Dear Members of the University Community,
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal has always been two-fold: keep our University community safe, and bring our community back together. We have successfully kept our community safe, and for most of last semester, we also achieved a complete return to residential life on campus.
In the past weeks, the Omicron variant has spread quickly throughout the DMV and the nation. While many studies are reporting that the new variant is weaker than previous strains, the sheer number of cases in the District is concerning. We have to take the threat of Omicron seriously, but we must do so in a way that also balances the importance of in-person learning and residential life for our students.
This is what we plan for addressing the Omicron variant this spring.
Classes will start, as scheduled, on Jan. 10. During the first week, in order to give us time to test our population and set a baseline for the semester, we will hold classes virtually. The week of January 16 is a shortened week. There are no classes on Martin Luther King Day (Monday) and classes are cancelled for the March for Life (Friday) from 11am to 3pm. That week we will give faculty the option to teach in person. All faculty who decide to teach in person will be required to offer students the opportunity to attend in person or virtually. All classes will resume in person Monday, Jan. 24.
Residence halls will be open starting Jan. 8 for residential students. Students will not be required to quarantine upon return, but visitation within the residence halls (including between occupants of the same building) will be suspended during this period. Meals will be provided for students on a meal plan as “grab and go” through Jan. 23. There will be no in-person activities during the same period, with the exception of varsity athletics, which will be conducted following the strict protocols of the athletic conferences.
Through Jan. 24 the Pryz, the Leahy computer lab, and Mullen Library will be open to students, but no food or drink will be allowed and a face covering will be required at all times. Each location might adopt and publish revised operating hours for this period. The Kane Fitness Center will be by appointment only, with masking and social distancing required until further notice. DuFour is closed to the public until Jan. 15.
For the first two weeks all daily and Sunday Masses will be celebrated on campus except for the daily 8:30 a.m. Mass in the Law School Chapel. Encounter in the Spirit and Eucharistic adoration on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday evenings will resume after Jan. 24.
What You Can Do
Keeping Catholic Safe is the work of us all. There is a lot each one of us can do to keep our community healthy and our campus vibrant.
First, don’t bring COVID-19 with you to campus. As stated earlier, we expect all students to be tested for COVID-19 within three days prior to returning to campus. Your compliance with this request is our best shot at limiting the spread of COVID this semester.
Second, participate in campus testing. We will test all residential students within 1-5 days of their return to campus, and throughout the semester we will implement surveillance testing for all students, including off-campus students, graduate students, and law students. The expectation is that you will comply when you are invited to be tested.
Third, vaccination is the most effective way to reduce your own risk and risk to others. For those few students, faculty, and staff who have not been vaccinated, we again encourage you to consider the wisdom of doing so. And for those who are eligible for the booster shot, please make an appointment to get yours as soon as possible.
In light of the Omicron variant, supervisors, with the explicit approval of their own supervisors, may authorize some amount of work from home through Jan. 14. Such modifications are available when, in the sole judgment of a supervisor, an employee’s work can be accomplished remotely, whether through rotation schedules or other plans.
Of course, we continue to encourage any employees who are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms to stay at home.
Mask requirements will continue to be in effect, as well as updated CDC protocols for anyone who has tested positive for COVID.
Student employees should work with their direct supervisors regarding schedules and continuing to follow mask and distancing requirements.
Keep Catholic Safe
We were very fortunate this fall to have a low positivity rate, thanks to careful protocols, the hard work of our staff and faculty, and the commitment of our campus community to following safety measures.
Our ability to be together on campus depends on our shared commitment to Keep Catholic Safe. We can continue to enjoy our beautiful campus community together if we all do our part.