We continue to learn how to live with the realities of COVID-19. Our strict adherence to established protocols have helped us to safely do so since March of 2020. As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we will follow the CDC and local health guidelines this Spring 2022 semester, taking into account that as a highly-engaged residential campus, our conservative and cautious approach has served us well. The FAQs listed below are from a campus-wide forum on Zoom held on Thursday, January 14, 2022.

Arrival Testing 

Students with COVID symptoms (such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, or nasal congestion) should stay home and get tested via a PCR test or at-home antigen test prior to returning to campus. They should notify the Health Center via email (healthcenter@springfield.edu) of their positive test result (email the date of the test and a photo of the results) and their faculty of their absence.

All residential students are required to undergo a COVID-19 test upon move-in. Students will be required to wear their mask indoors and outdoors and may not attend classes until their on-campus arrival test confirms a negative status. It is the responsibility of students to notify their faculty of their absence. Unvaccinated individuals will wear their masks at all times. Unvaccinated individuals are still required to undergo weekly on-campus testing.

All students arriving from outside of the United States (vaccinated and unvaccinated) and all unvaccinated individuals are required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test (not antigen) taken within one week (preferably 72 hours) of arriving on campus. Students who do not comply will need to make arrangements to stay off campus or quarantine until they receive a negative result from their arrival test.

Optional PCR testing is available once a week to all students and employees when the Testing Center is open (Mondays 10am-3:30pm, Tuesdays/Thursdays 8:30am-3:30pm). No appointment is needed. The Testing Center is located at the PE Annex (239 Wilbraham Avenue) next to Towne Health Center.

Rapid testing at the Health Center is available to all symptomatic students on campus. Please call the Health Center for an appointment and you will be provided with the next available appointment.

Additional Questions

Many schools are starting the semester virtually, why is Springfield College remaining in person? 
We believe that the protocols in place allow campus to open safely. We are committed to providing our students with high-quality academic experiences and we value the engagement that occurs in our classrooms and on our campus with our faculty and staff.

Because students cannot attend an in-person class until they receive their test results, what if the results are not received in time for their scheduled class? Do they need to reach out to their professor? Are professors aware that students may need to miss the first class? 
The College will continue to evaluate test results as they come in and will make decisions related to remote teaching in real-time as necessary given the potential delay in testing results. As has been our practice, alternate plans for participation in classes will be made for students awaiting test results, or who are in isolation or quarantine. Faculty are empowered to make the decision, in consultation with their department chair, to move to a provisional virtual learning format, when pedagogically appropriate. Students should monitor their email and Brightspace pages for any notification of changes in modality for their courses this first week. Overall, our traditional student population has experienced relatively mild symptoms from the omicron variant and the combination of testing with other mitigation protocols, like masking, will allow in person classes to be held.

Will the college require students to wear KN95 or, at a minimum, medical-grade masks, because cloth masks are not effective against spreading the virus?
[Consistent with CDC guidance], Springfield College encourages students and employees to wear good-fitting KN95, KF94, or N95 masks. The College has masks available at various locations, including in the Campus Union, in Academic Affairs, and in the offices of the Deans of each of the four schools, should students, faculty, or staff wish to pick one up.

We know that wearing any mask helps stop the transmission of the virus, especially in indoor settings and is a key line of defense in helping us slow the spread of the virus.

When will non-Springfield College students (who are vaccinated and/or tested)  be allowed in the residence halls?
Restricting visitors from the residence halls is hopefully a short-term strategy for the beginning of the semester until the results of arrival testing have been received. We will revisit the decision based on positivity rates and other factors.

How will the omicron variant influence testing and quarantine/isolation protocols?
As of January 13, the quarantine and isolation protocols are unchanged. Those who test positive or who are identified as close contacts will quarantine or isolate for 10 days. Given our communal residential status, we have determined that keeping these protocols in place will be most effective at minimizing the spread of the virus.

I took a rapid test taken at home over the break and tested positive. Does this exempt me from the testing protocol for 90 days?
A positive test is a positive test. Those who test positive at home should notify the Health Center and provide a copy/image of the test along with the test date via email to healthcenter@springfieldcollege.edu. If students have not completed the 10-day isolation period, they are to remain at home and not return to campus until AFTER their isolation period (or quarantine period for those not vaccinated). We advise students to immediately reach out to their faculty to let them know of their status. This is an update to Springfield College protocol based on new guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Will virtual classes or alternatives for labs be offered for students who test positive?
In the same way as pre-pandemic, faculty members will work with students who are unable to attend a class session due to illness to make content available in a format/modality that is appropriate for the course. There are many ways these accommodations can be made and students should work directly with their course instructor. 

How will proper mask wearing be enforced on campus? 
As a community that cares deeply about one another, encouraging proper mask wearing is everyone's responsibility. Faculty are encouraged to ensure that students comply with masking requirements in the classroom, as are all other staff who interact with students, particularly in the residence halls. Students should also gently and respectfully ensure that peers are adhering to guidelines and are properly wearing tight-fitting masks over their mouth and nose. Faculty can complete a report of repeated improper mask usage through this form.

If the cases keep rising will the classes be online? 
We regularly evaluate a wide-range of COVID data to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of campus safety. The positivity rate is one data point among many; therefore, there is no minimum number of positive cases that would automatically trigger a move to online learning.

If students don't feel comfortable going to class, will online options be offered?
Courses are not being offered 100 percent online in the spring semester, however, in the same way as pre-pandemic, faculty members will work with students who are unable to attend a limited number of class sessions due to illness to make content available in a format/modality that is appropriate for the course. 

If everyone on campus has to be vaccinated and the booster is required, why are we still required to wear masks?
Experts say some disposable masks — especially tight-fitting KN95, KF94, and N95 masks — are particularly important in the face of omicron. Masking is just one strategy among many to help us slow the spread of the virus. Vaccines, boosters, and masks collectively help to reduce the risk of being infected with COVID. Currently, wearing masks indoors is also a requirement of the City of Springfield.

If I had COVID over the semester break, do I have to have my booster shot by March 1?
The CDC’s current guideline states that individuals are able to get their booster as soon as their isolation period ends and they are asymptomatic. The College will work with any individual who is unable to receive the booster because they are currently in isolation during the established March 1st deadline.

What if I am not eligible for the booster based on when I received my second dosage of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or my single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
Because final doses of the vaccine were received at various points of time, it is possible that a small number of people may not be eligible for the booster by March 1. In these cases, the College will work with eligible students and employees to establish a new deadline. We encourage everyone to get a booster as soon as they are eligible.

Can a booster shot be from a different manufacturer than the first two doses of the vaccine?
Yes. In the early stages of the pandemic, recommendations were for the same shots, but now experts say the vaccines can be interchangeable.

Will the College provide booster shots?
Two booster clinics will be held on campus on January 24 and 28 from 10 am - 2 pm at the Testing Center in the PE Annex (239 Wilbraham Avenue). The link for pre-registration will be emailed out.

Testing

What is the testing protocol for the Spring? 
We are planning to return in person on Wednesday, January 19th. Many students are already on campus and tested; however, a very significant number are arriving on Monday and Tuesday (1/17 and 18). To account for the increase in tests administered, we have arranged for an additional courier pick up to deliver tests to the Broad Institute, which will allow us to get some number of test results back sooner. We are closely monitoring the turnaround time of test results and will factor that into decision-making about the first day of classes.

Unvaccinated persons and student-athletes are part of an on-going testing protocol, just as they were in the fall. Optional testing is available for those who are interested in being tested. Testing is also available at the Health Center for those experiencing symptoms. 

Why are only non-vaccinated community members getting tested? 
Based on best practice guidance and the additional mitigation measures in place, on-going testing of the campus population is not necessary. Testing of the unvaccinated is an important component of our safety protocols to consistently monitor cases of the virus on campus. In accordance with NEWMAC guidelines, student-athletes are also tested regularly. Any student experiencing symptoms should also obtain a test, either through the Health Center or an at-home test.

Are commuter students required to get a COVID test prior to classes starting?
Students living off-campus (e.g., commuters) are not required to be tested prior to returning to campus; however,  students arriving from outside of the United States and any unvaccinated students (regardless of where they are arriving from) should produce a negative PCR test when they arrive, before their on-campus test. Any student experiencing symptoms should stay home and take a test, either through the Health Center or an at-home test. If the test is positive, they should notify the Health Center by emailing healthcenter@springfield.edu and include the date of the test and a photo of the results.

What steps are taking place to ensure safety in the classroom?
Masking protocols are in place to promote safety in the classroom and all indoor settings. In addition, we are making the best use of classroom configurations to reduce density and promote social distancing. Residential students are not permitted to attend class without a negative test. Students should not attend class if they are symptomatic and should immediately be tested. We have experienced little to no transmission of the virus in the classroom; but we will monitor this closely this spring due to the omicron variant. 

Is there a concern we will reach our campus isolation/quarantine capacity?
Not at this time. We have more spaces available than last year, if needed. We understand that many of our students chose to isolate themselves at home last semester and we believe that trend will continue. 

What if an employee tests positive? 
Protocols in place since the beginning of the pandemic will continue. Employees who test positive are required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Employees testing at the College who receive positive results will be included in the College's contact tracing protocol. Employees who are tested elsewhere will be contacted by their local department of health and should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider. Questions regarding remote work should be directed to the employee’s immediate supervisor. Please refer to the Telecommuting and Flexible Work Schedule Policy on PrideNet for additional information.

How will the College communicate any changes to policies and protocols?
Multiple channels of communication are used including email, social media, and the College’s COVID webpages. All members of the campus community are reminded that email is the primary method of communication. 

Is a recording of the Open Forum available?
Yes, the recording is posted on PrideNet and is available by clicking here.