Academic Year 2021–2022: COVID-19 Pandemic Plan

For the academic year 2021–2022, Allegheny College plans to fully reopen for on-campus living and learning accompanied by, and subject to, ongoing guidance from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education, federal agencies and public health, and epidemiological, scientific and medical experts. As we move forward, our pandemic plan will be based on appropriate health practices, the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and Allegheny’s commitment to academic quality and supporting the best possible student experience.

College students live and learn in closer proximity to each other than the general public. A high percentage of vaccinated persons on campus and careful day-to-day behaviors will limit the spread of disease on our campus.

The Allegheny College Health Agency (ACHA) will continue to provide guidance to the President on vaccination, testing, contact tracing, and mitigation strategies for our community. Membership in the ACHA has evolved; membership continues to be fluid as our knowledge of the virus evolves and different priorities emerge in how the campus adapts.

The College continues to prioritize the health and physical and emotional safety of our campus community, while also recognizing the risks associated with the close physical community of a college campus. We maintain our commitment to equity and diversity and to equal access for all students to academic, social and wellness resources available at the College.

Vaccine Policy

Students: Allegheny College requires all students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to campus. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Getting vaccinated protects you and protects others. Every student will need to verify with ACHA that they are fully vaccinated prior to their arrival. Students returning to campus from areas where it is difficult to obtain the vaccine should email healthagency@allegheny.edu so that we can help you return to campus safely and obtain one of the vaccines that are available here in Meadville.

Employees: The College highly encourages faculty and staff to be vaccinated as soon as they are able and to report their vaccination status to ACHA.

Gators respect each other’s unique position and each other’s privacy. Do not ask others if they are vaccinated, or why or why not. If you feel unsafe around others, put on your mask, keep your distance and email ACHA with your concerns.

Vaccine Exemptions

Allegheny students were given the opportunity to apply for religious or medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine; the application deadline for AY2021–2022 has passed. The deadline will be extended for new first-year and transfer students who join the Allegheny community this summer.

Unvaccinated Students on Campus

Unvaccinated students are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming severely ill, as well as transmitting COVID-19 to other students, employees, and community members, even those who are vaccinated. These risks are increased as we progress to an unmasked campus without physical distancing.

Unvaccinated students fall into the following three categories:

  • Exempt Students (A): These students are expected to remain unvaccinated for the entire semester. Please contact ACHA if your vaccine status changes.
  • Students Unable to Receive Vaccine due to their summer location (B): Any student in this situation must email ACHA immediately to register as being in this category. ACHA will help this small group of students schedule and attend their vaccination appointment, including transportation. Initial vaccination dose must be completed within one week of arrival on campus. Students are considered fully immunized two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine. These students will follow the guidelines for unvaccinated persons until they achieve immunity. ACHA will confirm this date.
  • Other (C): Unvaccinated students who arrive for move-in who do not fall into the category listed above and will not be given their room keys or allowed to participate in classes.
    • If unvaccinated students have not obtained a pre-arrival PCR test, they must leave campus to obtain a PCR test off campus, quarantine off campus until they receive a negative result and obtain the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The College will provide advice and direction but will not provide quarantine housing or transportation. When those steps are completed, the student will be given room keys during the next move-in session.
    • If unvaccinated students have obtained a pre-arrival PCR test with a negative result, they may immediately go to a local pharmacy to obtain the first dose of the vaccine (transportation will not be provided). Once ACHA has reviewed vaccine documentation, the student will be given a PCR test and room keys. If the move-in session for the day has completed, room keys will be distributed during the next move-in session, at which point the student will receive their second PCR test.
    • Students who fail to complete the above steps will not be permitted to attend classes. If the above steps are not completed by August 23, students will be placed on an involuntary leave of absence for the Fall 2021 semester.
    • Students are considered fully immunized two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine or two weeks after a single dose vaccine. The student will follow the guidelines for unvaccinated persons until they achieve immunity. ACHA will confirm this date.

Guidelines for unvaccinated students at move-in:

All unvaccinated students (Categories A, B and C) must:

  • Quarantine off campus for seven days before traveling to campus. This can be done in the student’s home.
  • Obtain a PCR test no more than five days prior to move-in, off campus. They may obtain their own test or contact ACHA for an at-home test.
  • Take a second PCR test on campus through ACHA.
  • Quarantine in their room until second PCR test results as negative. The student may only leave room to pick up food.

Guidelines for unvaccinated students and employees while on campus:

  • Must wear a mask at all times while indoors (and outdoors when in a crowd), even when others are permitted to be unmasked;
  • Remain physically distanced from others at all times;
  • In the classroom, must wear a mask and physically distance;
  • Participate in mandatory weekly testing for COVID-19 while on campus;
  • Delay travel until you are vaccinated. *

* Travel is one of the biggest risk factors for transmission of COVID-19. The College will not sponsor, pay for or authorize any College-related travel for unvaccinated persons. This means that unvaccinated persons may not travel for any College-related events (including athletic competitions, academic conferences, performances, etc.). Unvaccinated persons traveling for personal reasons must quarantine off campus for seven days and then provide a negative PCR test result from an off-campus medical facility before returning to campus. Unvaccinated students may attend field trips related directly to classroom work that do not include an overnight component; they will be required to mask throughout. Please contact ACHA, copying your professor, for advice on safe participation in course-related field trips.

As you schedule your return to campus for Fall 2021, if you are unvaccinated, please plan to quarantine off campus for seven days before traveling to campus and obtain a PCR test for no more than five days prior to your move-in date. When you arrive for move-in, plan to quarantine for 24-36 hours in your room as you wait for your on-campus PCR test to result. You may leave only to pick up food.

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Masks

Vaccinated students and employees are welcome to participate in indoor and outdoor activities without masks, including in classrooms, extracurricular activities, dining halls and athletics.

We may be required to change this policy at any time, based on COVID-19 case rates.

Unvaccinated employees and students must wear masks indoors at all times when on campus.

One exception – move-in days: Move-in days will include large numbers of friends and families on campus. Please limit your helpers to two persons, preferably vaccinated persons. We will not be checking the vaccination status of family and friends. Therefore, on all move-in days, masks are mandatory for all campus community members and their guests while on campus, inside and outside. Primary move-in days are August 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you have received formal authorization by Residence Life for an early move-in, the same regulations will apply.

You will still see masked persons on campus. Some people will continue wearing their masks by choice, despite being vaccinated. Others will be complying with the College’s policy for unvaccinated persons. Regardless of vaccine status, if you feel ill, it is always a good idea to wear your mask. Gators are compassionate and do not ask others about mask choices. If you are concerned or feel unsafe, email ACHA. We are here to help.

Face shields do not capture one’s viral particles and cannot serve as a substitute for a mask.

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Physical Distancing

The CDC no longer recommends physical distancing for vaccinated persons. Allegheny College classrooms, workspaces, dining rooms, and other gathering spaces can now be used by vaccinated students and employees without physical distancing.

Guidance for unvaccinated persons on campus: avoid congregating in common areas. Maintain physical distancing while in the classroom and in workspaces. Apply physical distancing principles when participating in close-contact activities, including athletics and theatre or music ensembles, in order to reduce the risk of disease spread among participants.

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Campus Quarantine

There is no planned “campus quarantine” for the academic year 2021–2022.

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Testing for COVID-19: Move-in

All students will report to the Wise Center for testing on their assigned move-in day. The testing protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons are different.

Vaccinated students will receive an antigen (rapid) test. Once they receive a negative result, they may immediately join in all campus activities. There is no quarantine for vaccinated students. One exception: vaccinated students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or recent household contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 will receive a PCR test. These students will quarantine in their room, leaving only to pick up food, and may join in all campus activities once that test results as negative, likely within 24 hours.

Guidelines for unvaccinated students at move-in:

All unvaccinated students (Categories A, B and C) must:

  • Quarantine off campus for seven days before traveling to campus. This can be done in the student’s home.
  • Obtain a PCR test no more than five days prior to move-in, off campus. They may obtain their own test or contact ACHA for an at-home test.
  • Take a second PCR test on campus through ACHA.
  • Quarantine in their room until second PCR test results as negative. Student may only leave room to pick up food to eat in their room.

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Testing for COVID-19: During the semester

While the initial Allegheny College Pandemic Plan was to test students and employees one to two times per semester, that plan was made before the delta variant became prevalent. We are now testing the entire campus population every two weeks. This will ensure early detection of COVID-19, which will prevent an outbreak on campus and allow us to continue with our robust in-person experience.

Unvaccinated students and employees will participate in mandatory weekly testing. This will protect the whole community given our decrease in restrictions, including limited masking on campus.

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Illness Policy

Vaccinated students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will receive a medical evaluation. If deemed necessary, students will receive a rapid antigen COVID-19 test and may participate in campus activities after a negative result. Please contact the Winslow Health Center or ACHA if you feel ill.

Unvaccinated students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will receive a medical evaluation. If deemed necessary, students will receive a rapid antigen COVID-19 test and a PCR test. Students will quarantine in their rooms until the PCR test results. They may participate in campus activities after a negative result. Please contact the Winslow Health Center or ACHA if you feel ill.

Vaccinated employees who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should consult their medical provider for advice. Please contact ACHA if you need further direction.

Unvaccinated employees who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home until they receive a negative PCR test off-campus. Please contact ACHA if you need further direction.

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Contact Tracing, Quarantine and Isolation

ACHA will continue to manage contact tracing with the assistance of Allegheny College employees who have obtained the Johns Hopkins Contact Tracing Certification. All contact tracing is confidential.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 by an antigen test will receive a PCR test. They will remain in isolation, either at home off campus or at the Quality Inn, until the PCR test results are negative. If the PCR result is positive, the student will remain in isolation for ten days or longer if symptoms do not appear to be improving. Medical care will be available during isolation.

Given the highly contagious nature of the delta variant of the coronavirus, Allegheny College is following the protocol below for vaccinated close contacts of persons who test positive for COVID-19.

  • For seven days after exposure, close contacts:
  • May come to campus, attend class in person, and work in person
  • Indoors: must remain masked and physically distanced at all times
  • Outdoors: must remain masked when outdoors in a group (of more than 1 person)
  • Dining: should not eat in the dining halls; we encourage eating outside or in your room
  • Extracurriculars: may participate in extracurricular activities but must remain masked and physically distanced as described above
  • May use the Wise Center but must remain masked and physically distanced while exercising
  • Will be tested on days 5 and 7 post-exposure. Once both tests are negative, the close contact may resume all normal activities on campus without a mask or distancing.

Contacts of COVID-19 positive persons who are unvaccinated are required to quarantine for 14 days. Fourteen days is the recommended length of time for those who live in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and college campuses. There is no option to shorten quarantine with a COVID-19 test.

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Mitigating Disease Transmission on Campus

Mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be in place across campus. The health of the community is built on the health of each community member. The “Gator Pledge” remains in place, and all community members are required to adhere to it, much like our Honor Code and Code of Conduct. We work together to create a culture of health and safety and mutual care.

Daily Health Screen

The daily health screen has been discontinued. Please self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact your healthcare provider or ACHA with any questions or concerns.

Frequent Handwashing

Frequent handwashing is a useful tool to limit transmission of any infectious disease. All members of the community should wash their hands frequently throughout the day. Proper washing technique and the amount of time spent washing are most important. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. No special soap is needed to wash away the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) should be used. Hand sanitizer is available throughout campus.

Frequent Cleaning and Maintaining a Healthy Campus Environment

Guidance from the CDC tells us that COVID-19 degrades quickly on surfaces. St. Moritz staff will resume pre-pandemic cleaning procedures. The College will continue to provide disinfectant wipes for those who prefer to wipe down tables, desks or shared items before classes or in public spaces.

Dining Services

Brooks and McKinley’s will be open for sit-down dining. Much of the disposable items have been discontinued. Reusable items will be handled by dining service staff wearing gloves and washed in hot water/dishwasher. Self-service options at Brooks have been reinstated. Buffets continue to be on hold for now.

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Travel

Vaccinated Persons – General Travel:

Vaccinated employees and students are not required to quarantine when returning to campus after traveling but should register their travel here and are required to obtain a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after traveling.

Unvaccinated Persons – College-sponsored travel:

The CDC recommends that unvaccinated persons delay travel until they are fully vaccinated. Given that unvaccinated persons are at higher risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others, the College will not sponsor any travel for unvaccinated students or employees.

Unvaccinated Persons – Personal travel

Unvaccinated students and employees who must travel for personal reasons must follow CDC guidelines, which recommend a PCR test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Quarantine is not available for students on campus. Students will need to arrange and pay for their own hotel space to quarantine. Please submit your travel plans to ACHA.

Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break and Spring Break:

We expect high travel rates among our vaccinated students and employees during these breaks. Travel includes overnight travel or day travel to attend events with multiple persons.

  • Vaccinated travelers: upon return, antigen testing at the Wise Center. Times and dates of testing will be announced. No quarantine is required for these persons.
  • Unvaccinated travelers: these travelers must obtain a PCR test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Employees may quarantine at home. Quarantine housing is no longer available for students on campus. Students will need to arrange and pay for their own hotel space to quarantine. Isolation housing for ill students will still be arranged through the College at the Quality Inn.

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Community-based Research, Internship, Class Project, Volunteer Experiences, and Employment

Vaccinated and unvaccinated students are discouraged from participating in off-campus activities and employment to best protect themselves and those they come into contact with. However, with precautions, including wearing a mask, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing, they are allowed to do so.

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Visitors to Campus

Given that COVID-19 is easily transmitted from person-to-person and that our goal for this academic year is to provide a safe, residential liberal arts educational experience for our students, our visitor policy will be limited. All visitors to campus will be required to adhere to the health and safety protocols in place, including Trustees and Alumni Council while on campus.

College-sponsored campus visitors who provide a negative test within three days of arrival on campus or take a rapid test at the Wise Center on the day of their arrival do not need to wear their masks indoors. Large-scale events with College-sponsored visitors, such as Blue & Gold Weekend, will require masking of all participants indoors.

Classroom visitors:

Vaccinated persons may visit classrooms. They are required to be masked at all times. Unvaccinated visitors are not permitted in classrooms. Community members who are registered for a class or to participate in music ensembles or other course-related activities must remain masked at all times indoors while on campus.

Vaccinated friends and family:

Vaccinated friends and family are welcome for day visits only. No overnight guests are allowed in residence halls. Vaccinated friends and family must remain masked while inside College buildings. Please register your visitors by sending their vaccine card to ACHA prior to their visit. No COVID-19 test is required for vaccinated friends and family. Please advise friends and family to self-monitor for symptoms and to stay home if they feel ill.

Unvaccinated friends and family:

Unvaccinated friends and family are welcome for day visits to campus. No overnight visits are permitted. No COVID-19 test is required. Unvaccinated visitors are not permitted inside buildings unless attending a formal event, as detailed below, and should wear masks at all times while on campus.

Performances and Events:

Allegheny community members are welcome to have vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors at theatrical performances, orations, athletic events and other activities that include an observational component.

  • Outdoor events: masks not required for vaccinated persons but are required for unvaccinated persons
  • Indoor events: masks are required for all attendees. Vaccinated performers are not required to wear masks while performing.

Other visitors:

The vaccine status of prospective students and their families will not be checked. Candidates for faculty or administrative positions will not have their vaccine status checked. Athletics recruits visiting campus must register through the Admissions Office to ensure that prospective students and their families receive proper registration materials.

Pelletier Library and the Wise Center will be open to vaccinated local community members.

The Meadville Children’s Center and Meadville Cooperative Preschool will continue to maintain their own entrance/exit to the Odd Fellows Building.

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Communication

Communicating the College’s strategy for creating and maintaining a culture of health and safety on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority. Details of our plan are included here. We will use emails to the campus community as well as social media, the College website and the ALERTAllegheny system, as appropriate, to keep our communities up to date and informed.

Allegheny’s COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated weekly during the semester.

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