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Updated COVID-19 guidance, including booster requirement

Posted by:
January 14, 2022

To: All Campus
From: Office of the President
Subject:Updated COVID-19 guidance, including booster requirement

Dear PLU Community,

We are updating our COVID-19 guidance as we monitor the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants in our communities and around the world, even among those who are vaccinated.

As we finish the second week of J-Term, thank you for working to keep yourself and one another safe. Our 96% vaccination rate — along with wearing masks indoors, testing, and following isolation and self-quarantine protocols — allowed us to safely resume in-person courses and activities this fall. Unfortunately, positive cases in the South Sound have risen sharply in the new year, a trend that has been reflected on campus.

In consultation with our public-health partners, including the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department, we are leveling up our preventative measures as a community for the rest of J-Term and the spring semester.

Here are five important updates for you to know:

1. We’re expanding our vaccination requirement to include the booster

With the continued rapid rise of the Omicron variant, the PLU COVID-19 Task Force and President’s Council have thoroughly reviewed the university’s vaccination policies that focus on the health of the campus community. Today, we are announcing that PLU’s requirement for all community members — students, faculty, and staff — to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will include getting the booster shot, with case-by-case exceptions allowed only for qualifying medical or religious reasons. This definition of “fully vaccinated” matches the definition now used by the CDC and state and local public-health authorities.

All PLU students, faculty, and staff will be required to get a booster shot by Monday, February 7, 2022, if currently eligible, or within 14 days of their eligibility.

Get your vaccine booster on campus on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., at the Columbia Center, now through the end of February! The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available for first shots, second shots, and boosters. The clinics are walk-in only.

2. Upload your updated vaccination status

By Monday, February 7, you will need to update your vaccination status by providing your booster information. Look for directions on how to submit your booster information on Tuesday, January 18. These instructions will also be added to the COVID-19 webpage.

If you have already submitted and received a COVID-19 vaccine exemption, you do not need to reapply for an exemption for the booster at this time. Where COVID-19 vaccination exceptions have been granted, the university may require additional COVID-19 testing, social and access restrictions, quarantining, and other limitations based on and aligned with public-health guidance.

3. Changes have been made to our quarantine and isolation requirements

The state Department of Health and the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department recently recommended changes to COVID-19 guidelines, including reducing the number of isolation and quarantine days. Click here for an updated flow chart to see what that means for Lutes.

4. Choose the best mask

As new variants continue to emerge, experts are calling for upgraded protective options, such as surgical and KN95 masks, to help contain airborne particles. The university has procured an initial inventory of these masks for distribution to the campus community, including pick-up locations in Campus Safety and the Old Main Market. In the meantime, and as you prepare for continued mask-wearing, we recommend using a verified source such as ProjectN95.org to ensure that your masks effectively protect you and others. (We encourage you to also review the literature describing different methods for using KN95s multiple times.)

5. It’s important to care for your mental health and the needs of others

Checking in on and strengthening your mental health is an ongoing pursuit, especially with the added stresses of the pandemic. We care about all Lutes having consistent access to places where you can work on your emotional health, the same way you might work on your physical health at a gym, on an athletic field, or by taking a walk.

For students, Lute TeleHealth offers 24/7/365 Talk Now appointments, similar to the Counseling Center’s walk-in sessions. Lute TeleHealth also provides a scheduled appointment option where you may see the same licensed counselor for longer-term sessions. Here is a comprehensive list of resources for Spring 2022.

Faculty and staff seeking mental-health resources for themselves are encouraged to access the full Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Every student, faculty, and staff member has their own unique circumstances this J-Term. There’s no one-size-fits-all experience, just as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the pandemic challenges we are confronting in our individual lives.

What we do know is that we must work together to keep our community healthy and strong. That means practicing behaviors that prevent the spread of the virus, such as wearing a high-grade mask that covers your nose and mouth, staying home if you feel ill, avoiding contact with others who are sick, and getting the vaccine booster. Additionally, it means intentionally centering community and reaching out to keep communication lines open with those around you, including colleagues, professors, coaches, employees, supervisors, and friends and family.

We’re all here together — each of us doing our part to help keep each other safe and connected as we learn, live, and work at PLU throughout this ongoing pandemic.

In service,

Allan Belton
President

Dr. Joanna Gregson
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Teri Phillips
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
COVID-19 Site Supervisor

Dan Lee
Vice President of University Relations