Staying Vigilant, Getting Vaccinated: Countdown to the Fall 2021 Semester
Dear Morgan Community,
With the summer months in full swing and many of you finding a respite to enjoy all that summertime brings, please know that our leadership team at Morgan has been dutifully working towards fully returning to campus and resuming normal operations at the National Treasure!
To that end, please allow me this opportunity to remind our Morgan Community of a number of key actions that have been taken to ensure our safe return to campus and kicking off a successful fall semester. As I communicated to the campus community this past spring, Morgan will be implementing a phased, full reopening beginning this summer, and in alignment with higher education institutions nationwide, we are requiring a full COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff and students by August 1, 2021, prior the start of the fall semester.
We’ve come too far and are too close to reclaiming some semblance of normalcy to let our guard down now. We must keep our focus on the bigger picture and remain vigilant. We must do all that we can to protect ourselves—and our community—and that means that everyone must get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is our best hope towards restoring the active bustling campus life, engaging in face-to-face academic instruction, and simply benefiting from the full-bodied experience of what we have all grown to love and expect from being part of the Morgan family.
Despite what some may believe, COVID-19 has not been eradicated. In fact, in some areas of the country, cases are on the rise, exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta variant. According to recent data, more than 99% of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Facts are important. That is why I encourage everyone within our community to visit the University’s COVID-19 page on our website. It is updated regularly to reflect the most current information surrounding protocols, expectations and requirements for a safe and healthy campus environment. Chief among the available information you will find is how to verify your vaccination status, so that you can compliantly return to campus; how to apply for a medical or religious exemption; how to download and utilize the GatherSmart App for self-screening and monitoring on campus; and lastly, where to take the SafetySkills COVID-19 Awareness Training.
In short, the best strategy is to get fully vaccinated and to make sure that you are verified. Vaccinations are the only way that we are going to achieve herd immunity.
Getting a full vaccination means:
- Not having to wear a mask indoors or outside (unless you want to).
- Not needing to be tested regularly or enrolled in the testing protocol.
- Not having to go through quarantine should you come into contact with someone with COVID-19 (unless you are positive and display COVID symptoms).
- Being able to fully take advantage of all of the amenities available on campus.
If you are not fully vaccinated and have received an approved exemption, you:
- Must wear a mask indoors at all times as well as when outdoors in crowded spaces.
- Must be enrolled in the COVID-19 testing protocol and submit to regular, twice per week mandatory testing.
- Must present a negative COVID-19 result prior to returning to campus this fall.
For students without a full vaccination or an approved exemption, you will not be able to attend in-person classes or reside in university-managed housing and should not participate in any on-campus events and activities. For faculty and staff without a full vaccination or an approved exemption, or failure to comply with masking and testing protocols, the matter may be referred to the Office of Human Resources for review and potential disciplinary actions.
In understanding that not everyone may be able to return to class in-person, the fall schedule is in the process of being updated to reflect courses that will be taught in a “flex” mode. Morgan-Flex courses are face-to-face courses with a real-time, remote content streaming component. The availability of these designated Morgan-Flex course sections will be identified by the placement of an “M” in the course section number in Websis/Student Self Service (example: HIST 101.M01). Further information pertaining to Morgan-Flex will be made available via the COVID-19 FAQ page by July 23, and most updates regarding Morgan-Flex courses will be reflected in Websis/Student Self Service by July 30.
Additional dates of note to be mindful of include:
- June 29, 2021 – Announcement made to University employees that Phase I of the return to campus was underway. Units responsible for preparing for the arrival and enrollment of students for the fall semester requested to return.
- July 16, 2021 – The last day in which to receive your second vaccination dose or Johnson & Johnson single dose, before the August 1st, Phase I deadline for returning employees. All employees must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to their return-to-campus date.
- August 1, 2021 – Faculty, staff and students are asked to Upload Proof of Vaccination to the secure University portal.
- August 2, 2021 – Phase II of employee return begins and will include all faculty and staff who had not returned earlier in preparation to welcome our students to a new academic year.
Pivoting from our traditional modality and way of campus life in the Spring of 2020 required a monumental effort to make it happen while keeping campus operations going. And the full reopening of the campus requires a matching effort, maybe more, along with the coordination of many critical moving parts. For their roles in getting us to this point, I acknowledge and thank the members of the Vaccination Management Team, Morgan Campus Health Monitoring and Response Team (MCHMRT), Re-socialization & Re-acculturation Committee and MSU’s Office of Human Resources, for without their ongoing dedication and commitment, this would not be possible.
In closing, please enjoy your summer break, remember to practice safe and healthy habits, and get vaccinated! I look forward to seeing you all in the fall.
Reunite. Respect. Renew.
David K. Wilson,