Today, we write to share a few updates regarding our transition back to in-person curricular and co-curricular activities.
Positivity Rate on Campus
This week’s COVID-19 Dashboard shares results from last week’s testing, which shows total active cases at 81 (61 new student cases and 20 new employee cases). The numbers reflect both on-campus testing results and off-campus test results submitted by community members. We recognize that this is the highest number of active cases we have seen to date. As we have shared, we are not surprised to see an increase in the positivity rate among members of our campus community due to the Omicron variant’s high rate of transmission. One thing that is important to note is that we administered 1,000 more tests last week than the previous week. While our active case numbers did increase week over week, the actual percentage of positive cases decreased from 5.84% to 3.0%, which shows that our current mitigation efforts are working.
We encourage us all to remember that Lawrence is a highly vaccinated community—94% of our students and 93% of our employees are vaccinated. As we have learned, breakthrough cases of the Omicron variant are inevitable. We also know that vaccinated individuals, particularly those who have received a booster, are less likely to experience severe infections. This is why we require all vaccinated individuals to get a COVID-19 booster shot if eligible and submit proof of having received the booster as soon as possible. Students should send their proof to Wellness Services; employees should send their proof to Human Resources.
Over the winter break, we transitioned to a new testing firm. We used this firm for surveillance testing for community members participating in D-Term and did not experience delays or disruptions to our testing process. With our full community’s return to campus and the increase in testing numbers—both on campus and around the nation—we are seeing concerning delays in our testing results. Our colleagues in Wellness Services are in touch with our testing provider daily to address and resolve these delays.
In the meantime, we ask for everyone’s patience as we work to resolve these issues and continue to conduct our weekly surveillance testing. Please check your email regularly for any updates and information about individual and campus-wide surveillance testing.
Return to In-Person Classes
While most community members were able to return to in-person classes yesterday, there are individuals who are not in compliance with the university’s testing policy: Faculty, students, and staff must take two on-campus or local COVID-19 tests, 3-5 days apart, as part of our safe return-to-campus process. These individuals have been contacted, are not currently attending classes, and will need to be compliant with our testing expectations before returning to classes.
Due to the recent testing result delays, there is a small number of students, faculty, and staff who received a negative result on their first test and would have been in compliance with our policy if their second negative test result was received in a timely manner. For those individuals, LPPT decided after robust discussion to allow them to return to in-person classes, following all current safety protocols. Wellness Services identified those individuals and contacted them on Tuesday morning so that they could attend classes.
We believe this was the best decision for our community at this time. Our goal is to ensure that as many individuals can participate in our academic program, being mindful of the health and welfare of our community and the fact that we are a highly vaccinated campus with strong mitigation strategies in place.
If faculty or students have concerns about the decision or practices within their classroom, please email email@example.com. We will be in touch as soon as possible to address your concerns.
Masking is required in all indoor public facilities, regardless of vaccination status. We recommend a KN95 mask or double masking, pairing a cloth mask with a disposable surgical-style mask, as these provide the best protection against the virus. Learn more about the proper way to wear your mask here.
Our first order of KN95 masks for the community has arrived on campus. These have been placed in residence halls for students and are also available in Wellness Services. Additional masks have been ordered and will be distributed accordingly once they arrive.
Again, we thank you for your continuing patience and diligence as we navigate the pandemic. We will continue to update our campus community as soon as possible when additional information or a shift if operational status is needed.
Be well and stay well,