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University confirms in-person return to class, booster upload ready for use, IT problems with COVID-19 portal resolved

The university confirmed that in-person learning will resume on Feb. 1, according to an email sent on Jan. 26 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 for Student Affairs. This announcement comes after the university announced the first two weeks would be virtual with a tentative start to in-person learning on Feb. 1, according to a previous Hoot article. 

“We know that many of you are looking for reassurance that we will enjoy the semester we had planned, and we are very pleased to reconfirm that we WILL resume in-person classes on Feb. 1 as planned,” reads the email. 

Students have already begun traveling back to campus, according to the email, and the rest of the student body is expected to be moved in by Jan. 31. The administrators wrote to community members to provide updates as they are “closely monitoring developments” to ensure the community’s safety. 

Classes scheduled to meet in person on Workday will begin on Feb. 1, according to the email, and masks will be required for students and instructors. The university will be following the mask mandate outlined by the City of Waltham which requires community members to be masked in communal indoor settings. The administrators encouraged, but did not enforce, community members to use N95s, KN95s or KF94s since they “are more effective at stopping the spread and are far more commercially available than at the beginning of the pandemic.”

In the email, community members were informed that free masks are expected to be issued by the federal government soon at local pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. 

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Brandeis International Business School are also scheduled to resume in person learning on Feb. 1. According to the email, graduate students will be receiving information specific to their schools in separate communications.
In the email, students were encouraged to utilize the grab-and-go meal options when possible to reduce the capacities in the dining hall to allow for easier social distancing and reduced density. Indoor gatherings will also be restricted from serving food or drinks, changes will come to these policies when public health indicators deem it is safe to do so, according to the email. 

The booster shot documentation page is up and running, students can upload their booster shot information in Medicat. Faculty and staff will be able to upload their documentation starting on Feb. 2 via the university’s Campus passport portal. Community members were expected to receive their booster by Jan. 25 if they were eligible. 

The university will be hosting another round of booster shot clinics on campus to get the Brandeis community and the greater Waltham community vaccinated, according to the email. Community members can make appointments using the university’s pharmacy partner Vaccinate Rx’s portal, clinics will be held on Feb 1, 9 and 16, according to the email. 

Students who test positive throughout the semester may have to isolate in their rooms, rather than being sent to isolation housing due to availability of space in isolation housing. Students will be informed of whether they are moving to isolation housing or remaining in their dorms on a case by case basis by their contact tracer. 

If students have conflicts with quizzes and exams due to being put in isolation or quarantine, they may contact Student Accessibility Support to help assist in communicating with professors regarding the situation. 

“We are seeing very encouraging signs that the Omicron wave is subsiding; positive cases are trending sharply downward in Massachusetts and on campus, and we look forward to shifting back to a less-restrictive environment,” reads the email. 

Information Technology Services (ITS) acknowledged community members’ problems with the Campus Passport Portal with the ‘Schedule COVID Testing’. The issue was noted by ITS on Jan. 24, stating that, “ITS is aware that users are expecting slowness when trying to access the ‘Schedule COVID Testing’ page. We recommend keeping the webpage open to allow the system time for it to load.” The issue was resolved on Jan. 25. 


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