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COVID-19 end of semester update sent out by the COVID Advisory Team

Clara Nithiaparan

Staff Writer

The COVID Advisory Team sent out a COVID-19 end-of-semester update via email to the Willamette Community on Dec. 10, focusing on: A summary of the semester, the COVID-19 booster and the face covering policy.

graphic by Maizy Goerlitz

Summarizing the semester, they thanked the community for its “diligence and thoughtfulness in protecting the wellbeing of our campus communities throughout the pandemic”, adding that the community’s adherence to COVID-19 mitigation policies and measures ensured the prevention of a large spread of infections. They noted that there were a total of 50 cases on the Salem campus and four cases on the Portland campus, that the Bishop Wellness Center tested more than 300 students who had COVID-19 related symptoms during the course of the semester which revealed a 5.9% positivity rate, and that the center tested nearly 500 students who didn’t have symptoms but were identified as close contacts which revealed a 1.3% positivity rate. They further noted that these low positivity rates reflect the “fact that we are a fully-vaccinated campus, as [defined] by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”.

Regarding the COVID-19 booster, and concerns with the Omicron Variant, they recommended all vaccinated members of the community to receive a booster shot if eligible, noting that everyone over 18 years of age is eligible to receive a booster shot “at six months or more after their initial series.” Currently, Willamette students are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend in-person classes (except for medical exemptions), but the third booster is not currently required. They noted that they will continue to monitor the variant and guidance and that they “will make a decision about requiring the booster should the need arise.”

Regarding the Face Covering policy, face coverings will continue to be required in all indoor facilities regardless of vaccination status. In tandem with the state’s decision to rescind its outdoor mask mandate, masks are not required in outdoor settings. However, they noted that “Wearing masks is still strongly recommended for people at a higher risk from COVID”, and that masks are recommended for people in crowded outdoor settings.

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