COVID-19 Update: January 4, 2022


Dear Bereans,

This is the campus update for Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

Adjustment to academic calendar for Spring 2022

A preliminary announcement deferring move-in for returning students to the weekend of January 15-16 was shared with everyone last Friday.  That statement has been incorporated into a policy statement copied below and appearing on the COVID Policies website.  Please note the requirement for both employees and students to provide a negative test result in order to return to campus and the requirement for students to receive a vaccination booster when eligible.

Some Bereans may have questions regarding the boosters.  Here is a CDC site providing trustworthy information regarding boosters.
Please note that the boosters consist of the same vaccines as in the original shots.  Anyone who was able to tolerate the original vaccination should have no difficulty with the booster.

Some other Bereans have asked for more information about the Administrative Committee’s (AC) decision to delay in-person activities for a week and the testing and booster requirements for students.  Here are a few points.

  • Omicron is the most highly transmissible variant yet but fortunately seems to cause fewer severe cases, particularly among those who have been vaccinated and received the booster.  Vaccination and the booster also offer quite solid protection against getting infected at all and becoming contagious to others.
  • In light of these developments, the AC must now, in addition to weighing everyone’s health and safety, be concerned with the possibility of a large number of student cases overwhelming our quarantine capacity.  (Even though omicron causes fewer severe cases, quarantine is still expected for anyone becoming infected and/or testing positive, either for 10 days following earlier CDC guidance, or five days following the new guidance.  We await a decision from Kentucky health authorities on the expected duration of quarantine in our state.)
  • Obviously, getting our community to the highest possible level of boosted vaccination is the highest priority, as it protects us on both counts, improves health and safety of all while also reducing the likelihood of having to curtail in-person activities because we have exceeded our capacity to quarantine students.
  • Why postpone a week?  We already have a significant number of students who stayed on campus over winter break in quarantine.  Waiting a week should allow us to start the term with some quarantine capacity in reserve.  Also, the further along we are in the surge, the more of it is “behind us,” and, we are hopeful, as experience in South Africa has shown, that the decline in the number of cases will be just as abrupt as the rise in the case of omicron.

Some other Bereans, mostly students, have asked why employees are not also subject to the booster mandate.  Here the response is the same as for the fall term when we enacted a vaccine mandate for students, but not for employees, even though it is in the best interests both of individuals and the community for as many persons as possible to be vaccinated.  The reality is that there is a real difference in the degree of close engagement that occurs among students and between employees.  Students are in close interactions on a 24/7 basis, in the residence halls, in dining, and in many other campus activities.  Therefore, while we strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated, it really is more important for students to be vaccinated, for their own protection and to prevent outbreaks that might threaten our ability to continue to operate.  And likewise for the boosters.

Booster vaccinations

In the last update from 2021 we announced that White House Clinic (WHC) would be offering booster clinics for students immediately after the start of the Spring Term.  Given the postponement of move-in by a week, WHC will now be offering boosters on Move-In Day itself.  Any student whose last vaccination was 6 months or longer ago should plan to take advantage of this opportunity to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and having to quarantine during the term.  Berea students living in the vicinity of a White House Clinic location are invited to get their boosters early by visiting a Clinic location.  Students wishing further information from WHC on this amazing opportunity are urged to call them at 859-985-1415 during working hours.

All employees are strongly recommended as well to seek the booster as soon as eligible.  Shots are free and readily available at the various providers including Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger, etc.  This will be of great help in limiting outbreaks on campus in the coming term.

GREAT NEWS for students from the Student Financial Aid Office

Continuing students (students enrolled in 2021 Fall Term and are continuing into 2022 Spring Term) will receive funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP or HEERF III) early next week for spring-term expenses.  As stated in the ARP legislation, students are to use these funds for Cost of Attendance items, such as housing, meals, books and supplies, child care, etc. These are grant funds and do not have to be repaid, nor do students have to provide receipts of expenditures. All students are eligible for these funds, including international and DACA students.

The chart below outlines the amounts each student will receive based on need as determined by 2021-22 Expected Family Contribution (EFC):

EFC Disbursement Amount
$0 $875
$1 – 2999 $825
$3000 – 5830 $675
$5831 – 9999 $725
$10,000 and above $575

Because the spring term is beginning online, most students will miss a week of work.  As addressed in the update last week, students will have their spring-term labor expectation reduced by 10 hours.  However, knowing that students depend on these earnings, we have included an extra $75 in the funds above to help compensate for this loss of income.

In addition, students will not be charged for room and board for the week they will not be on campus.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your spring term bill before confirming, please contact Student Financial Aid counselors at finaid@berea.edu.

Kentucky and Madison County update

I have not provided Madison County and Kentucky numbers for a couple of weeks, and, with the onset of omicron, case numbers have moved in the wrong direction.

For Madison County, the number of new cases over a week has increased from 457 to 582, so we are even further into the Red zone.  We have had six more deaths in the county since the last report, bringing the total now to 213.   The vaccination rate in the County hit 50.0% this week, continuing the gradual increase.

Kentucky reported 32,678 new cases for the week ending yesterday, more than double the total from the last report.  The average is now 4,668 cases/day.   The Commonwealth has reported 160 deaths over the last week for an average number of deaths/day of 23.  The numbers of deaths have been decreasing week by week, consistent with the fact that omicron, while more transmissible, appears to be less deadly.  The test positivity rate has continued its dramatic increase and is now over 20%!

Stay safe, get vaccinated and boosted, stay in touch,
Lyle Roelofs, President
Berea College


COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY FOR STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES

MOVE-IN TESTING REQUIREMENT AND SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENT FOR STUDENTS
(Spring 2022)

 

The following policies are in effect for the Spring 2022 Term, effective immediately.  Please read this information carefully. 

 

Move-In Information for Students and Faculty

  • Considering the increase in COVID-19 infections, the AC has decided to delay move-in of students by one week.
  • Classes will still begin as scheduled on January 11, but classes will be online until students return to campus.  In-person classes will begin January 18. 
  • Students will move in on January 15 and 16 instead of January 8 and 9.
  • Because of one week of online learning, the required labor hours for the Spring 2022 Term will be reduced by 10 hours.  To compensate students for the lost income, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) refunds scheduled to be issued this month will be increased by $75 for each full-time enrolled student.
  • Athletes who are currently engaged in their season are expected to arrive according to their original schedule.  Questions should be directed to your coaches.

Test Results Policy for Students

  • Students must arrive on campus for move-in with a negative test result administered by a health care provider, either an antigen (rapid) test in the last 48 hours before arrival or a PCR test within 72 hours.

 

Vaccination Policy for Students (this policy supersedes the vaccination mandate for Fall 2021)

  • First-round COVID vaccinations and boosters are mandated for students.  White House Clinics will provide these boosters.  Students are required to provide Student Life with the date of their final first-round immunization and get the booster within a week of eligibility (six months following the date of the last vaccination) once on campus. Please upload your information here.
  • Students who received medical or religious vaccination exemptions for the Fall 2021 Term are approved for continuing exemption, applying now as well to the booster.  Continuing students who have not yet requested an exemption but wish to do so in connection with the booster mandate may apply for medical or religious exemptions by contacting Student Life. Prior exemption requests will not be reconsidered.
  • Students testing positive upon arrival will be required to quarantine and make their own off-campus housing arrangements for the duration of the quarantine.  The College will follow current quarantine recommendations prescribed by the Kentucky Department of Public Health. Exceptions will be allowed only for those students for whom this would be a serious hardship.  The campus will not have sufficient quarantine space in the event of an outbreak.  Students requesting an exception should contact Student Life at LSL@berea.edu.  Students in quarantine will be responsible to make up any missed coursework or labor.

Information for Employees

  • Employees are strongly encouraged to receive first-round COVID vaccinations and boosters when eligible.
  • Employees who can work effectively from home may plan to do so until Monday, January 17.  Please consult with your supervisor so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Regardless of when they return to on-campus work, employees are expected to supply proof of a negative PCR test before returning to on-campus work.

Students may address questions to Student Life at LSL@Berea.edu. Faculty may address questions to the Dean of Faculty, and staff may address questions to Human Resources at HealthyAtWork@Berea.edu.

Approved by the Administrative Committee:  January 3, 2022.