Dear students, faculty and staff,
I hope that you have had an enjoyable and restful summer.
The fortitude and can-do attitude that our community has shown these last 17 months will serve us all well in the coming months as SU navigates a “normal” academic year amidst an ever-changing virus and frequently-changing public health recommendations.
We remained open for in-person learning during the past academic year as a result of compassion, care, and cooperation by all members of our university community. Students, staff and faculty worked together to benefit all, and in doing so, kept Shenandoah safe. We expect the same will be true this fall and we are looking forward to living, learning and engaging with one another in person.
We are optimistic that our opening plan allows us to be flexible and agile in responding to any environmental changes that could emerge due to the pandemic. Shenandoah has always been characterized by a strong sense of community and connections — we often hear and say that we are a FAMILY. As we have always done, we will continue to work together to creatively address challenges and embrace opportunities to succeed in ways we never thought possible.
Vaccination Rate Update
We believe the best defense we have against the community spread of COVID-19 is vaccination. I am pleased to report that as of this week, more than 95% of SU faculty and staff are vaccinated and our overall student body vaccination rate is currently at 75%. The percentages are even higher within the groups required to be vaccinated. A small number of medical or religious exemptions were also approved.
Thanks to all of you for helping keep our community safe. Our high vaccination rate has helped determine our mitigation strategy for the next few weeks.
COVID-19 Testing and Face Coverings for Unvaccinated Individuals at SU
Students returning to campus beginning this weekend who are not “fully vaccinated” (14 days have passed after final vaccine dose) will participate in re-entry testing as well as regular weekly testing until they become fully vaccinated. We will continue to utilize the effective pooled saliva test created last year by the faculty of the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy.
Faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated will also undergo re-entry testing the week of August 16. More details will follow.
Likewise, anyone who is not “fully vaccinated” must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth whenever they are indoors in public spaces, according to the university’s current policy that is based on the CDC’s recommendation.
Of course everyone, regardless of vaccination status, can wear a mask in any situation where you feel more comfortable doing so.
Shenandoah Go App and Symptom Checker
All students, faculty and staff must download the Shenandoah Go app in order to:
- Fill out the symptom checker, not daily, but only if you experience symptoms that could be related to COVID-19
- Report a positive COVID-19 test
- Receive important updates and notifications
If you deleted or haven’t yet downloaded the Shenandoah Go app, please add it to your phone today. When creating a new account, please use your SU email address to register.
If you experience symptoms, report through the app and be aware that the CDC recently changed guidance for fully vaccinated people with a COVID-19 exposure. Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3 to 5 days following a known (direct) exposure to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They do not need to quarantine unless they are symptomatic.
Students who feel sick or are concerned about an exposure to COVID-19 should report through the app to notify the Wilkins Wellness Center. Likewise, faculty and staff should also report via the app and notify their supervisors and Human Resources, while, if appropriate, seek medical advice from their primary care provider.
Classes and Campus Life
Shenandoah looks forward to face-to-face instruction this year! Many students indicated that they appreciated the flexibility offered this past year and hoped that some modified version of that flexibility would continue forward. Therefore, I am pleased to let you know that there will be some classes (about 15%) offered online or in a hybrid format. Those classes were marked as such when students registered for them.
In the case of a severe outbreak or significant change in the course of the virus, our extraordinary faculty are now equipped with digital best practices and new tools that will allow learning and engagement for all students to continue.
The dining hall will return to full-capacity seating, and all food stations will return to full pre-pandemic operation. Packing to-go meals will still be an option and there are plenty of outdoor spaces around campus to enjoy eating outside.
We look forward to a robust residential experience for students and Resident Assistants (RAs) are returning to main campus this weekend to prepare!
Athletics and Performances
We will welcome some student-athletes and some Conservatory performers next week for rehearsals, preseason training or practices. We expect all university athletics teams to compete as scheduled this fall, and student-athletes and coaching staff to follow all NCAA and conference guidance. We also expect to enjoy in-person, indoor performances this fall.
There is so much to be excited about and we can’t wait for you to join us for a fall destined to be filled with great accomplishments and achievements.