Spring 2022/COVID

campus

This webpage serves as the repository for accurate and updated information about Westfield State’s Covid-19 planning and operations

Announced Dec. 21, 2021 booster doses will be required for all students, faculty, and staff within 30 days of becoming eligible.

January 12, 2021: A Message from the President: Rescinded PCR Test Requirement & Other Testing Changes

Dear Campus Community:

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a degree of unpredictability. Westfield State’s approach to responding to that unpredictability has been careful planning and identifying contingencies, as factors evolve that are out of our control. Health and safety remain our primary considerations for our COVID-19 planning and operations.

I continue to receive feedback on the undue burden our PCR test requirement is placing on a significant number of our returning students and their families. We apologize for this inconvenience and frustration, as there remains ongoing difficulties with obtaining a PCR test and growing delays in the turnaround of the results. 

Given this reality, we have decided to rescind our negative PCR test requirement for students as they return to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. I know many of our students and families have already gone through the trouble of scheduling the PCR test, and I’m sorry for that, especially given that the requirement now has been rescinded.

Other aspects of our plan for Spring 2022, as announced on Jan. 7, remain the same. With the absence of the PCR test requirement, please note the following testing protocols that will now be implemented:

  • Symptomatic students should stay home and test, and only return to campus if their test is negative. Those that test positive (through rapid test or PCR) should provide those results to Health Services and follow isolation instructions.
  • Unvaccinated/exempt residential students will be required to take an antigen rapid test upon their move-in to residential halls during their registered move-in date and time. Those registered to move-in on Sunday, Jan. 16 and Monday, Jan. 17 should report to Room 141B in New Hall for the antigen test, while those registered to move-in on Tuesday, Jan. 18 or Wednesday, Jan. 19 should report to Health Services for the antigen test. Unvaccinated residential students who test positive during Sunday-Wednesday’s antigen testing will be instructed to isolate off-campus. Unvaccinated residential students who test negative Sunday-Wednesday and are allowed to move into residence halls, will still need to also participate in the University’s weekly asymptomatic/surveillance testing on Tuesday, Jan. 18 or Wednesday, Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 141B of New Hall. This means that these students will be testing two times this upcoming week (antigen rapid test and PCR). 
  • Unvaccinated/exempt commuters are required to participate in the University’s weekly asymptomatic/surveillance testing on Tuesday or Wednesday, Jan. 18 or 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 141B in New Hall.
  • Vaccinated, asymptomatic residential students can return to the residence halls for move-in without a confirmed negative test during their registered date and time.
  • Vaccinated, asymptomatic commuter students can return to the campus/classroom, when on-ground classes resume on Monday, Jan. 24 without a confirmed negative test.
  • Weekly asymptomatic/surveillance testing (Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Room 141B in New Hall) remains open to faculty and staff.
  • The University will still offer optional, limited PCR testing on campus for interested students, faculty, and staff on Saturday, January 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 141B in New Hall.
  • Students who develop symptoms during the Spring 2022 semester are reminded to contact Health Services for evaluation and/or testing.

We ask our campus community members to remember their role in mitigating the spread of the virus on campus and to use their best judgement to protect themselves and our full community.

In addition to following these above testing protocols, please abide by our indoor mask mandate (surgical or KN95 masks are preferred), and sanitize your hands often. And, when you become eligible to receive the booster dose, take advantage of our clinics offered on campus or one at an off-site facility, in order to meet Westfield State's booster requirement.

We look forward to welcoming back our residential students beginning this weekend; our first day of classes (delivered remotely) on Tuesday, January 18; and the return of our commuter students when on-ground classes resume on Monday, January 24. 

Your cooperation and understanding are most appreciated.

Warmly,
Linda       

January 11, 2021: A Message from the President: Further Clarification & Additional Updates on Spring 2022

Dear Campus Community:

I write as a follow-up to my message from Friday, January 7. I appreciate the feedback from students, parents, faculty, and staff, as they work to comply with the protocol modifications for the spring. Everyone’s cooperation with these protocols will help us ensure the health and safety of our campus community, while delivering meaningful and engaging student experiences.  

 

PCR Test Availability 

We are receiving a lot of feedback regarding the availability of PCR tests for students. Here are some helpful links to help you find a testing site near you: 

https://curative.com/ 

https://www.holyokemall.com/covid-testing-at-holyoke-mall/ 

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test

Because of the limited availability of timely PCR tests, note that we are providing flexibility on move in times for residential students. Move-in begins Jan. 16 and will run until Jan. 23, based on when students are able to get their negative result and register for check-in. Residential students will receive a detailed email from Residential Life with specifics on the move-in process and how to register for a move-in date and time. Note that classes will be held remotely from Jan. 18 (first day of classes) to Jan. 21 to allow for such flexibility.

In addition, the advance time from the when the PCR test is administered to when the student arrives on campus has been extended from within 72 hours to within 96 hours, offering further flexibility to our students.   

Commuter students will also receive a detailed email from the Dean of Students on how to upload their negative result from a PCR test taken within 96 hours of the first day of on-ground classes—Monday, Jan. 24—or the day they plan to return to campus for on-ground classes or activities.

In addition, for those students who need to move into the residence halls on Sunday, Jan. 16 or Monday, Jan. 17, and are unable to schedule or obtain a PCR test prior to that, Westfield State will be offering a limited amount of PCR tests on Saturday, Jan. 15. The PCR tests will be offered in Room 141B in New Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those students who come to campus on Saturday for this purpose, are asked to park in the commuter parking lot. Note that students will not be able to move into residence halls on Saturday, Jan. 15, so this will require an additional trip to campus.   

  

COVID Positives over Winter Break 

Also, for those students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, a negative PCR test is not required prior to their return to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. However, documentation of any positive PCR test or rapid antigen test performed at a medical facility or testing site, or the date of the positive result from a rapid test performed at home during winter break needs to be sent to healthservices@westfield.ma.edu, using “Positive Test Result” as the subject line. 

 

Students with Boosters 

If you have received your booster dose, please provide proof to Health Services via email at healthservices@westfield.ma.edu. Please use “Booster Verfication” as the subject line.

Students who have already received their booster dose are still required to obtain a negative result from a PCR test to return to campus for the Spring 2022 semester.  

 

KN95 Masks 

Students who are not able to return to campus with a supply of KN95 masks of their own, can pick up a complimentary mask in the SAIL Office window in the garden level of Ely Campus Center during business hours the weeks of Jan. 17 and 24.  

Students, faculty, and staff are reminded to reference the CDC’s recommendations for mask selection and use. Surgical, single use blue ear loop masks or the KN95 masks are preferred.

We appreciate everyone’s continued patience and cooperation.

Warmly,
Linda       

January 7, 2021: A Message from the President: Important Updates for Spring 2022 Semester

Dear Campus Community: 

I write to share with you our plans for the opening of the campus for the spring semester following winter break. The implications of the pandemic are evolving as should our plans to reopen for the spring semester. Many factors have been taken into consideration in reviewing and updating our return to campus plans. The campus has evaluated these options in consultation with the local health department and our sister state institutions. 

As you are aware, residential halls will reopen beginning Sunday, January 16 and classes will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 18. We look forward to the start of the Spring 2022 semester as originally planned with the following changes. 

 

Required Negative PCR Tests

Proof of a negative PCR (molecular) COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of a student’s return must be provided in order for the student to return to campus following winter break. Residential students must provide proof upon move-in. Provided they can supply proof of a negative PCR result, residential students may move back into their residence halls beginning Jan. 16 and should look to receive further move-in instructions by Tuesday, Jan. 11. 

Commuter students should look for additional instruction on providing their proof in communication to come via email by Jan. 11. 

 

Remote Instruction Jan. 18-21

Students are encouraged to seek appointments for PCR tests now, as there may be lead time required with some testing sites. To provide students greater flexibility and time to obtain negative PCR tests, and to better manage and mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on campus, Westfield State University will offer all courses remotely for the first four days of the semester—Jan. 18-21. 

On Monday, Jan. 24, all classes will then resume with their originally intended modality (on-ground or online). 

Due to stringent, on-ground academic requirements in some of our academic majors, select courses may be offered on-ground during Jan. 18-21. All students should take the directive of their faculty on the mode of instruction for their courses Jan. 18-21. 

Students who do move back into the residence halls on Jan. 16-21 will attend their classes remotely Jan. 18-21, even though they will be on campus at that time. 

 

Masks and Testing

Per the mask mandate on campus and in the City of Westfield, masks will continue to be required indoors. We ask that all students return with a supply of KN95 masks, instead of cloth masks. The University will have an emergency supply of KN95 masks should students not have access or resources to purchase these masks on their own prior to arriving on campus. Standard, single use blue ear loop masks are acceptable, but not preferred to the KN95 masks.

Students, faculty, and staff should reference the CDC’s recommendations for mask selection and use for further guidance. 

Our weekly surveillance/asymptomatic testing will continue to concentrate on unvaccinated students, faculty and staff. Weekly surveillance testing is offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 141B in New Hall. 

Symptomatic testing for students will continue to be managed by Health Services. Students who are symptomatic should contact Health Services for further evaluation and/or testing. Faculty and staff who are symptomatic should not report to work, contact their supervisors and Human Resources, and seek direction from their medical providers regarding symptomatic testing.  

 

Booster Mandate and New Isolation and Quarantine Protocols

As I communicated on Dec. 21, booster doses will be required for all vaccinated students, faculty, and staff. Booster doses must be received within 30 days after an individual’s eligibility date (2 months after Johnson & Johnson vaccine; 5 months after Pfizer vaccine; and 6 months after Moderna vaccine). Note that only exemptions granted for the initial vaccine will be honored for the booster dose. 

The confirmed dates for Westfield State University’s COVID-19 clinics for boosters are Wednesday, January 12 from 12 to 4 p.m., and Friday, January 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 141B in New Hall. Registration is required: 

Stop&Shop-Westfield-COVIDVaccineClinic 

Participants should search 01086 for the clinic not 01096 as the directions read.

Also, the University has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised isolation and quarantine protocols announced on Dec. 28, 2021, also recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The most significant change is the reduced duration for isolation and quarantine from 10 to five days, with masks required to be worn at all times for another five days. 

As part of these updated quarantine protocols, individuals identified as close contacts of positive individuals—and are either unvaccinated or eligible for a booster dose but do not yet have a booster dose—will be required to quarantine for five days. For the spring semester, the University will continue to accommodate isolation needs for students who test positive. Individuals that are identified as close contacts needing to quarantine (unvaccinated, or eligible for the booster, but have not yet received the booster), will need to do so at an off-campus location.  

Adhering to the University’s booster dose mandate will prevent faculty, staff, and students who are identified as close contacts from the need to quarantine.   

 

New Student Orientation

Orientation for new students will be a hybrid of in-person and online sessions. New students will receive more details from orientation staff.  

 

Your Cooperation is Appreciated

Please know that we appreciate everyone’s efforts to collectively mitigate the negative impact of this sustained pandemic. We realize these protocols provide a level of inconvenience, but by adhering to them in the short term, we will be able to continue a meaningful and engaging student experience for the long term at Westfield State University. 

As you are aware, the campus is closed today due to inclement weather. With administrative offices closed, I apologize that you may not receive timely responses to any questions you have following receipt of this message. On Monday, January 10 from 5 to 7 p.m., I welcome you to call 413.579.3050 with any questions you may have. Also, our online COVID-19 FAQs will be revised to reflect these changes in the coming days. 

 

Warmly,
Linda       

December 21, 2021: A Message from the President: COVID-19 Booster Shots Required for all Faculty, Staff & Students

Dear Campus Community: 

I write as a follow-up to last week's message that mentioned the booster shot to inform you that the Council of Presidents (COP) for the Massachusetts State Universities will announce this afternoon that COVID-19 booster shots will be required for all faculty, staff, and students who intend to have an on-campus presence.

As noted in the below message from COP, “all students and employees will also receive an approved COVID-19 booster shot within thirty (30) days of becoming eligible.”

Westfield State University’s Incident Management Team will work to operationalize COP’s requirement and communication with further specifics will be forthcoming. The COVID-19 webpage and COVID-19 FAQs will also be updated accordingly in the coming week.

Faculty, librarians, and staff who have already received their booster shots may share proof with Gozel Pshenichnaya in Human Resources at gpshenichnaya@westfield.ma.edu. Students who have already received their booster shots may share proof with Health Services at healthservices@westfield.ma.edu. Also, look for information sent by Health Services on future booster clinics open to both students and employees to be held on campus. 

The potential requirement for booster shots was previously addressed with our faculty and staff unions and included in the agreements regarding COVID-19 vaccines finalized with the unions in the Fall 2021 semester. 

Thank you for your continued adherence to our health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to promote the health and well-being of the full campus community.

The Council of President’s full message to be issued as a press release this afternoon is as follows:

The Massachusetts State University system is joining a growing number of colleges and universities across the country and Commonwealth requiring their campus community to receive a booster shot of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination. 

“Last semester, the Presidents of the nine universities required anyone working, attending in-person classes, conducting research on campus, living in residence halls, or participating in campus life activities to be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, said Dr. James F. Birge, President of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and chair of the Massachusetts State University Council of Presidents. “The presidents expect that all students and employees will also receive an approved COVID-19 booster shot within thirty (30) days of becoming eligible.”

The Massachusetts State Universities have been leaders in the Stop the Spread Campaign and throughout the pandemic have made COVID-19 vaccination requirements, testing for students and employees, mask-wearing, enhanced sanitation protocols, and contact tracing a priority on our campuses. 

“We want to thank all our students, faculty and staff for embracing our call to protect our campuses and local communities through enhanced COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Because of the commitment of our students and workforce to the health and wellbeing of our campus community, the state universities have had less than a 1% positivity rate through the fall and have approximately 95% of our system fully vaccinated,” said President Birge. “With the continuing transmission of the Delta variant and the emergence of the Omicron variant, the safety of our campus communities remains at the forefront of our planning as we prepare to return to in-person learning and campus life for the spring 2021.”

In addition to requiring booster shots for the spring, the state universities will continue to operationalize other CDC-recommended COVID health and safety protocols, such as mask-wearing policies, COVID testing for students and employees, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of campus buildings and residence halls. The universities will continue to offer a traditional schedule of in-person classes in addition to online and hybrid options for both residential and commuter student populations. The nine campuses in the system are Bridgewater, Fitchburg, Framingham, Salem, Westfield and Worcester State Universities, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. 

 

Warmly,
Linda       

December 17, 2021: A Message from the President: Winter Break/Spring 2022 COVID updates

Dear Campus Community:

Thank you for your continued cooperation as Westfield State University continues to manage COVID-19 operations. I am writing today to provide some important updates as the Fall 2021 semester comes to a close.

  

COVID-19 Testing During Winter Break 

Beginning next week on Dec. 21 and for the duration of the winter break, the University’s weekly two-day asymptomatic testing program will be reduced to one day (Tuesdays) and offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 141B of New Hall.

 

Faculty, staff, and students who are not fully vaccinated and will continue to have an on-campus presence over winter break should continue with weekly testing on Tuesdays. Those that are not fully vaccinated and do not plan on being on campus for the break will be required to participate in the University’s testing on Tuesday, Jan. 11, prior to returning to campus after winter break. Unvaccinated/exempt faculty, staff and students who are not able to participate in the University’s Jan. 11 testing will be responsible for getting a molecular (PCR) test at an off-campus site and providing a negative test result to Health Services or Human Resources prior to their return to campus following winter break.  

 

Previously Remote Students Returning to Campus for Spring 2022

Students who have been exclusively remote for Fall 2021 and/or previous semesters during COVID-19 who plan to return to again have an on-campus presence for the spring, will need to provide proof of vaccination or a documented medical or religious exemption to Health Services by Jan. 10. Those failing to meet this requirement will not be permitted on campus for the Spring 2022 semester until that documentation is provided. Required documentation or questions should be e-mailed to Health Services at healthservices@westfield.ma.edu. Also, I encourage these students to visit theFall2021/COVID-19 webpage to familiarize themselves with current mandates and campus protocol updates.

 

In addition, Student Affairs and Admissions have been communicating the vaccine mandate and Westfield State’s other COVID-19 protocols to transfer students and other newly admitted students who will join our on-ground campus community in the spring. 

 

Booster Shots

As an additional mitigation effort, Westfield State strongly encourages the COVID-19 booster shot for all students; and there will be information shared in the coming weeks about it being mandated for faculty and staff. Faculty and staff who have already received their booster shots can share proof with Gozel Pshenichnaya in Human Resources via email— gpshenichnaya@westfield.ma.edu. Also, look for information sent by Health Services on future booster clinics open to both students and employees to be held on campus.

 

Continued Vigilance

I appreciate everyone’s continued vigilance with health and hygiene protocols, as well as the University’s indoor mask mandate. Please still be mindful of your role in mitigating any exposure to or spread of the virus, both on and off campus.

 

Thank you again for your cooperation to keep the full campus community safe. 

 

Warmly,
Linda

Fall 2021/Covid Archive