Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As we head into spring break, the COVID-19 national and regional trends are encouraging. We are particularly encouraged by the steady decline of the Omicron variant on our own campus, which can be tracked on the Healthy Clark Dashboard.
As a community, we have adjusted admirably to the disruptions that COVID has caused to the University’s academic, work, and social routines over the last two years. Our approach to managing the pandemic has, always, been based on data, real-time assessments of the risk posed by the virus, and guidance from local and state officials, the CDC, and our own Health Advisory Board. At this point, the number of positive cases continues to dramatically decrease. Here at Clark, as noted on our dashboard, our overall positivity rate has been below 1 percent since February 6 with a current seven-day rate of .20 percent. The positivity rate in the State of Massachusetts is below 2 percent. This, combined with our 98% vaccination rate among members of our community, clearly indicates that the health risks from the virus are significantly diminished.
As a result, last week, we reduced the campus Alert Level from 3 (“High”) to 2 (“Moderate”), which allows for less restrictive prevention measures. We now can confidently move toward operating in an environment that more closely reflects our pre-COVID campus. Other institutions of higher education, both locally and across the nation, have made or are making similar determinations.
Today, we want to share with you the important steps we plan to take toward normalizing University operations. Most significantly, beginning on March 21, indoor mask-wearing and COVID testing will be optional at Clark.
These are some things that you need to know as we make this transition:
Post-spring break assessment
Students are asked to test at the center upon returning from spring break, and then test a second time around mid-week. This will allow us to gauge if there have been any post-break positivity trends.
Testing over the next two weeks
If you will be on campus during spring break, you will continue to test once per week. Anyone who will be away during break is asked to test immediately upon returning to campus and once again 3–5 days later.
Testing center operations
Testing will still be available at the campus testing center, but we do not anticipate the center remaining in operation beyond the end of the semester. Accommodations will be made for students who are affiliated with an entity that may still require testing (for instance, Clark athletes, who must abide by NEWMAC testing mandates).
We will continue to supply KN95 masks for those who wish to wear them.
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, please be sure to upload your status to our secure portal.
As we make this important transition, let’s always remember that we are a community shaped by mutual trust, empathy, and respect. You all have proven this to be true during our most challenging days, and we expect that you will carry forward this same generosity of spirit as we adapt, together, to the changing norms surrounding how we live, work, and learn. We ask that you support and honor the personal choices others make to feel healthy, safe, and confident when they are on campus. This includes respecting their choice to wear a mask and/or to get tested, even if you have made a different choice, and keeping a mask handy if a friend or colleague asks you to wear one. It’s the Clark way.
Consistent with how we’ve operated throughout the pandemic, we will remain vigilant and flexible should changing conditions require us to shift our approach. And we will keep you apprised of any additional changes to procedures and protocols as we become accustomed to our new normal.
Thank you for all you’ve done, and continue to do, to make Clark a healthy and caring university community. For our students and faculty, and for staff members who may be taking some personal time next week, please enjoy a restful break, and we look forward to a successful second half of the spring semester.