We have updated the message below to reflect the following: “Please note that students who arrive on campus on or after January 9, 2022, will be entitled to a refund of the room and board charges for the first week of winter term.” The original date listed for arrival in the email message was January 8. We apologize for the confusion. — LPPT, 12/23/21
Today we write with an important update for the Lawrence community regarding our plans for winter term 2022 and the university’s operational status.
Since the close of the fall term, the pandemic has continued to evolve. The introduction of the Omicron variant has resulted in rapid community spread across the country and world, with a surge expected to hit the Fox Cities region in January. As a highly vaccinated community with standing practices and protocols in place, including weekly surveillance testing and contact tracing, we have managed to live, learn, and work with the pandemic over the last 18 months. While the risk of severe illness from Omicron appears to be low at this time for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, the risk of contracting this highly transmissible variant, even among vaccinated community members, is high.
This risk has led us to change the university’s operating status to Orange Light: Open, Substantial Risk, and to adjust our return to campus in the new year.
Changes to Winter Term
Winter term will officially begin as planned on Monday, January 3, 2022, beginning with all curricular and co-curricular activities taking place remotely. The following changes will take place:
- Remote curricular and co-curricular activities will be extended through the second week of classes, January 10-14. We will evaluate the status of campus during the second week of classes with the intention of resuming in-person classes on Tuesday, January 18, after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
- Student move-in will be moved back one week to Sunday, January 9. We understand that this shift may be difficult for some students, as travel plans may not be able to be adjusted. Special accommodation for those who need to return to campus on the original move-in date, January 2, may be arranged.
- We ask that all returning students fill out this survey by Tuesday December 28, to let us know when you plan to return to campus.
- All meals will be grab-and-go through Monday, January 17.
- Personnel who provide direct support to the student experience, including Student Life, Facilities, Campus Services, and Bon Appetit, are expected to report to work as scheduled following the winter break, unless otherwise informed by your supervisor.
- All other personnel should work remotely, if possible, during the first week of January. Please contact your supervisor if you have any questions. More information regarding ongoing work arrangements through January will be shared by January 7.
- We are currently awaiting guidance from our athletics conferences to determine the next steps for our winter sports.
- All official university travel except athletics competitions is suspended until further notice.
Please note that students who arrive on campus on or after January 9, 2022, will be entitled to a refund of the room and board charges for the first week of winter term. This will appear as a credit on their student accounts.
Return to Campus & Testing
Students and employees living, learning, and working on campus are expected to adhere to their commitment to Honor the Pledge, which includes adhering to the following:
- All community members will take a pre-test before returning to campus. More information on recommended tests and what to do if you cannot access a test can be found on the Covid-19 FAQ. Only return to campus if your test is negative. Students who test positive should contact the Dean of Students at firstname.lastname@example.org to make necessary arrangements. Faculty and staff should contact Human Resources at email@example.com and their supervisor.
- All students and employees will be tested upon their return to campus. Students and employees on campus during the first week of January (January 3-7) will be tested on January 3 and, again, later in the week. Students and employees returning during the week of January 10-15 will also be tested twice. Please stay tuned to your email for additional information regarding testing. You can also visit the Wellness Services website as we update information.
- All vaccinated community members must get a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible. Information on booster eligibility is available here. While breakthrough cases of the Omicron variant are inevitable, it is proven that a booster shot significantly lessons the severity of infection. You can use this link to schedule your booster shot: https://www.vaccines.gov/.
- Vaccinated community members need to submit proof of a booster as soon as possible. Students send proof to Wellness Services at firstname.lastname@example.org; employees send proof to Human Resources at email@example.com. Information regarding individual booster deadlines will follow shortly from Human Resources and Wellness Services.
- Students and employees on campus will participate in regular surveillance testing. Weekly surveillance testing will resume starting the week of January 17. Unvaccinated individuals will be tested each week; vaccinated individuals will be randomly selected for ongoing weekly surveillance testing. More information on testing can be found on the Wellness Services website.
All community members are also encouraged to take extra precautions, including limiting in-person meetings and gatherings whenever possible and double masking for all indoor activities, regardless of vaccination status. It is also important that we continue to practice other health protocols like physical distancing and hand washing.
We recognize that this change in operational status, particularly during the winter break and holiday season, is a challenging one for us all. All changes allow us to provide greater flexibility for our campus community to obtain boosters, confirm negative test results, and address potential health concerns related to holiday gatherings and travel. We greatly appreciate our community’s continuing flexibility, patience, and dedication to one another as we continue to adjust and adapt to the challenges the pandemic brings.
A new set of FAQs have been added to the COVID-19 website, which addresses questions regarding testing and other important information regarding winter term. Please also continue to submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. As the university remains closed until January 2, we will respond to you as quickly as we can, and we greatly appreciate your patience as you await a response.
We will continue to monitor the viral situation on-campus and in our surrounding community, following CDC guidance and working with our local health agencies. If adjustments to our plans or operational status are needed, we will be in immediate communication with our campus community.
As we have said many times before, we are confident that together we will overcome this challenging moment for our community. We wish you a safe holiday season.
Be well and stay well,
Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team