- Published Date:
- Categories: Bison S.A.F.E.: University Pandemic Response
Dear Howard University Students,
Happy New Year! We hope you have enjoyed your holiday break with friends and family and are preparing to return to campus for the first day of classes on Monday, January 9, 2023. As students prepare to return to campus and the D.C. area, please be cognizant of outbreaks of influenza, COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) occurring in various parts of the country. The resulting "tridemic," as healthcare experts call it, has caused increasing respiratory illnesses, as it is possible for someone to be infected by two or more viruses simultaneously.
We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 status (confirmed hospitalizations, changes in severity, positive test rates, development of virus variants, etc.) in the Washington, D.C., area and on campus. To date, we have not observed any significant hospitalizations or severe COVID-19 cases among faculty, staff, or students. Based on our current knowledge of the virus and its variants, in addition to guidance from public health officials, as well as the ongoing "tridemic," we will continue to implement the following protocols:
- Wearing a mask will be optional inside University-owned or operated buildings, including libraries, offices, dining facilities, residential buildings, and fitness centers. Faculty may continue to require masks for individual classes, and masks will continue to be required in healthcare-related facilities, patient care clinical and training settings, clinics, and HUH. Wearing a N95 or KN95 mask indoors in all situations is strongly encouraged.
- Everyone has the right to wear a mask whenever and wherever they wish on our campuses (inside or outside).
- Up-to-date vaccinations are required for all students and staff. This includes full COVID-19 vaccination and at least one booster if indicated.
- While medical and religious exemptions will continue to be honored, all students living in residential housing MUST provide evidence of vaccination prior to move-in by the established deadline.
- Students may only be allowed to register for classes if they provide proof of vaccination and boosters or receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
- Testing will be available for symptomatic individuals and anyone requesting testing.
- Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Testing will be provided Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stokes Health Sciences Library.
- The Student Health Center will continue to provide care for symptomatic students.
- Quarantine rooms will be provided for dormitory residents who test positive for COVID.
We will continue to monitor public health conditions on our campuses, in the District of Columbia, and nationally. Depending on community transmission levels, the severity of infection, hospitalization rates, or other risks (e.g., a new variant) in the future, we may reinstate the indoor mask requirement and/or incorporate other restrictions as needed. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Contact tracing expansion;
- Resumption of broader surveillance testing;
- Change in course delivery format;
- Cancellation or changing the format of certain events.
The most important message we can communicate is that vaccinations are the most effective measure in preventing severe COVID-19 cases and decreasing the risk of hospitalization. Up-to-date vaccination status will continue to be mandatory, and each member of the community is required to provide their vaccination status indicated by initial vaccination documentation or evidence of vaccination plus a booster as warranted!
Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation as we continue to work together to keep our community safe, and we will continue to keep the community informed of important health information. Best wishes for a successful Spring 2023 semester!
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph. Hugh Mighty, MD, MBA
Provost & Chief Academic Officer Senior Vice President of Health Affairs