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Adjusting to New COVID Protocols

A note of thanks to all members of our Clark community for the high level of care and respect you’ve shown one other this week as we’ve made the adjustment to a test-optional and partially mask-optional campus, and as individuals choose the measures they believe best protect their health and safety.

We continue to closely track testing results. This week, our Healthy Clark Dashboard is showing 16 positive results and a higher positivity rate than previous weeks. Percentages have naturally increased with fewer people testing and therefore a smaller denominator in calculating positivity rates. We track positivity across residence halls, in academic courses, in employee departments, and on athletic teams where close contact may occur. The small clusters that we have seen in the past week appear to be driven primarily by social contact, and have resulted in additional tracking and notification of groups on campus that may have been exposed.

Nationally, more people are testing at home, fewer are experiencing symptoms, and fewer are testing in health care systems, which means that positivity rates are more difficult to interpret and less reliable indicators of overall Covid-19 levels. We now increasingly look to data and research about the severity of illness, hospitalizations and hospital capacity, and death rates. We continue to monitor a variety of sources, including the city of Worcester and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which publishes a COVID-19 dashboard that provides detailed data about hospitalizations and deaths, as well as regular updates about the nature of breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals.

We also follow wastewater data, when available, as an early indicator and assess information provided by public health officials and experts, including news regarding the nature and movement of any new variants.

For those who are interested, The New York Times is an excellent source for national and regional data, and you can build your own dashboard to track specific counties and metro areas. All Clark students, faculty, and staff can subscribe to the Times for free through Goddard Library.

If you are concerned about getting the virus, know that being fully vaccinated/boosted and wearing a high-grade mask remain very effective prevention tools. While breakthrough cases may occur, the severity of the disease is greatly diminished with these measures.

Please remember:

  • Our vaccination/booster requirement has not changed. If you are eligible to be boosted and have not received the shot, please do so immediately. If you have been boosted, upload your status to our secure portal.
  • Testing is strongly encouraged for anyone who is experiencing COVID symptoms, has been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive, or has been traveling.
  • KN95 masks are available at several distribution points on campus.
  • As we have throughout the pandemic, we will remain vigilant and flexible should changing conditions require us to shift our approach. We will keep you apprised of any additional changes to procedures and protocols.

We hope you enjoy your weekend. And for those attending the International Gala this Saturday, the Kneller Center doors open at 6 p.m., and masks are required.