As Howard University prepares to open its doors to students and faculties after more than a year, there are several health and safety protocols the Howard community should be aware of before returning.
Howard’s administration has put several protocols and regulations in place to ensure students, faculty and staff can make a safe return to campus while enjoying in-person classes and campus activities. These regulations range from vaccination requirements to how students can interact on campus.
On May 14, The university announced via email that there would be vaccination requirements for all students who planned to reside on campus or come to campus for any reason.
There is strong vaccine hesitancy from many citizens, and even some students, but the university believes this is the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
“While requiring the vaccine for students was a difficult choice, we strongly believe that it is the right one. Right now, receiving the vaccine, and encouraging others to do so, is one of the surest and most beneficial acts of service you can provide to our community,” Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick wrote in an email announcement to the Howard community in May.
Students are required to submit proof of vaccination on Medproctor, similar to other vaccinations required by the university. The deadline to show documented proof of being fully vaccinated was Aug. 1. Students who planned on residing on campus were required to have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to their move-in date to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccine. Medical and religious exemptions will be granted in accordance with federal and local laws.
Administration officials later announced vaccination requirements or all faculty and staff as well. Faculty and staff are to upload their vaccination cards through the university’s Workday portal. According to the email sent on Aug.3, all faculty and staff who will be on campus this fall must receive their first dose of a vaccine, excluding the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by Sept. 3. The second dose must be completed by Oct. 1.
Kholeigh Foster, a senior sociology major, feels these measures are appropriate for the community’s return to campus.
“The vaccine requirements that have been put in place for those of us coming to campus are necessary and a great way of trying to ensure the safety of our health for all students, faculty, and staff. It makes me feel a tad bit more comfortable about returning to campus,” said Foster.
Masks will also be required indoors and outdoors while on campus regardless of vaccination status, university officials said. Additionally, anyone who plans to be on campus must present a negative test result prior to campus entrance, and anyone who will be on campus for more than four hours in any given week must participate in the screening and testing regimen via the Bison Safe app.
According to Bison S.A.F.E.: The University’s Pandemic Response found on the university’s website, all faculty, students and staff who will be on campus must download the Bison Safe app and respond to the screening questions on a daily basis prior to entry to campus.
According to Lennon Jackson, the director of operations for the division of student affairs,
the university plans to go on “good faith that everyone has done what they needed to do” in order to enforce these protocols. Students should be prepared to show verification in the event that an official or staff member asks.
Additional testing and screening requirements can be found online. There are different testing requirements depending on the student.
There are also some changes to how students will be able to interact on campus. There will be no visitation in dorm halls. Visitation is limited to outdoor spaces and all visitors are encouraged to be vaccinated. The only exception applied to parents assisting with move-in, and they are also required to have symptom and temperature checks.
The university has also made changes to ensure buildings and facilities on campus are safe for student, faculty and staff returns.
“Physical Facilities Management has prepared buildings for the return of students, faculty, and staff by cleaning duct work, installing more effective filters in the heating and cooling systems, making hand sanitizer available, installing some dilution/ventilation stations and installing signage. We also install plexiglass where it is requested,” said Timothy Milner, executive director of Howard’s physical facilities.
As students begin classes for the fall semester, it is important to keep note of all protocols put in place by the university to ensure the safety of everyone in the Howard community. There will be more communication between the administration and students detailing protocols to come soon, according to Jackson. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit the university’s website to learn more about the most recent pandemic response from the university.