NEW WILMINGTON, Pa—As the campus community continues to navigate COVID education, President Richardson shares insight on the administration’s thought process regarding pandemic mandates and reminds the community how these policies impact mitigation of the virus.
The College resumed pre-pandemic residential visitation policies on October 7. President Richardson explained the College’s fall 2021 COVID visitation policy. It allows Berlin Village students to register one on-campus visitor in their home. Dorm residents can freely visit each other in the residence halls.
“Folks who live in one of our larger halls have 90-100 people with whom they can interact while they’re in the residence hall, while Berlin folks would have three others,” President Richardson says. “I think that was what allowed [Berlin residence] to bring a guest in.”
President Richardson also shared why off-campus visitors are still prohibited indoors—except to prospective student visitors and overnight athletic recruits—while visitation is now fully open for on-campus residents.
“We weren’t willing to allow people to come from off-campus into the residence halls [out of concern to] keep them as safe and healthy as possible. We are allowing guests to visit campus—which is an improvement from last year—but we’re encouraging [people] to visit outside where everyone can be masked and safer. The more that we open all visitors, the more likely it is that there would be a greater risk of spreading infections. Our vaccination rate is what it is at this point, and, so, really we are just trying to provide students with as much interaction as they can have safely while still managing to keep the risk as low as we can get it.”
She further reminds the community that campus COVID policies are reflective of the infection rate in Lawrence County. The administration will consider revising restrictions once the county reaches the low or moderate infection rates determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. “One of the things that we don’t talk a lot about on-campus in terms of students, faculty, and staff, is the infection rate around us in the county. So, we monitor that very closely as well.” Lawrence county currently has 10,225 reported positive COVID cases.
President Richardson also announces that the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania is “waiting eagerly” for details on President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers with 100+ employees. The Association discusses this mandate frequently.
The College returned to fully in-person instruction in fall 2021, foregoing the virtual learning option that was available throughout academic year 2020. President Richardson shares options that students have if they test positive or come into close contact with a positive individual and says that they can follow the same procedures that they would if they had to miss class for any reason, such as borrowing notes or attending faculty office hours to catch up on missed material. She says, “The faculty really tried this year to not distinguish COVID but include it in the general policies for students who miss class.”