Dear Marshall students, faculty and staff,
I am writing today to welcome everyone back for the fall semester, which officially begins next Monday, Aug. 23, and to let you know what to expect at Marshall related to COVID-19.
It is wonderful to return to near-normal on campus for the first time in 18 months! This morning, I visited the residence halls for freshman move-in and was thrilled to see so many happy and excited faces in spite of the rainy weather. We are looking forward to a successful Week of Welcome to help our first-year students get accustomed to Marshall before the semester starts.
This evening, I will be hosting the annual faculty picnic at the President’s House. This is one of my favorite events and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
I want to share the most recent information about our COVID-19 plans and protocols. These policies and procedures include intensive and structured safety and health elements to guide us through the fall semester. The Return-to-Campus Plan and Student Return-to-Campus Information have been updated for the fall 2021 semester and include the specifics of our strategy.
Our COVID-19 plans have evolved as the vaccines have become widely available and more information about the virus is learned. We will continue to operate with the most up-to-date health and safety recommendations from state and local public health experts and our medical school. Below, you will find a brief synopsis of some of the areas of emphasis and accommodations for COVID-19. Details, including a robust FAQs section and Marshall vaccination and testing data, are available on the university’s coronavirus website.
The following guidelines will be in place at the beginning of the semester and may be modified—either strengthened or loosened—as circumstances change:
VACCINATIONS: Marshall University is not requiring vaccinations; however, every member of the university community is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. We will be offering vaccination clinics on campus throughout the semester. Regardless of vaccination status, all students taking on-campus classes this fall and all employees are required to complete the online Vaccination Registry, which is being used to help university health and safety officials project future herd immunity among our campus community.
MASKS: Regardless of vaccination status, masks are required inside all university buildings, including during class and when out of personal residence hall rooms and workspaces. Instructors can choose to teach either while wearing a mask/face shield or while standing behind the plexiglass barrier in the classroom.
TESTING: We are testing all unvaccinated on-campus students and employees at the start of the semester, and will be doing weekly surveillance testing of these populations throughout the term. Walk-up testing will remain available this semester. Our goal is to test every unvaccinated person and those of un-disclosed status once a week.
STUDENT AGREEMENT: All students must sign the Fall 2021 Return-to-Campus Student Agreement to indicate they will comply with public health expectations and all policies and guidelines. Student conduct guidelines regarding these issues will be strictly enforced.
CASE MANAGEMENT: Strict protocols are in place for case management, quarantine/self-isolation and contact tracing of all COVID-19 cases at Marshall. If you are exposed, you will not be required to quarantine if you have been fully vaccinated and show no symptoms.
CLASSROOMS: Classes this fall are returning to full capacity and a normal schedule, with most classes delivered in person in a face-to-face format.
RESIDENCE HALLS: All the university’s residence halls are open for the fall 2021 semester, and hall residents will be permitted to sign guests into the residence halls.
DINING HALLS: Seating in the dining halls also has returned to full capacity and dining is returning to normal operations in all venues. Tables are cleaned and sanitized after each use.
CLEANING: Cleaning and disinfection of facilities is being done following protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using Environmental Protection Agency-approved products effective against the COVID-19 virus. Students and employees have access to disposable sanitizing wipes located in hallways to disinfect chairs and workspaces. Hand sanitizing stations are located at key areas in all campus buildings.
As your president, my top priority remains the health and safety of everyone on our campus and we will do so by mitigating as much risk as possible. I remain committed to a learning and working environment that allows our students, faculty and staff to feel secure. The COVID-19 situation is still very fluid and, depending on what happens in our region, we may have to make decisions about aspects of university life very quickly. I pledge that the university’s senior team and I will communicate any changes to you as quickly and efficiently as possible.
By working together, our Marshall Family can get through this semester safely and enjoy our time together.
Stay safe and healthy.
Jerome A. Gilbert, Ph.D.