From President Gilbert: What to expect for the spring semester regarding COVID-19

Photograph of Marshall University President Jerome A. GilbertDear Marshall students, faculty and staff,

We had an extraordinarily successful return to “near normal” this fall and I appreciate everything our university community did to help us all stay safe and healthy.

As we have finished the fall semester, I wanted to let everyone know what you can expect in the way of COVID-19 protocols for the spring. For students, we have a special “quick start” page for you with all the information you need to start the spring semester.

We have updated the Return-to-Campus Plan and Student Return-to-Campus Information for the spring 2022 semester. As you will see, our COVID-19 plans have evolved as the vaccines and booster shots have become widely available and more information about the virus 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 in January and may be modified—either strengthened or loosened—as circumstances change:

VACCINATIONS:  Marshall University does not require vaccinations; however, every member of the university community is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and to receive a booster when due. The university will be offering vaccination clinics on campus throughout the spring 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 herd immunity among our campus community.

MASKS:  Regardless of vaccination status, masks will be 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:  Marshall will be testing all residence hall students as they move in at the start of the semester, and will be doing weekly surveillance testing of unvaccinated students and employees, as well as of those who have elected not to disclose their status. The goal is to test every unvaccinated person and those of undisclosed status once a week. Walk-up testing will remain available for the spring semester.

STUDENT AGREEMENT:  Before the start of the spring semester, all students must sign the 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 remain 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 will remain at 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 will be open for the spring 2021 semester. Appointments for check-in when you arrive for the semester may be made online. Hall residents will be permitted to sign guests into the residence halls.

DINING HALLS:  Seating in the dining halls will remain at full capacity and dining has 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 will continue to 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.

The health and safety of everyone on our campus remains Marshall University’s top priority and we will accomplish this goal by continuing to mitigate as much risk as possible. We remain committed to a learning and working environment that allows our students, faculty and staff to feel secure.

The COVID-19 situation is still quite fluid and, depending on what happens in our region, decisions to change aspects of university life may be made. The university’s senior team will continue to communicate any changes to you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,
Jerome A. Gilbert, Ph.D.
President