhase Commons are posted on “Merry on Main!”
December 2, Update — Dean Schneider has been updating his blog with special insight gleaned from a semester’s worth of action. He will meet with other Montgomery County colleges on Friday to exchange ideas and lessons learned. We reviewed our experience with Bear River, last Monday’s onetime testing provider, and we continue conversations about next semester’s testing strategies. We spoke briefly about today’s news about new vaccines and the college’s potential access to them sometime next semester. We will update the Bears Return page with information for on-campus employees interested in pixel testing.
(11/30) Note: After eight months of daily standing meetings, the task force has shifted to a new schedule, meeting three times per week. They will continue to hold special meetings whenever needed. Updates will be posted here.
November 24, Update —Nearly 530 students, faculty and staff registered for yesterday’s special testing session. Today the task force reflected on our testing operation and what we learned over the semester. We briefly reviewed the governor’s new advisory order and the state’s updated mitigation efforts. Of those “COVID commuters” who have made a final decision about the spring semester, about one-half have indicated they will live on campus next semester; we’ll continue to follow-up with those still undecided. The updated room and board adjustment policy (i.e., the “separation” policy) for the spring semester has been posted to the SFS website. We know that demand for the LabCorp Pixel tests has increased and there is limited access to them, so we are planning an early December communication to faculty and staff about other options. Last, we considered recommendations for an upcoming lifeguarding/first-aid course here on campus.
November 23, Update —Our optional testing session runs through 4 p.m. this afternoon. You are still welcome to participate, even if you haven’t registered. Please try to come at the time assigned alphabetically by your last name. The dashboard has been updated to reflect last week’s two new, unique positive results. This is the last day for faculty and staff to tell us how well we’re communicating internally—complete the survey today! A promotional plan to promote the short-term opening of the Schellhase Commons rolls-out tomorrow.
November 20, Update—We have yet to receive all results from Tuesday and Wednesday’s tests. Of the results we do have from those 2 days, there were zero new, unique positives. Contact tracing was completed for Monday’s two positive cases. We are aware that demand for the at-home LabCorp Pixel tests has significantly increased and access to them has been limited—we are looking into that issue and other options. Communications about the temporary opening of the Schellhase Commons will begin rolling out today. And an email promoting Monday’s special testing session will also be sent to the campus community early this afternoon; online registration will remain open today at https://go.ursinus.edu/Nov23Test. We strongly encourage you to sign-up!
November 19, Update —Today was a relatively short meeting. We have yet to receive results from Tuesday’s tests. We completed 1,124 tests this week, down approximately ten percent from our weekly averages (likely due to students leaving campus early for Thanksgiving). Tomorrow we’ll issue a communication with more details about the optional Monday testing session, as well as general travel updates for students and families. Just over 300 people signed up for Monday’s tests so far. The deadline to register for testing is later today. Previous Updates
November 18, Update —We recorded two new, unique positive cases from Monday’s batch of test results—one student living on campus, the other a commuting student. Contract tracing has been activated. Yesterday we issued an email about Monday’s special testing session and its online registration; we have just under 250 responses so far. We spoke briefly about a new Duke University study that confirms the “…importance of widespread testing of asymptomatic individuals to prevent transmission.” We also discussed the new state guidelines issued earlier this week. Last, we confirmed that families and off-campus friends are3 not permitted to enter the residence halls but may drive to campus to pick up their students for Thanksgiving and remote learning.
November 17, Update —We continue with our second day of testing this week. A communication will be sent this afternoon about the optional testing sessions we are scheduling for Monday, Nov. 23. We reviewed yesterday’s “tier 3” task force meeting; there was interest about the likely transition from weekly PCR testing to weekly antigen testing and other related updates. We spoke about the role the Health Corps can play in communicating these changes. Admission provided an update on spring semester events and the importance of Admitted Student Days. We remind current faculty and staff to complete the internal communications survey, which includes a few questions about COVID-related messaging.
November 16, Update—It was a busy weekend. On Sunday we communicated the results of Friday’s special testing session for BPS students. The dashboard is updated to reflect last week’s activity. We are finalizing details for next Monday’s optional on-site testing program, which will be communicated to the campus community in the next day. The larger “Tier 3” of the task force will be meeting this afternoon. The college is finalizing a marketing plan to invite community members to visit the Schellhase Commons over winter break
November 13, Update —We recorded 4 new, unique positives from Wednesday’s tests. Contact tracing continues. There were 7 new, unique positives recorded this week, 6 of whom live in BPS. As a precautionary measure, we are closely monitoring this and are emphasizing greater self-quarantine and safety measures for students in BPS. We are also conducting a special testing session this afternoon for BPS students for their wellbeing. A communication will be sent to the campus community outlining this general plan. We remain confident in the measures we’ve put in place to date and anticipated such a game plan would likely be necessary sometime this semester, given the rise of cases in the region. We believe we are well prepared to quickly and effectively respond to today’s news!
November 12, Update - We had two new, unique positive results out of 429 samples submitted from Tuesday. Contact tracing continues. An internal communications survey that includes a few questions about COVID messaging was sent yesterday to faculty and staff, who are encouraged to complete the survey. We are reviewing both CDC and Montgomery County travel recommendations, so we may provide guidance to quarantined students who have to fly or use public transportation to return home for Thanksgiving. A communication about that and other pre-Thanksgiving considerations will come in the next day or two. We also reviewed the phased facility shutdown plan that begins post-Thanksgiving.
November 11, Update —We recorded one new, unique positive from Monday’s on-campus tests. Contact tracing has been activated. Today the task force discussed the humidity challenge in the fitness center and the possibility of similar challenges in other locations across campus. We confirmed there will be an optional testing option for Monday, Nov. 23, and will ask students (and faculty/staff) to register in advance—that communication is coming soon. We also confirmed the Schellhase Commons (and the café and bookstore) will open to our Collegeville neighbors between Nov. 30 and the beginning of the spring semester, with the exception of the two weeks the campus is officially closed. We began discussing some possible enhancements to the Wismer dining space to promote health guidelines, and we emailed all students this morning reminding them of the importance of “defending the den” over these next two weeks, as cases rise throughout the region.
November 10, Update—We presented both our testing strategy and semester updates to fellow college leaders during an AICUP call yesterday, which was well received. The communication about an optional testing day on Monday, November 23 will be sent to the campus community next week, which will also include tips on how students should approach the remaining 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. So far, 51 current commuting students have let us know their intentions for living on campus next spring; 24 of those indicated they plan to return. We received a “cautiously optimistic” admission update in which the number of applications continue to trend upwards. And we briefly discussed trends about COVID-19 happening at other regional institutions.
November 9, Update - The dashboard has been updated to reflect last week’s testing and contact tracing results. We intend to communicate final plans about the November 23, optional on-campus test early next week. We’ve begun to develop a game plan supporting the likely opening of the Schellhase Commons, on a temporary basis, to the public after Thanksgiving and over the holiday break. All faculty and staff will soon receive a survey seeking for feedback on internal communications, including how well we’ve kept you updated on important COVID-related news and announcements. Last, we are closely monitoring regional and county-wide increases in COVID cases; we continue to discourage students from traveling off campus so they approach Thanksgiving break and their return home in as healthy a way possible.
November 6, Update —We’ve collected all on-campus testing results from this week and we now have 3 new, unique positives. We are also aware of 1 student who testing positive while off-campus, as well as 1 new staff member who has also tested positive off-campus. We are in regular communication with each of these college members, and contact tracing has been activated. In other news, we believe we are getting closer to adopting an antigen test for the spring. More to come. Plans concerning the opening of the Commons post-Thanksgiving are being finalized and should be communicated next week. A recording of this Wednesday night’s town hall has been posted on Bears Return. Last, we’re receiving a lot of positive survey responses from students who have been commuting and are interested in living on campus in the spring.
November 5, Update —There are no additional new positives through the first two days of on-campus testing this week. More than 450 people registered for last night’s virtual town hall, which went very well; most questions concerned testing, move-out and the spring academic calendar. Two communications are being sent to students today: one to current commuters only inquiring about their plan to move on to campus in the spring, the other to students residing on campus about move-out instructions. We spoke further about the possibility of recommending that the Schellhase Commons temporarily open to our community neighbors post-Thanksgiving through early January, but no decision has been made.
November 4, Update —We have one new, unique positive from Monday’s batch of results. We considered a few final recommendations for keeping the Schellhase Commons open to the local community during winter break. We also continue to discuss post-Thanksgiving requests related to research and academic interests. We prepared for this evening’s town hall with students and parents and are finalizing a communication about “move out.” We’re also reaching out to current “commuter” students, gauging their interest in becoming residential in the spring
November 3, Update —We discussed Pennsylvania’s “COVID-19 Information for Travelers” webpage and continue regularly evaluating our “return to work” guidelines, particularly as they pertain to quarantine recommendations. We continue to make positive strides in securing antigen testing, perhaps as early as December. More updates to come. We are wrapping up final details to provide a testing option for interested students, faculty, and staff the Monday prior to Thanksgiving. More to come on that, too. Last, the Health Corps is making progress on a social media and infographics campaign to support our Defend the Den initiatives.
November 2 Update—The dashboard was updated Saturday to reflect last week’s test results, including the one positive we recorded. We continue to explore possible testing options for any interested students, faculty and staff for Monday, Nov. 23. We continue to lay the groundwork for potential on-campus antigen testing to begin this spring. On Friday, we conducted a focus group of students currently learning remotely. The conversation was generally positive and their outlook for the spring was optimistic, though they expressed concerns about dining options and technology / connectivity. We talked about a few important points to include in the upcoming virtual open session on Wednesday evening such as our broader strategic planning efforts, student guidelines, academic courses and athletics.
October 30, Update —We had one positive out of 1,218 test samples this week. Contact tracing has been activated. On Monday, we will reach out to students permitted to remain on campus post-Thanksgiving with updated guidelines and expectations. While our normal testing operation will draw to a close on Wednesday, Nov. 18, for the semester, we are considering whether to offer a short-term option for interested students, faculty and staff who may like a final test on Monday, Nov. 23 before heading home for the Thanksgiving holiday. More details to come. We are starting a conversation about vaccines; we are taking the initiative to conduct preliminary research and are participating in webinars to learn more as this process unfolds at the national level.
October 29, Update—After two days of testing this week, we have zero new positive results. We continue to aggressively explore antigen testing options for the beginning of the spring semester, with several leads. We discussed strategic communications and how to make sure the Ursinus community knows well in advance of any possible changes/updates to our COVID operations for January. We spoke about the dashboard, which has seen a growth in page views for five consecutive weeks, totaling more than 14,500 in the past five weeks. And we spoke about clearly communicating more student-focused updates from residence life in the coming days and weeks, especially around the “move-out” process.
October 28, Update—There were zero positive results from Monday’s batch of tests. We spoke about updating (and evaluating) the signage plan at key entrance points for both winter break and the spring semester. We reviewed yesterday’s BLT session and how best to provide a few additional details to some of the questions asked. We are working through key points to include in next Wednesday night’s open session with parents and students. The major announcement about the spring academic calendar was sent to the campus community and all parents this morning. We spoke about how to support (and advise) the U-Imagine Center’s “Imagine Fest” and its 15-hour marathon event this weekend, given the current environment. A message from student affairs will be sent on Friday regarding expectations for student behavior this Halloween weekend.
October 27, Update —To date, fewer than 30 students have petitioned to remain on campus after Thanksgiving. We are considering a few options for keeping the Commons open and perhaps making it available to the local community. We are also looking at which other building would make for a good study space for those remaining students. Regarding move-out, we are likely to close residence halls around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, with exceptions for those in late afternoon classes. We confirmed that proof of testing will be required during spring semester move-in; other processes that support move-in were also discussed. We spoke about spring enrollment (for transfers, international and new first-years) and how we are planning for important admission events, such as open houses. We continue to look at the new CDC definition of “close contact” and how it impacts our faculty and students. Faculty and staff are reminded to Reminder to register and submit questions for today’s BLT with Brock and Mark at noon!
October 26, Update—The dashboard has been updated to reflect last week’s zero new positive tests. We continue to make progress on implementing a possible antigen testing strategy for the spring. President Blomberg will provide an update on our fall and semester plans during a special BLT virtual session this Tuesday at noon (check the faculty staff page and email for more details today). We spoke about this week’s communications regarding the spring calendar along with a special note that will go to students who are currently commuting due to COVID-19.
October 23, Update—There are zero positive results from 1,240 tests we submitted this seek. Today is the last day for students who need to remain on campus after Thanksgiving to complete the petition for that request. We started discussing the process around pre-arrival testing in January, and we are still considering the testing schedule for the abbreviated Thanksgiving week. With final exams now concluding on Dec. 22, we spoke about making sure students are fully supported through the beginning of the faculty/staff holiday break. And we continue to review changes to the CDC’s new definition of a “close contact,” that we reported yesterday.
October 22, Update - Tuesday’s test results arrived and, like Monday, we recorded zero new, unique positives. We spoke about changes to how the CDC defines a “close contact,” which is now, “Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period…” We’re considering the possible impact of that change on the contact tracing process. More to come. We discussed the upcoming cover story for Ursinus Magazine that features the college’s response to the pandemic. We again spoke about early preparations we need to put in place for possible spring antigen testing. We discussed the likely (and temporary) opening of Café 2020 to our community neighbors during winter break, when all students are off campus. Last, we will remind students of the post-Thanksgiving stay-on-campus petition, which must be submitted by tomorrow, October 23.
October 21—Out of 405 test results from Monday, there were no positives. The Wellness Center and the task force are putting the proper procedures in place should we be able to move to antigen testing in the future. We plan to follow up with the Health Corps on ideas stemming from yesterday’s conversation. And we briefly discussed possible recommendations for MLK Week’s community service projects.
October 20, Update —Today the task force welcomed student representatives from the Health Corps. We spoke about transparency in communications and how we can encourage students to remain focused, keep them engaged and discourage growing complacent. We talked about the importance of keeping students on campus, how to streamline contact tracing and creating a “PSA” campaign of sorts to encourage participation in that process. We’ve also started discussing the possibility of spring semester antigen testing with a provider. Today, a fall semester announcement will be issued. Plans for the spring semester will be communicated to the campus next Monday or Tuesday.
October 19, Update—Today we reviewed patterns of infection and brainstormed what we are learning from our data—and how we can make the campus aware of more significant risks, should those communications ever become necessary. In the next day, President Blomberg will send a communication about-Thanksgiving and other details related to the fall semester. The dashboard was updated this weekend to show the two new, unique positive results from last week. We reviewed our travel policy and quarantine strategy, and we briefly discussed the possible availability of antigen testing during the spring semester.
October 16, Update - All test results have been shared and we have two new, unique positives. Contact tracing has already been activated. This week’s flu clinic operated smoothly and CVS proved to be a good partner. We spoke with representatives from the 2021 commencement planning committee, who presented two options to honor both the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 in mid-May. Intentions are to share plans with the campus the week of October 26. We also spoke about the utilizations of quarantine and isolation spaces post-Thanksgiving.
October 15, Update—There was one positive from Tuesday night’s batch of results. Overall, 1,248 tests were conducted this week. We also conducted over 300 flu shots at our clinic through the end of Tuesday. Today the task force revisited general policies around freelancers and contractors visiting campus. We spoke about how to support our students’ off-campus trip to vote in Collegeville on Election Day. The spring calendar was also discussed, as was the projected breakdown of in-person and remote instruction. We will meet with representatives from the Health Corps on Tuesday, and with reps from 2021 commencement planning tomorrow. Details from those meetings to come soon.
October 14, Update —There are zero new (unique) positives from Monday’s round of on-site tests. We are presenting final spring calendar plans in several faculty meetings today, the only recommended change being a distributed spring break model. Faculty are now finalizing their class schedules for the spring, indicating whether they’ll be teaching remote or in-person. Final details to come soon. On Monday, we will officially announce our plan for the remainder of the fall semester. We may be meeting with representatives from the Health Corps soon and will also be meeting with reps from the 2021 commencement planning committee later this week. Last, we confirmed the general public is still not permitted to visit the café in the Schellhase Commons.
October 13, Update - - Yesterday’s flu shot clinic went well and attendance was good, as again was the case with our on-campus testing. We are close to announcing plans for the spring academic calendar. We talked about our ongoing contract with the Broad Institute and CIC-Health as well as the prospects of adopting antigen testing as part of our overall testing strategy. Campus visits continue to be strong and we are working closely with enrollment to continue hosting admission visitors this fall in a responsible and safe manner. We have been fielding requests from other liberal arts colleges for information about our testing operation and have been responding to those inquiries.
October 12, Update --The task force continued discussing considerations for guidelines for gatherings of student groups (such as teams and clubs) in light of updated state guidelines and are looking at maximum occupancy of current spaces in order to advise best practices.
October 9, Update —There are zero new positives this week. Todd McKinney joined the task force to discuss student activities and this semester’s residential experience. While the college continues to enhance virtual activities and on-campus programming, student feedback calls for more traditional social activities and registered events. Student affairs spoke about finding a responsible balance and its impact on future campus culture. We also spoke about some positive student feedback regarding the truncated process for “New Member Education.” We talked about different options for spring semester sports and the unknowns concerning Centennial Conference athletics. The task force started a discussion about group gatherings (both on- and off-campus) and how we can consistently approach that matter, given the evolving state recommendations.
October 8—There are zero new positives through two days of testing results. The final 382 samples were shipped yesterday. Our partnership with the Broad Institute and CIC-Health has progressed really well. We spoke with faculty council again about possible challenges we’d face should we return to campus post-Thanksgiving. We also started a conversation about the current remote work policy for staff and how that may continue through the end of the calendar year. That led to some discussion about our employees’ general wellbeing and mental health. We’ve made progress on fine-tuning options for the spring calendar, informed by recent discussions with faculty and other internal audiences. And we plan to begin evaluating our isolation and quarantine residences.
October 7, Update —There were zero positive results out of the 408 tests we conducted on campus this Monday. The link to the newly amended guidelines on “safe gathering limits” by the state can be found here. We had a good conversation with the extended task force about post-Thanksgiving activity and an early CIE spring block, considering both potential costs with the overall student experience. More details to come, but faculty are invited to preview spring calendar options on Canvas beginning today. We spoke of outside intramural sport activity and will be talking with Todd McKinney next week about how that is coming along.
October 6, Update —Today, the commonwealth will announce changes to its indoor and outdoor occupancy limits for non-curricular activities. We will share a link to that news in tomorrow’s update. A communication about next week’s flu shot clinic will be sent to campus members today. We discussed challenging national trends facing fall enrollment and applications. We updated one another on potential outdoor changes necessary to address the colder weather in November and December. he extended task force meets today; the priority of that meeting is to collect feedback on the spring calendar options.
October 5, Update — The Task Force spoke about communications and how to best update the campus community on our progress to date. We are preparing for an extended taskforce meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. We have one new (unique) positive last week and the dashboard has been updated to reflect last week’s data. The Wellness Center will begin aggressively promoting next week’s flu shot clinic, on campus from October 12-14. Faculty and staff will have dedicated clinic times from 4 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. those afternoons. We are in discussions with the Broad Institute about extending our contract. We continue to speak with specific internal audiences about the spring calendar and will be posting those options to Canvas for broader consumption soon.
October 2, Update — Final results from the week: one new (unique) positive total for the week’s results. We will update the dashboard on Saturday with final numbers. The college will host our first flu clinic on campus from October 12-14, and it is our expectation that all faculty, staff and students on campus will participate in that program. An announcement will be coming soon about that. We are also reviewing the updated guidelines for colleges that CDC issued on September 30. We spoke with the new faculty council about spring academic calendar options and will continue to present the options to other internal audiences over the coming days. These possibilities include early start dates, a later semester conclusion and potential changes to spring break. Last, we reviewed requests for PPE supplies and other related issues.
October 1, Update —We conducted 1,230 tests this week. Though we are waiting for results, we received news of one new positive so far. We continue to look into possible antigen testing as another longer-term option for the campus community, along with additional support to efficiently manage that process. We continued discussions about the spring academic calendar. Last, the task force talked about updating plans should we need to close campus because of a rise in positive cases, which will be shared with both the commonwealth and the county soon.
September 30, Update - This is the seventh week of testing. Monday’s results arrived with no new positive cases. Members of facilities, as well as staff members who are involved in the testing operation, are also being tested on-site this week. We looked at possibly expediting testing just prior to Thanksgiving break. The task force also began detailed discussions about different academic calendar options for the spring, including several scenarios for move-in. The implications on MLK Week were also discussed. We will begin soliciting feedback in the coming days.
September 29, Update —Today is the second day of testing this week. Yesterday’s testing in the field house went very well. We will be updating signage at entrance ways to more clearly communicate that campus is closed to visitors until further notice. We continue to explore different options for the spring academic calendar, which will be presented for feedback on Canvas at a later time. We spoke about how challenging the college search process is for high school seniors, and how admission continues to engage with school counselors about the college’s plans. And we continue to look at ways to enhance our dashboard. We continue with plans to coordinate the on-campus flu shot “clinic.”
September 28, Update —The college remains in the “old gold” phase. Over the weekend, we reported good results: zero new, or unique, positives out of the 1,160 results. No one remains in isolation. Beginning next week, daily tests will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. We have a few extra tests and may begin offering them on a first-come, first-served basis to a pre-defined list of employees who remain in frequent contact with students and campus visitors. More details to come. We will engage the expanded task force as well as the new faculty council on discussions about the spring academic calendar. We spoke about the mental health of our students and how we can support them as we progress through the fall semester.
September 25, Update —All of this week’s test results are back. We have zero new positives out of 1,160 test results. We continue to streamline the process and communication between case managers and contact tracers. Basic intramural activity—cornhole tournaments, for example—may begin Oct. 12, and athletic practices are proceeding well. Athletic Director Laura Moliken continues to meet regularly with counterparts from across the conference. At yesterday’s trustee business meeting, we provided key updates related to our COVID-19 response. We continue to consider seasonal weather and its impact on outdoor classroom spaces. We are also evaluating student flow in Wismer and working with dining services on plans for the future.
September 23, Update —All results from Monday’s 360 tests, now conducted by the Broad Institute, were negative. We are awaiting results from the 434 tests taken yesterday. CIC-Health has been responsive and has helped us successfully implement our new internally coordinated testing operation. Today we also spoke about more definitive and consistent timelines for isolation, quarantine and general contact tracing. We are looking into the details of Pennsylvania’s new contact tracing app—COVID Alert PA—which lets you know if you have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. That app can now be downloaded for free.
September 22, Update —We had 370 students tested yesterday—the first day of the new testing procedure in the field house—and the process went well. It was decided that students in on-campus quarantine who are asymptomatic should continue testing in the field house at their regular times. We spoke about re-engaging the different task force tiers as we look towards longer-term planning. Students are still approved to use external food delivery services if they wish. And we are looking at ways to enhance the dashboard.
September 21, Update —Today begins the new procedures for on-campus tests, students who have not scheduled a weekly test for the rest of the semester should proceed to the field house during testing 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. to receive this week’s test and set a regular time. The dashboard is updated with the results from last week. Of 1,165 tests there were Seven positive results.
September 18, Update —Of 792 results to date from this week’s on-campus tests, there are six new positives. Contact tracing, as usual, is being activated. We are conducting a dry run this morning as final preparation for the change in on-site testing that will occur on Monday. The Health Corps will help further promote adoption of the self-assessment tool in MobileU, and we encourage all faculty and staff to use the app daily to monitor their wellbeing. Last, Upper Wismer will be open for in-house seating beginning this Sunday with an expanded menu. The automated counter system for analyzing traffic in Upper Wismer is just about complete.
September 17, Update—We conducted 1,204 on-campus tests this week. Final results should arrive within the next two business days. We are in a very good position to make the transition to our new testing partners next week. A significant majority of students have reserved a testing time slot for the rest of the semester, and the weekly online scheduler is no longer available. We are creating an “express test pass” for students who have visited Wellness Center with possible symptoms to expedite their on-site visit. The task force also discussed the beginnings of a “pivot to remote learning plan” should it ever become necessary.
September 16, Update - Today is the final testing day of the week which will see nearly 1,200 total tests conducted in the field house. We are reminding the community that students are always expected to have their Ursinus ID while on campus and must have their ID when visiting the field house for tests. The task force analytics team has begun looking into statistics and early transmission rates for both resident and commuter students. We also previewed upcoming athletic practices and the process around testing, particularly for those student-athletes who are commuter or remote learners. Currently, seven case managers are actively overseeing our quarantine process, and we continue to find ways to upgrade the experience of those living in on-campus quarantine. The Health Corps is interested in providing additional support. Last, the task force has begun to consider longer-term options for both testing and for the spring semester—though any discussions are very preliminary at this point.
September 15, Update - Today is the second of three testing days this week. Yesterday, 370 tests were completed and there are another 436 scheduled for today. We are finalizing a few changes to next week’s on-site testing operation to make the transition from Impact Health, to our in-house managers, as seamless as possible. Today at 2 p.m. the BLT for faculty and staff will discuss these changes. (Sign up here.) We are expecting five students to return from quarantine today. The task force is making progress on an on-campus flu shot clinic later this semester. Last, Ursinus continues to be involved in weekly AICUP-sponsored conference calls about possible advice on “return home” procedures should they ever become necessary this semester.
September 14, Update —Testing has begun this week and will occur through Wednesday, This Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, model will be the regular schedule for the remainder of the semester. We updated the dashboard to reflect five new positive tests (all in off-campus isolation) and a total of 22 students in quarantine. We spoke about upcoming changes that will enhance the testing operation, which will be communicated to campus later this week. We are putting up signage in the Commons lobby to ensure campus visitors for admission feel welcome. And faculty and staff are invited to participate in Tuesday’s BLT (check the faculty/staff page later today for topic information).
September 11, Update - Sodexo confirmed that “grab-and-go” dining will continue through next week, with the hope to move to indoor seating next weekend. We are putting up additional signage in Wismer to reinforce physical distancing and safety measures; Health Corps may help communicate those guidelines. We met again with the county office of public health about testing and decisions around isolation periods. They recommend all faculty set 15-minute timers when engaging closely (around 6 feet) with students and were complimentary of our current process. We were among many colleges to meet with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) to begin a discussion about what should happen if colleges need to go fully remote. We also spoke about doing a better job of acknowledging students who are commuting or learning remotely as part of our campus community.
September 10, Update - Today is the final day of on-campus testing for the week. The task force spoke about physical distancing issues in and around Wismer, and how we can better work with Sodexo to continue implementing those requirements. We also spoke about increasing student vigilance in following student guidelines in the evening and “off-hours.” We are putting up more policy and safety reminder signage around gateways and main access points to athletic fields. We are speaking this afternoon with a representative from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health to discuss how things are proceeding on campus. Students who are commuting are reminded that they need to participate in weekly testing to continue coming to campus. We continue to look at how to best provide on-campus flu shots this fall. Last, we issued an update on faculty and staff testing guidelines yesterday, and updated the Bears Return pages to reflect that news.
September 9, Update - On Tuesday, we completed 458 tests. Only seven students missed their appointment times. Beginning next week, we are strongly encouraging students to use the online schedule to “lock in” a weekly time slot for the remainder of the semester. In response to questions about quarantining, it is important to note we continue to support and to promote the county’s policy. We currently have five case managers led by Katie Turek who are working with the county and leading those efforts on campus. A reminder that masks are required in the fitness center, even when physically distanced. And we are working towards an on-campus option for flu shots; we plan to make those shots a requirement and will communicate more details soon.
September 7, Update —Today the task force updated the dashboard to reflect two new positive cases (now in off-campus isolation) and seven contacts now in quarantine. We spoke of the process for this weekend’s check-in. Returning students are adjusting to expectations and have all been made aware of the student guidelines updated last Friday. We are also updating the COVID testing guidelines for faculty and staff, specifically around the specifics of student interaction. We continue to work closely with the county department of health to clarify more details around isolation and quarantine protocols. This week’s on-campus testing will occur Tuesday through Thursday. Last, the new self-assessment tool found in MobileU’s “safety and emergencies” section goes live this afternoon.
September 3, Update — Today the task force confirmed one positive result thus far from 272 tests conducted on Tuesday. Wednesday’s results should be arriving soon. Contact tracing has been effectively activated and is still in progress. We are updating the dashboard to now include the number of staff and faculty who may be identified as contacts or who may need to quarantine. The online sign-in for next week’s on-campus testing, which is expanded to Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday, is now open and available to students. The new daily self-assessment feature in “Mobile U” is now in final testing and should be officially rolled out later next week. To date, the Wellness Center has collected more than 660 pre-arrival tests from returning students with only one confirmed positive case. Last, all offices should have received “welcome back kits” and, in designated areas of each building, no-touch thermometers. Additional information will be provided soon in upcoming HR-related communications.
September 2, Update— The task force continues to work with Collegeville leaders to discourage borough neighbors from visiting campus while in the Old Gold phase. Yesterday’s testing operation went relatively well, all available time slots were filled with very few missed appointments. Today, it is likely that 12 of the 13 students in on-campus quarantine will return to their rooms, while one of the two off-campus students in isolation may return to campus as well. To date, the Wellness Center has received 590 pre-arrival tests for returning upperclass students, and we will continue to collect those results through Sunday. The BLT for faculty and staff at 1 p.m. today will provide updates on dining services, support for commuting students, testing and other key topics. On an important final note, we are still in need of significant support for move-in this week, especially on Sunday. All faculty and staff are encouraged to volunteer. Sign up is at this link!
August 31, Update —There were no new positive results from last week’s testing. We are reviewing final options to expand the on-site testing operation to most effectively accommodate all returning students. We will continue to communicate information regarding the dashboard, which has been updated and is live. Important reminders and announcements about the upcoming move-in/check-in process will be sent later this afternoon. (Also note that student affairs is asking for additional volunteers to assist during move-in later this week.) We are fine-tuning the communications of the protocols and expectation of students in quarantine. Human resources is gathering more details around employee testing and what is covered through insurance. Stay tuned for more information on that for faculty and staff.
August 28, Update —To date we have received 252 results from this week’s tests with no positives. (We are awaiting results from nearly 200 more.) The final numbers will be reflected in the updated dashboard on Monday. We are meeting with dining services to review a few different, newer options for when all students return, with the goal of relieving pressure on Upper Wismer. We spoke again of refining the quarantine process and will be asking those students who quarantining off campus to get tested around the 10-days mark. We’ve established a contact tracing phone bank in Pfahler to facilitate that process. Students will be again reminded that only current residents are permitted within residence halls. And we are preparing a communication to returning sophomore, junior and senior students once again reminding them that pre-arrival testing is required, without exception.
August 27, Update —After the second week of testing, we estimate that nearly 440 tests were conducted on-campus. When available, the results will be shared on the dashboard. Our thanks to staff members Sam Harvey and Laura Cunningham who volunteered to support Katie Turek as internal case managers. We will be updating the dashboard to include a description of the timing and process for communicating results. The next campus communication on Monday, will clearly outline this process. We discussed dining services and ensuring students remain physically distanced when around—and in—Wismer. The bookstore is reminding students they must order all textbooks online through its website now, in order to have them in hand when the full semester begins. Last, we spoke about athletic / recreational activity around campus during the “old gold” phase. We considered our approach those activities that may break with physical distancing guidelines, while also supporting the mental and physical health of the students.
August 25, Update - The task force discussed our participation with Collegeville’s Business Development Committee and our communications with the community about the public avoiding campus. The process for escorting students into quarantine and isolation was reviewed and updated. The college has hired temporary staff—previous students—to support our COVID planning and processes and are looking at additional internal case managers to support Katie Turek. The contact tracing program is under the official direction of the county’s Department of Health and the task force continues to work in support of the county for the implementation. Today’s begins another round of testing and the online scheduler, which was re-activated last Friday night, continues to be helpful. A recap of these past few days will be provided for faculty and staff at tomorrow’s BLT session at 1 p.m.
August 21, Update - Today the task force was made aware of the first two positive results coming from this week’s on-campus testing. Both students have returned home for their isolation period. Three additional students have been quarantined, one of whom remains on campus for quarantine. We anticipated we would have positive results early this semester and campus partners have quickly come together to address the issue. Contact tracing has been activated. Quarantine guidelines are finalized and are being shared with students. While we are closely following our plans, this is an important reminder for each of us “Defend the Den.” A communication update, including a short video message from Mark Schneider, will be shared early this afternoon through social media channels and the Bears Return pages.
August 20, Update - We received the results of the approximately 200 tests conducted on campus this Tuesday, and there were zero positives. In total, we’ve conducted about 450 tests covering both days. The scheduling app and the process has gone smooth to date. New signage will appear early next week at all entranceways, asking visitors to remain off campus during the “old gold” phase. A reminder for everyone that masks MUST be worn in all public areas, including outdoors. The task force also spoke about cleaning services, the finalization of the quarantine plan and the self-assessment questionnaire that will be available in MobileU within the next 7-10 days.
August 18, Update -With first-years arriving, we walked through plans about this testing operation beginning today 11:00. We walked through the latest isolation and quarantine guidelines and will be posting those to the Bears Return page soon. We welcome Katie Turek from UCARE, who will play an important role in coordinating activity and communications between impacted students and relevant parties across campus. And we walked through procedures for those incoming students who may need to quarantine because they haven’t yet received their test results. Please join us on Wed at 1:00 for our next BLT!
August 13, Update - The task force recently met with LIT to discuss progress on several key technology projects, including updates to self-monitoring in MobileU, occupancy counts in Wismer to manage traffic and physical distancing, and online scheduling for the weekly student tests. We also spoke about using Myrin for dedicated spaces for virtual learning and for commuter students. We held conversations with Collegeville leadership about vocalizing support for one another. We are moving forward with plans for our internal case manager and discussed final details regarding our partnerships with an external test lab and on-site testing administrators. Our final testing process will be communicated to the campus community within a day or two.
August 11, Update– The task force met with LIT to discuss all ongoing technology projects, including updates to self-monitoring in MobileU, occupancy counts in Wismer to manage traffic and physical distancing, and online scheduling for the weekly student tests. We also spoke about using Myrin for dedicated spaces for virtual learning and for commuter students. We’re moving forward with plans for our internal case manager and discussed final details regarding our partnerships with an external test lab and on-site testing administrators. We all have changed the location of the first series of first-year student tests to the FLB gym from the fieldhouse, in order to accommodate registration.
August 6, Update —The task force recently discussed the successes of the admission office and continues to fine tune health and safety guidelines as we transition to the start of the semester and welcoming students back to campus. It reviewed the modeling information that Dean Schneider has been managing and presented at the August 5 BLT.
August 4, Update – The task force worked on the faculty and staff testing procedures, upcoming communications including those to faculty and staff about the returning to work, and the planning of ongoing health and safety training for the community.
July 27, Update – The task force is in final discussions with potential testing partners, and the resulting process for pre-semester and in-semester testing procedures will likely be communicated in the next few days. We are looking at personnel who can manage the scheduling, coordination and overall internal logistics of the process. We will also finalize the official faculty/staff “return-to-work” guidelines in the coming days and post them to the Bears Return page.
July 24, Update – The task force took steps towards an updated color alert system. It will accompany a new dashboard that will indicate progress on several key measures including testing results. We are meeting again this afternoon with medical firms on testing procedures and logistics. The task force also reviewed a comprehensive extra-curricular / student activity plan that focuses on the students’ on-campus residential experience. We also provided final edits to our employee return-to-work guidelines document.
July 22, Update – We spoke about the process around testing and having internal “case managers” help coordinate and organize this important function. The college is speaking with vendors and other partners about how they intend to regularly test their employees as well. We have decided to postpone Thursday’s athletics town hall until we receive further guidance from the NCAA, and we have begun finalizing a self-isolation process for those students coming from “hotspots.”
July 20, Update - We’ve had a very good response rate on the student questionnaire we sent last week, asking for their housing and learning intentions. We also are in new conversations with several potential partners on testing, in addition to Quest and LabCorp, so that we may routinely and quickly conduct testing throughout the semester. Last, we are preparing for 3 important sessions: this week’s BLT, and the upcoming athletics and student affairs virtual town halls.
July 17, Update - The task force is close of detailing a comprehensive approach to manage testing of students, faculty and staff this semester. We are reviewing Governor Wolf’s new mitigation order that began July 15, and are studying any new implications for our campus. A student survey on housing and remote learning intentions was sent this morning, and other communications–including a new series of re-envisioned weekly BLTs–will roll-out next week. Last, we continue to address, as quickly as possible, dozens of questions submitted each week and post new and updated answers on the Bears Return pages.
July 16, Update - The Task Force continues to review questions surrounding reopening this fall and discussed the process for students choosing a remote option and how that information will be communicated.
July 13, Update - The Task Force continues to discuss testing and is preparing its final health and safety guidelines document. It has also discussed the requests for use of our facilities, as well as recent state Department of Health quarantine recommendations.
July 10, Update - The Task Force continues to review testing options and is also working on a guidance document for faculty and staff parallel to the recently released one for students. They were joined by theater, dance and music faculty to discuss class and performance spaces for the fall semester. Two town halls were held this week for students and their families. Over the next few days, the FAQ pages are being updated with answers to many of the questions and the recordings will be posted to the web next week.
July 7, Update - Task Force Update -Preparations are being made for town halls this week for new and returning students, and a draft of student guidelines was shared with families in an email sent on July 6.
June 22, Update – At 12:30 p.m. today, President Blomberg shared an update regarding the upcoming fiscal year. Please check your email for this important message.
June 19, Update – The college will announce decisions about our new fiscal year budget on Monday, June 22, followed by an email that shares our fall semester re-opening plans on Wednesday, June 24. We are fine-tuning the Ursinus-specific “phases” that provide additional clarity around our guidelines, particularly those for visitors and external audiences. We are moving quickly to implement a streamlined testing process.
June 18, Update – Plans regarding the college’s re-opening were shared with trustees at yesterday’s business meeting. That announcement, along with anticipated budgetary changes for FY21, are being finalized. A new COVID-19 landing page has been created to share audience-specific information, including re-opening guidelines. Student Affairs continues to make progress with “move-in,” and we continue to work towards a comprehensive testing plan for all campus members that kicks-in prior to their official return to Ursinus.
June 17, Update – The taskforce is working on two key communications for the next few days: plans for the college’s re-opening and anticipated institutional changes for FY21 as a result of the pandemic. Student Affairs has drafted a comprehensive “move-in” plan for students that will be communicated begin in early July. We are fine-tuning a process that allows all students, faculty and staff to be tested prior to their arrival on campus. We are investigating ways to install outdoor tents for academic and co-curricular activities. And we are working with Olympus on expanded clearing and janitorial plans.
June 10, Update – The taskforce is collecting final feedback from faculty about potential options for the fall semester. We also spoke staffing and preparing the Wellness Center as effectively as possible for the fall. We continue to investigate proposals from Quest and LabCorp about testing. We are working with facilities on an inventory of our buildings to promote social distancing measures. And we thank Collegeville Mayor Aidsand Wright-Riggings for his video messaging promoting LIVE! on Main, our new virtual event series!
June 8, Update – The taskforce is making progress on return-to-work guidelines for faculty, staff and students. Those guidelines will live on a webpage and as documents. A preliminary “phased” approach for the re-opening has been drafted that outlines key dates and addresses important questions. We discussed the different measures that facilities may undertake in buildings to promote social distancing. Last, a series of questions is being sent to Montgomery County colleges to encourage discussion and offer “best practices” in the region. June 5 Update – As the country transitions to the “yellow phase,” most Ursinus employees are asked to continue to work remotely. We continue to make progress on the re-opening strategy, which aligns closely with June 3’s preliminary re-opening guidelines announced by the PA Department of Education. We reviewed ongoing cleaning operations, ideas around a travel policy and upcoming communications.