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Toward a Healthy and Safe Fall Semester

To the Clark Community,

We are delighted to extend a warm welcome to our students — new and returning, undergraduate and graduate.

Today, we write to outline Clark University’s preparations and expectations for a safe fall semester beginning August 23. We do so with both great anticipation and some caution. Clark’s priority throughout the pandemic has and will continue to be the health and safety of our community while also doing all we can to deliver the compelling educational experience for which we are known.

Our goal is to have an academic year that is as close to normal as possible – including in-person classes, face-to-face gatherings, guest lecturers and speakers on campus, athletics and performances, and more direct community involvement. And we feel confident, based on our experience last year, to manage through the challenges we now face. Out of an abundance of caution, given how quickly the COVID-19 trends here in Worcester and around the country are developing, our plan we will be to start the semester with some risk mitigations in place. As trends change, these measures will be adjusted. We will provide updates throughout the semester and engage members of our community to discuss our approach. We also invite you to regularly check the Healthy Clark dashboard.

The University is requiring students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus to be vaccinated prior to the semester, unless you have received a formal exemption. Those who receive exemptions will be expected to follow additional health protocols as described in the risk-reduction measures below. The coronavirus vaccines have been proven to be extremely effective so we are beginning the fall semester with much lower risk than was the case last August. Nevertheless, we feel it is prudent to be cautious, especially at the start of the term to protect all members of our extended community, including those with vulnerable immune systems and children under 12. Our experience in the last academic year proved Clarkies are responsible, resilient, flexible, creative, adaptable, and understanding when it comes to taking care of ourselves and our community, and we will again ask the same of you as the Delta variant asserts itself across the country and in Worcester County.

Risk-Reduction Measures

With our goal of mitigating the virus’ risk to our community members, we have established the guidelines below for the start of the fall semester. Please be aware that these guidelines could be relaxed, amplified, or extended over the course of the semester depending on the virus’ spread and recommendations from health and government entities.

  1. Vaccine Requirement: This is critical to our efforts to reduce the risk of spread of the virus and minimize the severity of COVID-19. Thank you to all who have uploaded your vaccination or exemption status to our secure portal. If you have not yet uploaded your information or requested an exemption, please do as soon as possible. Students who have not registered their vaccination status or applied for an exemption by Wednesday, August 11 will be disenrolled from their classes and have their housing reservation canceled. Employees who have not complied by Wednesday will have their card access removed. Any student in need of assistance should contact the Dean of Students as soon as possible at
  2. Mask-wearing: All who are on campus are required to wear masks indoors in public areas of all University buildings. For those who are vaccinated, mask-wearing outdoors is optional. Those who were granted exemptions from vaccination are required to wear a mask at all times — both indoors and outdoors — except when eating, and must practice physical distancing. We also acknowledge that many vaccinated individuals may choose to wear masks outdoors, and we accept that as a matter of personal choice and therefore as completely appropriate.
  3. Testing: Beginning August 16, all vaccinated Clark students, faculty, and staff taking classes or working on campus will be part of a once-a-week surveillance testing protocol, conducted through the Broad Institute. Those who were granted exemptions from vaccination will test twice weekly. The nasal swab will be self-administered at the testing facility located in the Grace and Lurie conference rooms on the ground floor of the Higgins University Center, which will be open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  4. Visitors: All visitors to Clark will be informed of the University’s vaccination policy and must comply with mask-wearing protocols.
  5. Isolation: Isolation space will be reserved for students who live in residence halls and test positive.
  6. Quarantine: Quarantine space will be reserved for unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts

Updated Clark Commitment

Because so much has changed since last year, we have updated our Clark Commitment. We are not asking our students, faculty, and staff to sign the commitment, but do ask you to join us in embracing these principles.

Clark Commitment

(Updated August 2021)

I acknowledge that our community is built on trust, respect, and empathy for one another. As such, I will support and honor my fellow community members in their efforts to live, learn, and work in a healthy and safe environment.

  • I will remain committed to doing everything I can as a member of our Clark community to protect myself and others from COVID-19, and to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • I will comply with Clark University’s vaccine requirement. I will remain off campus unless I am fully vaccinated or have received an exemption from the University.
  • I understand mask wearing, testing requirements, and/or social distancing measures could change from time-to-time based on COVID-19 trends and guidance from health and government entities. I will follow Clark University’s requirements.
  • I will respect anyone’s decision to wear a mask under any circumstance and for any reason, even if not required, whenever they feel it is best for them.
  • I will monitor my own personal health, and should I exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 (a fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher, dry cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell), I will consult with a health provider and will stay home or in my residence hall room until advised otherwise by a medical professional or Clark Health Services.

Because of your dedication to our community, your diligence, and the Clarkie spirit driving us all, we will persevere and have a productive and fulfilling semester on campus.

With best wishes,

David Fithian

Sebastián Royo