FALL 2021 COVID-19 COMMUNICATIONS

This page serves as the official archive of Mercyhurst University's COVID-19 communications for Fall 2021.

Dear Mercyhurst Students and Employees,

With Laker Move-In set to begin in just a few days, we hope you, like us, are excited for the year ahead and resolute in the dedication required of all of us for a safe, successful semester. We are well positioned to start our year stronger and safer than last year, with fewer restrictions in place and a more robust student life environment in line with the traditional Mercyhurst campus experience. As always, much of our future success depends on the good judgement and wise decision-making of everyone in our campus community. I’d like to remind you of a few regulations and key points to keep in mind over the next few days, during Move-In, and once classes begin.

Face Coverings

Erie County is currently categorized as having a substantial transmission rate of COVID-19. At this level of transmission, we require all individuals on campus — regardless of vaccination status —to wear face coverings in public indoor areas on campus (such as classrooms, athletic areas, common areas, lobbies, etc.) and in crowded outdoor areas on campus. Although this is surely disappointing news to most of you, CDC recommendations indicate it is the best option for our campus at this moment in time. We will continue to monitor transmission rates in our country; should these rates improve to low or moderate levels, we may be able to reconsider our approach to face coverings.

Pre-Arrival Testing

As you know, pre-arrival testing is required only for individuals who are not fully vaccinated (those who have not received the vaccine or those who are not yet 14 days out from their final vaccine dose). The pre-arrival test must be a PCR test completed 72 hours prior to arrival on campus; results can be uploaded to the university using this secure online form.

Physical Distancing and Gatherings

I am pleased to say that we have lifted capacity limits and restrictions on student gatherings. This applies to classrooms, dining facilities, residence halls and apartments, and other campus spaces, as well as physical distancing requirements for academic, social, and extracurricular activities.

Campus Signage and Other Protocols

Most campus directional signage and added partitions have been removed, as have restrictions on indoor traffic flow. Most COVID adaptations in our dining facilities have also been lifted.

Daily Self-Screening Forms

Students are no longer required to complete the daily self-screening form. However, everyone should continue to self-monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19. Should you develop any symptoms associated with COVID-19, please contact a medical professional as soon as possible, and wear a face covering and physically distance from others until you receive guidance.

Surveillance Testing

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated will be required to participate in surveillance testing throughout the semester. Surveillance testing will be conducted every other week; those required to participate will receive communications with details on how to satisfy this ongoing requirement.

Contact Tracing and Quarantine

Should we have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 with known campus exposure, the university’s COVID-19 Response Team will begin contact tracing to notify close contacts and identify other positive cases. Close contacts may be required to quarantine; in most cases, though, fully vaccinated individuals who are not displaying any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine.

New Dashboard

We recently launched an updated COVID-19 Dashboard to more clearly track case counts and vaccination rates on campus. Please continue to check back, as this will be updated regularly.

Lakers, I cannot tell you how excited I am for the year ahead. After the difficulties of the past 18 months, we are confident we can safely welcome back many elements of the Mercyhurst life and further enrich the vibrancy of your student experience to all that it can and should be. Although we are easing many of the restrictions previously in place, the spread of COVID-19 remains a serious concern, and the safety and well-being of our campus community is always at the front of our minds.

I encourage everyone to continue opting for safer, less risky behaviors wherever possible — socially distance when you can, continue to wash your hands regularly, and take precautions in crowded environments, if possible. The more we can incorporate safer common-sense behaviors into our day-to-day lives, the better off we’ll be in weathering any potential COVID-19 concerns in our future.

Thank you for your attention to these matters before the start of the semester. More information about the university’s COVID-19 response, including policies and procedures, is available on the COVID-19 webpage or you can contact us at 814-824-3600.

I look forward to seeing you on campus soon! 

Carpe Diem,
 
Laura


Laura Zirkle, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life
Pandemic Officer
Mercyhurst University