We are seeing an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 on campus this week. Most important, no one who has tested positive this semester at Wesleyan has been seriously ill. The cases we are seeing have been asymptomatic or mild — not surprising given that we are a vaccinated and boosted community. There are extremely low levels of infection among faculty and staff and no sign of spread in classrooms. Still, while the increased positivity is not cause for alarm, it is important that we stem the spread. As a precautionary measure, we are changing the current alert level to Yellow.
To the Wesleyan community,
We invite you to join us for a webinar Friday, January 14, titled Campus Update: Spring Semester 2022 Protocols. The webinar for staff and faculty will take place at 10 a.m. EST.The webinar for students and families will take place at noon EST. President Michael S. Roth and members of the University’s Pandemic Planning Committee will discuss the plans for the upcoming spring semester. There will also be time to answer your questions.
Given the rise in COVID-19 cases and predictions about the trajectory of the pandemic, Wesleyan will delay the beginning of spring semester classes until Thursday, January 27. Spring break will now be March 12–20.
Classes on Thursday, January 27 and Friday, January 28 will be held virtually before in-person classes resume on Monday, January 31. This will allow students to be tested for COVID-19 at Beckham Hall, and receive results, before they return to in-person learning. Housing will open beginning Thursday, January 27.
To the Wesleyan community,
Thanks to our high vaccination rates, mask mandates, and robust testing protocols, the Wesleyan campus community has consistently maintained COVID-19 positivity rates lower than our surrounding area. This remains the case, even as we have seen an increase in positive campus cases. Most importantly, since we have the protection of vaccinations, the COVID-19 cases we’ve had thus far have been asymptomatic or mild. Vaccine booster shots are now available, and they offer an important additional layer of protection.
As we prepare for the start of the next semester, we are mindful of the hopes and anxieties of students and their families. Vaccine distribution is finally picking up speed, promising better times ahead. On the other hand, the new variants of the virus seem to be more contagious, and this means we must be ever more vigilant about social distancing, mask wearing, frequent testing, contact tracing and supportive isolation.
I recently met with the presidents of the other NESCAC schools, and we have decided that given the current public health situation we cannot yet approve intercollegiate competition for this semester. Although it seems unlikely that we will have even a truncated season, we agreed to revisit the possibility of conference contests at the end of February. The NESCAC decision will come as a disappointment to many who have worked long and hard for the chance to compete, and I understand their frustration. Be that as it may, the fact that some athletes have asked about their spring seasons should not be an occasion for others to cast aspersions or crude stereotypes. The Wesleyan community is a place for all of us to pursue activities through which we develop as individuals and as members of groups or teams. Like so many Wesleyans, I would love to watch our athletes compete, as I would be delighted to see our musicians play and our actors perform. We all will have to wait until it is safe enough to do so.
It’s a new year, or so we’ve been told. The pandemic continues to rage, as does the intensity of focus on the baffling words and deeds of the former president. But it is a new year—there will be vaccines and concentrated efforts to address the recession, and here at Wesleyan we are preparing to welcome back students for the spring semester. Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country.
With the first month of the semester under our belts, I would like to pause to acknowledge the careful planning, creative problem-solving and exemplary adherence to safety protocols that have allowed us to be together this fall. This is a proud and happy moment for us all.
At the same time, it is a precarious moment. We understand that the pandemic is still with us and that the public health context can change at any time. We are also nearing the winter months, when more time indoors and flu season could pose additional threats. With these considerations in mind, we have made the following plans.
Dear campus community,
We are beginning to welcome new and returning students to campus—an event I am both excited for and nervous about. Our abiding concern is for health and safety as we enter this unprecedented semester, and it is critically important that we all do our part to keep one another safe.
Please take a moment to watch this short video, on our Reactivating Campus website, that reiterates some of our safety measures. I also encourage you to review the Code of Conduct for students, and the Community Agreement for employees. Each details the University’s policies and expectations for members of the Wesleyan community that must be adhered to as conditions of being on campus.
As our staff makes final preparations for students’ arrival to campus only two weeks from now, we look forward to the start of the semester with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Most of us have longed for the day when we can be together again on campus since we were abruptly forced apart by the pandemic last spring, yet the worsening public health conditions in much of the country are deeply troubling. Thankfully, Connecticut continues to fare well with decreasing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths—largely thanks to the continued diligence of our state’s residents in following the rules meant to keep the public safe.
Like the state, Wesleyan has its own set of rules and expectations that all students, faculty, and staff will be required to follow. We write today to remind you of these policies and practices, as well as to drive home how serious we will be about enforcing them.
We write today with an update on the University’s financial position and the steps being taken to preserve fiscal stability and capacity in the pandemic environment.