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In-person classes to resume

In-person classes to resume

Michelle Tedford July 21, 2021

Vaccination challenge surpasses 70% immunization

Campus will largely return to pre-pandemic conditions — with a few exceptions — because the University community surpassed the 70% goal for vaccinations established by the Build Immunity in the Community Challenge, the level of immunization needed to plan for a fall semester where restrictions are eased so that campus life returns to a more normal state.

student with vaccine cardTo participate in the challenge, students, faculty and staff uploaded their vaccination cards to a confidential portal or privately shared them with a member of the health team. Those who submitted their vaccine information prior to July 1 were entered into drawings for incentives such as bookstore swag, basketball tickets or a pass for President Eric F. Spina’s parking space.

Campus reached the 70% goal July 8, with the number immunized continuing to rise. While vaccinations are not mandated, vaccination continues to be strongly recommended. Spina said he believes the campus community will continue to make personal decisions that also benefit and help protect the wider community.

“We have faith in our people — faculty, staff and students — that they will do the right thing so we can return fully to the kind of close-knit, close-together community that we really value,” he said during the spring faculty meeting. The vaccine will be available on campus the week of Aug. 16, coinciding with move-in and the start of classes Aug. 23.

In consultation with UD’s medical advisory panel, University leaders set a goal of 70% vaccination of students, faculty and staff, which would achieve a minimum level of immunity needed to ease restrictions. Restrictions that were eased included:

  • Removing the general mask requirement, with an understanding that masking still continues to be a valuable form of protection for those at higher risk of infection and should continue for people who are not fully vaccinated. Masking will continue in clinical and other settings where necessary.
  • Returning to full capacity classrooms, meeting rooms, dining facilities, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception and UD Arena.
  • Opening University residence halls to guests.
  • Allowing student organizations to resume activities.
  • Allowing more competitions and travel for club and intramural sports.
  • Allowing in-person, on-campus events — such as Family Weekend, Speaker Series, Career Fair, Stander Symposium and Marian Library tours — to resume.
  • Permitting spectators for on-campus performances and recreational activities.

“We all very much want in-person classrooms, in-person teaching and all of the things we’ve been missing during the last 18 months,” said Robin Oldfield, associate vice president of audit, risk and compliance. She noted plans will continue to evolve based on the pandemic and public health protocols.

Spina acknowledged that the efforts and sacrifices of UD’s campus community allowed many in-person classes during a pandemic year that relegated other universities to remote studies only.

“We’ve shown we can respond in the most difficult times as a community. We’ve shown agility. We’ve shown great intelligence. And we’ve leaned into our values and our principles, as well as the center of the University, our Marianist charism,” he said.

The key to fall semester success, is vaccinations, he added.

First dose of hope