This message was sent to faculty and staff on behalf of Provost Rogan Kersh and Executive Vice President Hof Milam.
Greetings dear colleagues,
Thank you for all you have done to help us start the spring semester well. The spread of the Omicron variant requires continued vigilance in our response to the ongoing pandemic, as we uphold our dual priorities of providing superb in-person educational experiences for our students and helping keep our campus community healthy and safe.
On December 29, 2021, we shared updated COVID-19 protocols for this spring with the campus community and said we would review these measures in the coming weeks.
Since we returned to campus, there has been a predictable rise in positive student cases, given the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant. To date, we have been able to effectively manage these cases, treat students in our Student Health Service, and provide adequate isolation and quarantine spaces. Thanks in large part to compliance with the University’s booster requirement, those who have tested positive to date have experienced mild symptoms.
We continue to have no evidence of COVID transmission in our classrooms, which we attribute to careful adherence to our indoor mask mandate and, again, to the exceptionally high vaccination and booster rates among faculty and students. This allows us to continue our in-person learning experience instead of moving to virtual delivery.
We are also seeing a higher rate of positive cases among faculty and staff this semester. Previously established accommodations processes are in place to use as needed. For faculty, deans’ offices, area chairs, and department chairs are able to provide assistance. Staff should familiarize themselves with the Sick and Care Leave policy.
Given this information, we wanted to share the following with you:
- We are extending our public health protocols at least through February 11. This includes wearing face coverings indoors, which remains a citywide mandate, and adhering to current indoor event protocols, which prohibit indoor food or drink and require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. (As a reminder, all of Wake Forest’s COVID-19 policies can be found on Our Way Forward.) This information will be shared with our students via their weekly newsletter on Thursday.
- With guidance from our public health consultants, we do not plan to expand asymptomatic testing of vaccinated students, faculty and staff. A positive test in an asymptomatic individual and the likelihood of transmission in such a highly vaccinated population is not as significant a marker as it was prior to the availability of vaccines and boosters. Thus, the public health benefit of such testing and subsequent isolation of students is not as great as it was earlier in the pandemic. Such testing also further burdens an already beleaguered health system where tests are in short supply in many areas where the need for them is dire.
- All eligible faculty and staff must upload their booster vaccination record by Monday, January 31. Additional information about booster eligibility, compliance deadlines and assistance uploading your documentation is available on Our Way Forward.
- We are keeping a close eye on the number of positive cases and changes in the daily confirmed total active COVID cases. We have plans in place to care for students should conditions change and we are prepared to adjust our protocols as necessary.
We are looking forward to the predicted decline of positive cases both here and nationally in the coming weeks. Again, our sincere gratitude for the great effort and care amid uncertainty you continue to show our students and colleagues.
Executive Vice President