December 18, 2020
Dear students, parents, faculty, and staff,
In October, I announced Reed’s spring 2021 plans. Although that was just seven weeks ago, as we all know during the COVID-19 pandemic, much can change in a matter of weeks. I write to you today to confirm our plans for the spring semester.
While national trends are concerning, our assessment remains that Reed’s robust prevention and response plan and our community’s adherence to health protocols will allow us to proceed, albeit cautiously, with our plan to offer a mix of in-person and online education this spring. The COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group continues to meet weekly and to closely monitor public health data points, including cases, testing capacity, hospital capacity, vaccine availability, and the metrics shared on Reed’s COVID-19 dashboard.
As circumstances change, we will continue to make adjustments to our plan while remaining committed to our guiding principles. I would like to share information about two recent updates to the plan for spring, which are related to testing and vaccination.
COVID-19 testing: While we were pleased with our testing program in the fall, we believe that increasing testing, specifically for students who are accessing campus but live off campus, is essential. We will be increasing our testing capacity from 1,700 tests per week to approximately 3,300 tests per week. More details on the spring 2021 surveillance testing program will be shared before the start of the term. As we did in the fall, we will also test all community members prior to the start of the term. Start-of-term testing dates have been scheduled for January 14 & 15 and 20 & 21; instructions and a link to sign up can be found here.
COVID-19 vaccine: We are encouraged by the news that the United States has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for distribution and that the first COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Oregon. Additionally, multiple other vaccines have reached the federal approval process. The CDC will direct the distribution of the vaccine to individual states, each of which is developing a vaccine distribution plan based on CDC recommendations. Oregon will allocate the vaccine in a three-phase plan. The current plan lists health-care workers and those who reside and work in long-term care facilities as the first groups to receive the vaccine. We remain in close contact with the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Immunization Program as we prepare to play our assigned role in providing COVID-19 vaccines to the Reed community. We will keep the community up to date as we learn more.
All students, faculty, and staff must complete the updated Reed College COVID-19 Policies and Prevention Training by January 8, 2021. This training is now available.
I imagine that many of you will have questions related to your specific needs. We are grateful for the expertise and support of Reed’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator and Health Project Manager, Madison Riethman, who continues to field questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you good health and a peaceful holiday season. With hope and bright prospects on the horizon, I look forward to connecting with you in the new year.
All my best,
P.S. A reminder that there are additional administrative leave days for staff at the end of this calendar year in recognition of their hard work. This means that college operations will be limited to essential services from December 23, 2020, through January 3, 2021.