|TO:||Gonzaga Students and Families|
|FROM:||Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President|
|SUBJ:||Message to All Students and Families Regarding Booster and Testing Requirement|
|DATE:||January 7, 2022|
As we come to the conclusion of the semester break, I hope that you all had a restful holiday and the opportunity to spend time with friends and loved ones. I am writing today with additional information regarding our return to campus for Spring 2022.
As we prepare for your return, I want to express my gratitude once again for your dedication to keeping yourselves and others safe this past fall. Our 94% vaccination rate – coupled with wearing masks indoors, ongoing testing, and isolation and self-quarantine – played a critical role in being able to safely resume in-person courses and activities this past Fall. However, by late fall we began to see evidence that vaccine efficacy was waning and began encouraging everyone to get a vaccine booster.
The emergence of the omicron variant has brought increasing rates of COVID-19, even among those who are vaccinated. Therefore, our safety precautions for this spring will look very similar to fall: masks will be required indoors in congregate settings, students’ vaccine statuses must continue to be updated, and quarantine and isolation protocols as well as requirements for events and visitors will remain in place.
On December 30th, I sent a communication with two new requirements for our campus community: (1) First, we are asking that all eligible students, staff and faculty obtain a COVID-19 booster; (2) Second, if possible, we ask that students take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to your return to campus. We understand that in some jurisdictions, it is challenging to obtain a booster and/or a test; our focus is in doing everything possible to support every member of our community in mitigating viral infection and severe illness. Please see specifics regarding boosters and testing in the sections below. I thank you in advance for your willingness to take these critically important steps towards preserving the health and safety of our Gonzaga community.
In advance of the start of spring semester, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need. Here is a checklist of the 6 things to do before returning this spring:
- Visit the Zag On Website: The Zag On website has updated resources and information about processes and requirements. Many of these requirements are specific to students living on campus; however, we ask that all students, no matter your place of residence or academic level, be aware of and adhere to these requirements.
- Get your booster: Many colleges and universities have adopted a requirement that members of their campus communities keep their vaccination status current by seeking a COVID-19 booster. Gonzaga also asks that all eligible students, staff, and faculty receive COVID-19 booster shots within 14 days of becoming eligible. We strongly recommend that you receive your booster shot before returning to campus; however, campus booster clinics are planned for January – March for students not eligible or who cannot obtain a booster shot. Visit the State Department of Health (DOH) website to determine your timeline for eligibility. If you have received an approved exemption from COVID-19 vaccination for medical or religious purposes, you should have already submitted a verified exemption form and may be required to complete additional COVID-19 testing. For helpful information relating to vaccines, boosters, and exemptions, please visit the student vaccine portal, Medicat. Learn more about the COVID-19 booster and eligibility.
- Upload your updated vaccination status to Medicat by January 21: By January 21st, 2022 please update your Medicat status by providing your booster information, including a photo of your CDC Card and the date of the booster, or a medical/religious exemption signed by you and your healthcare provider. It is imperative that you do this.
- Obtain a negative test before coming to campus: We ask that all students, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, boosted or not boosted, test for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their first visit to campus for spring semester. We recognize that it may be difficult to obtain a test, but we ask that you make every effort possible to try to find a testing opportunity in your area prior to your return (note: at-home tests are acceptable).
Do not return to campus if you are symptomatic or have been exposed and have not completed quarantine. If your test comes back positive, please remain at home until the end of your isolation period. If you are positive, please reach out to your professors directly and you will be given instructions for how to start the semester.
We will not be requiring you to submit your test results but strongly ask that you take this critical step towards protecting your health and the health of others before the start of the semester.
- Check ZagWeb for final class modality plans: At this time, we are not planning to delay the start of the semester; however, some faculty may begin their classes remotely (via Zoom) through January 21st. Please check your class listings on ZagWeb to determine if any of your in-person classes are affected.
- Take care of yourself and others: It takes all of us working together to practice behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID. Wear a mask any time you are out of your private space, continue to wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with those who are sick, and disinfect common spaces before and after you use them.
For any other questions, please contact or leave a message on our COVID-19 Hotline at 509-313-7070. We are looking forward to beginning the new year, and the new semester, together. See you soon!