We find ourselves again having to respond to the rapidly changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we watch cases and hospitalizations trend upward, individuals and institutions are having to make difficult decisions about how to balance safety measures with the goods of relationship and vocation.
Since March 2020 the seminary has been attentive to the progression of the disease and its impact on our community. We have adopted policies and practices intended to mitigate viral spread, to preserve the health of all on campus, and to fulfill our mission of formation in community. The decision to require vaccinations of faculty, students, and staff was made in order to make in-person instruction and worship safe this fall.
However, in view of the local increase in COVID-19 infection and hospitalizations, I write to inform you that the seminary has adopted the latest mask-wearing recommendation of local and national health authorities to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others.
Effective today, all persons regardless of their vaccination status are required to wear a mask indoors in public areas of campus facilities, including indoor common areas, classrooms, libraries, hallways, work rooms, and public assembly spaces. Outdoor masking is not required at this time by vaccinated persons.
A vaccinated person may only remove their mask indoors while consuming food or beverage or while occupying a private office.
An unvaccinated person must mask indoors in all spaces at all times, except when consuming food or beverage while socially distanced. Unvaccinated persons must wear masks outdoors.
Thanks to your positive response to the seminary’s vaccination requirement, 97% of the seminary community is vaccinated. This is a remarkable achievement, and it bears witness to the commitment each of you has shown to the health and wellbeing of your neighbors, your families, and yourselves. All of the data suggests that vaccinations continue to be extremely effective at preventing infection and mitigating symptoms. The recent rise in cases is almost entirely in the unvaccinated population. Our high vaccination rate sets us apart from those contexts in which the virus is spreading.
We will continue to monitor the rapidly changing data regarding vaccinations and infections, and we will revisit the seminary’s policies prior to the start of the fall semester.
I look forward to welcoming you to campus in August.