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Q&A with President Richardson: staying healthy on campus

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Q&A with President Richardson: staying healthy on campus

NEW WILMINGTON, PA.- President Richardson and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Candace Okello met with Lead College Correspondent Lauren Millhorn in mid-October to discuss reactions to the updated visitation policies and mitigation of the COVID-19 virus at Westminster College. Overall, Richardson is pleased with the community’s efforts to protect itself against COVID-19.   

“I do think, so far, that it’s gone very well,” she said. “I think the students who came back in the fall were used to being masked indoors, so that hasn’t been too much of a change. Our transmission rates remain low, and I’m very grateful and thankful for that.” 

Richardson urges the Westminster population to remain vigilant in masking, distancing, and proper handwashing to reduce positive cases and transmission rates now that visitation has reopened. She shares that the administration will continue to track positive cases and follow the advice of healthcare providers to navigate on-campus visitation.  

“We haven’t set out a definite number [of positive cases to close visitation}. What we’ll do is what we did last fall and spring: just see where the trends are. We get great advice from our local healthcare [providers] and the Department of Health.”  

Richardson and Okello also offered a reminder to students of the monetary consequences for violating COVID-19 policies.   

“The first-time COVID fine—and I think that covers all the violations of policies—is set at $150,” Richardson said.  

Okello explained that the fine amount increases upon more violations. All fines go towards the College’s General Operating fund.   

Richardson also explained the guidelines for athletic teams in a COVID atmosphere.  

“Our athletic teams comply with—in terms of practice and competition—[the] NCAA regulations. They have precise regulations about testing and when one should wear a mask and when one shouldn’t. We depend on the coaches and trainers to keep that moving accurately. They’ve done, I think, a very good job so far.”  

The College is still waiting on an update for President Biden’s vaccination mandate for private employers with 100+ employees. The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICAU) informed Richardson that Biden’s administration could release the specific details of their order within the next week or month. However, Richardson explained that the Board of Trustees will discuss SGA’s vaccine resolution in the upcoming week.    

“I think it’s always important for SGA to seek to represent the views of the student body in a responsible way,” said Richardson. “I think they gave due consideration to their resolution. We’ll be discussing that with the Board of Trustee leadership in the same way we are continuing the discussions about the faculty resolution.”  

Richardson shared that nearby colleges Theil and Chatham have already required the vaccine for all students, faculty, and staff. She said healthcare-focused colleges within the Commonwealth have ordered vaccine mandates for their communities, with positive effects. Richardson has had conversations with many college presidents in the Commonwealth about vaccine mandates and their effects.  

Adagio Health will host another vaccine clinic at Westminster College on November 9 from 10 A.M.-2:30 P.M. Besides COVID and flu vaccines, Adagio will offer free STI/HIV testing, PrEP for HIV prevention, birth control resources, and gynecological exams.   

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