December 17: COVID-19 Community Update
December 17, 2021
To All Employees and Students,
As we prepare to depart campus for a well-deserved winter break, the COVID-19 Task Force continues to closely monitor and share the status of COVID-19 in our community. In the last two weeks, test results indicated there are three (3) new positive cases among residential students, and two (2) new cases pertaining to students at the Ryan Health Science Center.
Nevertheless, due to our high vaccination rates (employees 97.5%; students 91%), mask mandates, and robust testing protocols for our residential students, the Bay Path University campus community has consistently maintained COVID-19 positivity rates lower than the cities and towns that surround our campuses. More importantly, with the protection provided by vaccinations, the COVID-19 cases we have had thus far have been asymptomatic or mild.
Vaccine booster shots are now available offering an important additional layer of protection. The FDA has approved a COVID-19 booster shot and the CDC further emphasizes the importance of a vaccination booster for individuals who are 18 years and older: “Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine.”
Why should you get a booster?
- Antibodies from vaccines decline over time.
- Higher antibody levels from vaccines seem to make the average person less likely to get sick from the coronavirus.
- Booster shots of mRNA coronavirus vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) increase antibodies by about 10 times.
- Boosters can provide further protection against the Omicron variant; early data shows that this variant is more transmissible than other variants.
Booster Shot Requirement:
Based on this new evidence, Bay Path University is updating its health and safety requirements to include booster shots:
- All employees who work at one of the Bay Path University campuses and all students who attend classes or use the facilities on any campus are required to receive a booster shot by February 1, 2022, or sixty (60) days after they become eligible. If you received Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna and are aged 18 or older, you are eligible at least six months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series. If you received Johnson & Johnson and are aged 18 or older, you are eligible at least two months after receiving your vaccine.
- Documentation of the booster shot will be required by February 1 for those who are eligible. For those who become eligible after February 1, documentation will be required sixty (60) days after they become eligible.
- Details on how to upload booster shot documentation will be available by January 10, 2022.
- If you have already received an approved exemption from Covid-19 vaccination, you will continue to be exempt from this requirement. However, all unvaccinated employees who have authorized medical and religious waivers and work on any of the Bay Path University Campuses must also submit to a weekly COVID test.
- Employees who fail to comply with the University’s vaccine booster requirement may be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
- Students who fail to comply will not have access to any campus buildings, including residence halls.
Return to Campus
**As you prepare for a return to campus after the winter break, please take note of the following COVID-19 protocols.
Because of their unique congregate living arrangements Residential Students (undergraduate and graduate) are required to submit a negative COVID test prior to returning to campus for the spring semester. This is in alignment with the same procedure that was observed at the start of the fall semester.
Residential students are provided two options:
- Test at an authorized testing site off campus and upload your PCR test results to the Medicat Portal. Results must be within 72 hours before your arrival on campus.
- Test on campus in the Health Services Department on January 13 & 14, 2022, from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM.
Students who do not comply with this policy will not be allowed access to on campus housing.
PLEASE NOTE: The testing center will resume normal operations beginning Monday, January 17, 2022. Residential students will be notified of the schedule and testing regimen in a separate email.
Unvaccinated commuter and graduate students attending classes on any one of the Bay Path University campuses are required to provide a negative COVID test prior to attending class. Students can upload their PCR test results to the Medicat Portal. Results must be within 72 hours before their arrival on campus. Negative Covid test must be submitted weekly thereafter. This is the same procedure that was observed at the beginning and during the fall semester.
Vaccinated commuter or graduate students attending classes on any one of the Bay Path University campuses are not required to provide a negative COVID test prior to attending class. It is strongly recommended that you take one for your own peace of mind and for the health and safety of others. For a list of testing sites near you, go to mass.gov/GetTested
If you are an unvaccinated employee and are returning to campus or it is your first time on campus, you are required to provide a negative COVID test. Test results must be within 72 hours of your arrival on campus.
Bay Path University has adopted the federal guidelines of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination and Testing (29 CFR 1910.501) for mandatory vaccinations in order to safeguard the health of all our employees from the hazard of COVID-19. Beginning January 3, 2022, all unvaccinated employees who have authorized medical or religious waivers and work on any of the Bay Path University campuses must also submit to a weekly COVID test.
Unvaccinated employees have two options for testing:
- Test at an authorized testing site off campus and email your results to the Human Resources Director and Assistant VP Javier Padilla at jpadillia@ baypath.edu. Test results must be within 72 hours of your arrival on campus. For a list of testing sites near you, go to mass.gov/GetTested
- Test at the Longmeadow campus (free of charge) in the Health Services Department beginning January 17, 2022. The testing site is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM.
Vaccinated employees are not required to provide a negative COVID test prior to returning to work, but it is strongly recommended that you take one for your own peace of mind and for the health and safety of others. For a list of testing sites near you, go to mass.gov/GetTested
Face Coverings/Symptom Tracking
For the spring semester, we expect to continue the current protocols on campus indoor face coverings (masking) and symptom tracking requirements. The face-covering requirement will be reviewed during the semester.
As always, the COVID-19 Task Force is grateful for your cooperation as we navigate the changing conditions of the pandemic, and your care and attention in keeping our community safe.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday break,
The COVID-19 Task Force