Dear Members of the Bentley Community,
Thanks for continuing to do your part to keep our community healthy and safe as we adapt and learn more about the best practices for operating our campus at full capacity. I’ve heard from many of you how much you’re enjoying this semester and the many opportunities to interact with your colleagues and students. This more normal semester is in large part due to having a highly vaccinated community. To start your week off, I wanted to share some helpful updates and new guidelines as we look ahead to the fall semester in full swing.
Screening Testing on Campus
At the start of the term, we announced that all undergraduate and residential students, regardless of vaccination status, would be required to test each week until at least the end of September as part of our campus ease-in period. As some positive cases have continued to be identified, screening testing will be extended through the month of October for all undergraduate and residential students.
Beginning this week, we are able to begin offering a voluntary weekly screening test for faculty who are teaching this semester and frontline staff whose role requires frequent in-person interaction with students or people outside the Bentley community, or who travel for work. Staff should check with their managers if they have questions about eligibility for this voluntary screening testing. This testing program will operate in the lobby of Adamian. Appointments should be made using the Bentley Health Portal and should be scheduled no more than once per week.
It is extremely important that you remember not to come to the screening test center if you are sick or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. As always, we will continue to evaluate the screening testing program requirements for students as we track campus positivity rates through the month of October.
I know some may be asking why testing (and masking) is still required in our highly vaccinated campus community. In June, I watched regional case rates plummet and was excited at the prospect of returning to a more normal fall semester. But since this summer, the delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain of the virus across the country and in Massachusetts (more than 98% of cases). While vaccines are still substantially protective against severe illness, the highly transmissible nature of the delta variant makes it necessary to return to certain mitigation measures on campus. The quicker we identify positive cases of COVID-19, the better chance we have at preventing uncontrolled spread within our community. Keeping our campus together this fall is a top priority, and regular testing and masking will play a major role in doing just that.
Isolation and Quarantine
As a reminder, people who test positive for COVID-19 are required to enter isolation housing or stay home for approximately 10 days. Anyone identified as a close contact of a positive case is only required to enter quarantine if they are unvaccinated (including those with a medical or religious exemption). Vaccinated contacts are not required to quarantine but should carefully self-monitor and get evaluated and tested immediately if experiencing any symptoms. Students in isolation or quarantine may, by arrangement with their faculty, attend classes remotely or complete other work to keep up with their classes.
With more faculty and staff on campus this fall compared to last year, it’s important that we all continue to be mindful of what isolation and quarantine means for ourselves. If you test positive for COVID-19 on campus or from an off-campus test, you should immediately notify your supervisor about the need to be absent from in-person work and contact our occupational health nurse Dan Battle at firstname.lastname@example.org. COVID-19 should be treated similar to other illnesses, and sick time should be used as you recover at home.
If a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19 but you are fully vaccinated and experiencing no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine and may come to campus. The most important thing that you can do is monitor your own symptoms every day and not come to campus if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how minor.
Face Covering Reminders
Face coverings continue to be required for students, faculty, staff and all visitors before entering academic buildings. With that said, we have all been in the situation where we’ve left home or entered a store and forgot our face covering. That same situation can come up for students, so please remember to gently remind them of the requirement in the classroom. Mistakes happen, and we should always be kind when reminding someone to mask up.
The best way to get someone to wear a face covering is to remind them of the policy by offering them a face covering. To assist with this process, academic coordinators have a supply of face coverings for faculty to access in the event that a student forgets to wear one. Faculty should check with their departments to confirm the process of collecting these supplies.
Staff should continue to wear face coverings in administrative buildings when not in a private office.
Flu Vaccination Clinics
The Health Center continues to host voluntary vaccination clinics on campus with upcoming opportunities on October 5 and 27 to get immunized against seasonal influenza. As the symptoms of COVID-19 so closely mirror other upper respiratory seasonal illnesses, it’s strongly recommended that people get their flu shot as an added measure of protection to help reduce the risk of flu. Clinics are open to students, faculty and staff, as well as members of your household. Make sure to schedule an appointment to prevent long wait times.
COVID Vaccination Rollout
We are tracking the developments at the FDA and CDC regarding a third “booster” dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for selected eligible populations. The CDC has affirmed that people are still considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after having received two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Jansen) vaccine); however, if you are in an eligible category by reason of age or moderate to severe immune compromise, you are encouraged to seek vaccination through your health care provider or a local pharmacy.
COVID-19 Testing Dashboard
Since August 22, 125 positive cases have been reported on the dashboard. With 13,005 total tests administered, that leaves us at a 0.98% positivity rate.
As always, you can find the latest health and safety guidelines, as well as an archive of these newsletters, on bentley.edu/backtobentley.
Until next time,
Geoffrey C. Bartlett, CEM
Director of Emergency Management