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Letter to the Community: Testing and Vaccine Card Verification

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Dear Howard University Community, 

As our campus continues to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, it is vital that we remember that we are individually responsible for the wellbeing of ourselves and collectively responsible for the health of those around us. Our very ability to function as a university – at all times, but especially now – relies on each person’s willingness to hold themselves and others accountable. 

Overwhelmingly, the members of our community are adhering to the health and safety protocols established by the University.  

  • 5 percent campus-wide COVID-19 testing positivity rate over the past week; 

  • 34,554 daily symptom check attestations on the Bison SAFE app since January 18, 2022; 

  • 33,529 green passes approving users to enter campus;  

  • 1,010 yellow passes approving them to enter with caution; 

  • 15 red passes instructing them not to enter campus; and 

  • 19,295 users downloaded the Bison SAFE app and are subscribed to receive alerts this semester, an increase of more than 4,000 users from Fall 2021. 

There have been two reported cases of a student who was attempting to sell fake vaccine cards and another attempting to sell a negative PCR test. In swift and direct disciplinary response, one student was immediately expelled, and the other is currently going through the same judicial process. We are continuing to investigate accusations and encourage you to report any classmate you believe to be in possession of a fake card to the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@howard.edu or 240.861.4975. 

All student vaccine cards are collected in our student health center and are verified by our Med+Proctor system before being logged into the University. Beyond that process, our student health center does a second stage random sampling of at least 10 percent of the cards. The alleged widespread use of fake vaccination cards is not factual.  

It is also critical that we, clearly and without reservation, condemn the behavior of those individuals who have sought to or abetted others in falsifying their vaccination status. There is no excuse for this behavior, and we will not tolerate it. We will continue to vigilantly verify vaccine cards, and we expect everyone in our community to report any such suspicious or illegal activity. It is each person’s responsibility to report those who are not in compliance. 

Our vaccination requirement is one of many measures we have taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone on our campus. For these actions to have their desired effect requires the compliance of students, faculty and staff. There are a few inconsiderate students who act to undermine the collective efforts of the many students who diligently follow the health and safety protocols, and in so doing expose those on the campus to risks of COVID-19 infection. Vaccinations and mask wearing have significantly contributed to the low positivity rate experienced on this campus. We cannot allow the bad actions of a few to harm others.  

Individuals who do not abide by our weekly testing requirements will receive reminders, and if they fail to get tested, will face disciplinary action. Howard is one of a few universities in D.C. that has robust testing capability, and it is designed to keep us all safe. This is an essential mechanism in our effort to monitor and control the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.  We continue to apply a robust testing and tracking process that is designed to mitigate transmission of the virus. It is important to note that, of the 209 people who have tested positive, none to date have been hospitalized. 

To be a student, faculty or staff member at Howard is a privilege that comes with the responsibility to act in the best interest of everyone in our community. We are asking everyone to step up and say something if they observe any violations of our protocols and to be more diligent in abiding by the rules themselves. We all must have the courage to do the right thing when anyone in our community is knowingly disobeying our protocols.  

We recognize that this is a tense and anxious time in our society. Our ability to get through this moment and persevere depends on everyone acting as responsible stewards and citizens of our community. We must meet these challenges with a united front. We must all commit to upholding our responsibilities and acting in the best interest of our peers, colleagues and neighbors. 

Thank you for your cooperation and support. 

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Hugh Mighty, MD, MBA 
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs & Dean College of Medicine 

Cynthia Evers, Ed.D.  
Vice President for Student Affairs