The university updated its COVID-19 policies for community members as they return to campus for the spring 2022 semester, according to an email sent on Dec. 20 by Carol A. Fierke, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stew Uretsky, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs. The university will also be adjusting its spectator policy for athletics events.
“Despite the Delta variant and the persistence of the pandemic, our campus maintained a remarkably low positivity rate thanks to our commitment to social solidarity,” wrote the administrators in the email.
Due to the circulation of the Omicron variant, the university will be carefully considering its current COVID-19 procedures and policies to adjust to the new risk of the variant, according to the email. The Omicron variant “will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta [variant] remains unknown,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) webpage. The CDC, at the time of publication, believes that those who develop the Omnicron will be able to spread the virus to others, regardless of their vaccination status or whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, according to the CDC’s webpage
“Since this pandemic began, the leadership at Brandeis has relied on a rigorous analysis of data and a careful review of guidance from health officials at state and federal levels to inform our decision making,” according to the email.
The new guidelines include that students living in on-campus housing will be required to take a COVID-19 rapid test or PCR test 24 hours prior to moving in for the spring 2022 semester, according to the email. To submit negative test results, students can visit the MyHousing portal to upload their results, according to the email.
The university will also encourage all other returning community members, including faculty, staff and off campus students, to test within 24 hours of departing to return to campus, according to the email. If any community member tests positive before their arrival to campus, they are required to isolate at home and not come to campus.
The university is encouraging community members to take rapid tests prior to coming to campus in order to keep the community safe and ensure they are not bringing COVID-19 to campus or to the testing locations on campus. In the email, the administrators reminded community members that our testing system is only for those who are asymptomatic.
Community members can receive rapid tests at local pharmacies and drugstores, including CVS and Walgreens, according to the email. The university also provided a list of resources to 40 FDA approved tests for COVID-19. “Plan ahead to be sure you have a rapid test on hand or have access to a testing site in order to test and receive results prior to your return to campus,” according to the email.
All residential students returning to campus are required to take a test at the university’s testing site upon arrival, according to the email. Students are to remain in a soft quarantine until they receive a negative test result. The turnaround time for receiving results is typically one day.
The university’s athletics department has also made alterations to its spectator policy on Dec. 31. Due to the local and national difficulties to receive PCR testing, the testing requirement to attend games has been changed from a negative test result 48 hours beforehand to 72 hours before the date of the competition, according to the athletics department’s page.
All Brandeis community members will be required to present a green passport upon entry to Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, according to the page. This is for both spectating and utilizing the facility. For non-Brandeis community members, they are required to present a negative PCR test result from 72 hours prior. Non-Brandeis community members cannot provide a vaccination card in place of the testing requirement, according to the page.
Individuals who tested positive in the last 90 days will have to provide proof of the date they tested positive in order to gain admittance to Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, according to the page.
Additional changes to the university’s COVID-19 policies may occur as the university continues to monitor the current conditions to ensure the safety of the Brandeis community, according to the email.