Q: What is Gordon's masking policy?
A: Masks are no longer required on campus, although exceptions do apply. More specifically, this means:
Each community member has the discretion to continue to wear a mask if desired in public spaces and in their own office or personal space, or while attending in-person meetings. The College has a supply of 3-ply and KN95 masks and will continue to make these available to faculty, staff and students who request them.
Per the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, it is still recommended that “a fully vaccinated individual should wear a mask indoors if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.”
Q: What are Gordon’s safety protocols for the spring semester?
A: Toward the end of the fall semester, we experienced two losses in our community. Late in the fall semester we also observed a more rapid uptick in positive cases among students, faculty and staff, after maintaining a low positivity rate in weekly testing prior to the Thanksgiving break. Contact tracing and other sourcing work have indicated spread on campus has not been attributed to the classroom experience, but the trend has been disconcerting. In response to these events, the COVID-19 Taskforce is expanding Gordon’s existing safety protocols for the spring semester to for all members of the Gordon community. Starting in January and continuing through May 7, the College will require students, faculty and staff to:
The College continues to strongly urge students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated or receive the booster shot if they are able. Anyone with concerns or hesitation about getting the vaccine can email [email protected] and a member of the Taskforce or other community member will be happy to talk with you about this. We continue to see data both on our own campus and in the community that shows that the vaccine continues to be the best way to reduce the chances of significant illness and hospitalization. Gordon’s on-campus testing has shown that a much higher percentage of unvaccinated students test positive versus their vaccinated peers.
Q: I am pretty sure I just have allergies. Do I really need to report symptoms?
A: YES! For many, the symptoms of the new Omicron variant are less severe and can include anything from a runny nose to a sore throat, headache or nausea. If you have any sick symptoms, no matter how mild or similar to allergies they may be, please report them and seek a test. Because Gordon's isolation period for positive cases begins on the day of your positive test, not the day symptoms began, it is advantageous for you to test right away. The sooner you test, the sooner you begin your isolation period, and the sooner you finish. When in doubt, test.
Q: Where do I quarantine or isolate?
A: Given the prevalent nature of the Omicron variant, and in order to respond dynamically to current case counts on campus at any given time, the COVID-19 team will take a case-by-case approach to utilization of Drew and Lewis Halls as isolation or quarantine spaces. Some students may be placed in quarantine in their existing room or moved to a separate quarantine room based on availability, risk and situation. The COVID-19 team will work with each student on the best way to quarantine based on the situation.
Q: What does it mean to be fully updated on vaccines?
A: Being fully updated on vaccines means you:
Q: Why isn’t Gordon requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: There is no single perfect process that all in Gordon’s larger community agree upon as we seek continually to establish the right balance of safety precautions, personal responsibility, care for all in and around the College campus, and the ability to provide an in-person learning and living experience for all students. We respect the reality that major health decisions for every individual is a personal matter. While recent data and experience with COVID-19 vaccinations has shown they do not eliminate the possibility of positive cases in a large community, the medical data that supports vaccination as a critical factor in reducing the risk of severe illness or life threatening complications of the disease. To give members of our community the choice to get vaccinated or not, we have implemented stricter safety protocols, weekly COVID-19 testing for all students and daily wellness checks. To encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated, the COVID-19 Taskforce partnered with Conley’s Drug Store and the Hamilton/Wenham Board of Public Health to provide three on-campus COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Moving forward, the College will continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination (and provide free, on-campus opportunities to do so). Consistent with the annual reporting of medical history already required of students, we will ask students to self-report their vaccination status. It is possible that certain activities may require students to be vaccinated for full participation as prescribed by "professional or guild" organizations the College is involved with. In accordance with state law, individuals demonstrating a legitimate medical reason or sincerely held religious belief may be exempt from such requirement. Students who decide not to become vaccinated may be required to participate in regular COVID-19 testing and cover related fees.
Students, visitors and others traveling around the local area should note that some towns and cities nearby Gordon have implemented vaccine mandates that require patrons to show proof of vaccination before entering certain indoor establishments. These mandates are dynamic and outside the control of the College.
Q: How do I sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Gordon College will be holding vaccine clinics throughout the spring semester for anyone interested in receiving the vaccine. Look for information at www.gordon.edu/coronavirus. In addition, those who live, work or study in Massachusetts can visit www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine for information on additional vaccination sites across Massachusetts.
Q: Is Gordon using the Wellness Check system again?
A: Gordon College has developed a (mobile friendly) daily wellness app located at https://360.gordon.edu/wellness where you should report any symptoms you may be experiencing. Students, faculty and staff are requested to monitor symptoms carefully because especially in vaccinated individuals, very mild symptoms can be linked to COVID-19. Students in a green status are fully healthy and can attend classes and events as normal. Faculty and staff in a green status can come to Gordon as normal. If you have any symptoms and report symptoms, you will be placed in a yellow status and someone from the COVID-19 Team will contact you. Students in a yellow status are requested to wear a mask, socially distance from others, take food to-go, and not attend classes in person. Faculty and staff in a yellow are asked to stay away from Gordon. Anyone in isolation or quarantine will be in a red status and will need to stay isolated or quarantined until cleared by a health professional. Initially, everyone will have a yellow status until they submit the two required forms listed on the pre-arrival checklist.
Q: How will Gordon determine any changes to protocol throughout the semester?
A: We will closely monitor several factors and use the data to determine any need for changes. These include testing results (how many positives and close contacts), vacancy levels in designated isolation and quarantine spaces, location of any spread (e.g. contained to a single floor or building, or scattered around campus), vaccination rates, local case numbers, and recommendations from the Board of Health in Wenham.
Q: Does Gordon have any specific requirements for international students traveling to campus?
A: International students should follow the CDC guidelines for international travel to the U.S. during COVID-19.