Continuing with resiliency and perseverance
Dear RIT Community,
From the start of this COVID-19 pandemic, our community — students, faculty, and staff — have faced adversity and personal disruption. Yet, you all have responded with unparalleled resolve and resilience. You have diligently followed our rules and guidelines, which has kept our community safe. As Omicron variant cases are rising around us, we are preparing for a new chapter. We remain committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for Spring Semester.
We are living in a dynamic and fluid situation. We understand there will be challenges in the coming weeks. We know there will be inevitable increases in the numbers of COVID-19 cases on campus. Yet perhaps most important, we have tools today we did not have a year ago. We are deploying our contingency plans and will continue to adjust our policies and practices as new information becomes available and circumstances dictate.
Let me reiterate some of the highlights outlined in Wednesday’s announcement.
- We remain committed to an in-person start of the Spring Semester on Monday, Jan. 10th.
- We highly recommend getting a COVID-19 test before returning to campus.
- We now are requiring a booster vaccine.
- We will continue the indoor face mask mandate and strongly encourage the doubling up of surgical and cloth masks and the use of KN95 masks. We have a supply of surgical masks on hand and are procuring KN95s.
- We will continue our wastewater surveillance as an early detection tool and measure of trends, both up and down.
In response to the evolving pandemic, we are making the following additional changes for the start of the semester:
- Guests will not be allowed in university housing.
- Spaces for isolation and quarantine will be increased.
- Robust take-out options for dining will be provided.
We expect there will be some operational challenges in the first few weeks. We are prepared to adapt our programs, services, procedures, and policies in a manner that will support the health of our community, academic continuity, and an active campus environment.
We are aware that some universities are delaying their start or are starting online. Because we draw students from across the nation, and different parts of the country will have their Omicron peaks at different times, we have decided not to try to time our opening in response to any particular peak. Furthermore, we remind our community that our classrooms have been especially safe.
There is good reason for optimism.
Learning to live with COVID-19 is not easy, but our community has demonstrated a keen ability to get it right. We are very highly vaccinated. We invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades to our facilities at the start of the pandemic. Furthermore, our broad surveillance testing through wastewater will help guide the imposition of any possible new measures.
The spring dashboard will launch on the first day of classes. It will include the addition of COVID-19 hospitalization cases in order to shift our focus from number of cases to severity of illness. With our high vaccination rate and booster requirement, we expect most cases that arise will have mild symptoms.
Our campus community must come together more than ever and be prepared to adapt and change. Our patience may be tested. We may encounter reduced hours in some campus offices/operations due to staffing challenges, and it may be necessary to make temporary shifts in course modalities or other adjustments. But we will persevere.
The administrative team is meeting daily to monitor the evolving situation. Please take the time to review our updated guidelines in the RIT Safety Plan, as this is a “living document.” We will continue to update the RIT Ready website, including newly updated “Frequently Asked Questions” that are updated regularly.
Our community continues to amaze me. Thank you for your cooperation during these challenging times. We so appreciate all your efforts.
David Munson, President