Greetings Faculty and Staff,
Harvey Mudd College continues planning efforts to resume normal operations this fall, barring any unforeseen circumstances. At the same time, we see a rise in COVID-19 transmission and rapid increase of daily new cases in Los Angeles County due to the more contagious Delta variant. As the Cabinet continues to monitor developments, we have a number of updates to share.
Moving the Return to Campus Date to Aug 30, 2021
Based upon the rise in COVID-19 transmission and an increase in daily new cases in Los Angeles County, staff who have positions that are conducive to telecommuting may request of their supervisor and area VP that they be allowed to voluntarily postpone a return to campus from August 1 to August 30, 2021. Staff who work directly with students, as well as other staff identified by their area VP who need to be on campus, are still expected to return to campus by August 24. In-person instruction resumes for faculty and students on August 30. If you are interested in continuing to work remotely through August 30, 2021, contact your supervisor or area vice president. As we continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission and daily new cases, we will adjust plans accordingly.
Meetings, Gathering and Events
The College strongly encourages that all meetings of faculty and staff be conducted virtually whenever possible and always when the meeting will include more than 10 individuals. Please note that key celebratory events of the early fall semester, including Convocation, will be virtual, as will much of new student orientation.
Meals on Campus
In an effort to manage the area on campus that will be the most heavily visited, for the fall semester, Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons will be limited to Harvey Mudd students and DSA staff who live on campus. All others (e.g. faculty, staff who do not live on campus, non-HMC students, guests and visitors) will have some meal options available (e.g., beverages, pastries, breakfast items and lunch items) to order and purchase from the Cafe. Food may be ordered and purchased at the Cafe or pre-ordered via a mobile app and picked up at the Cafe. (Instruction on the mobile app will be communicated to our community prior to students returning to campus). However, seating will not be permitted inside the Cafe. Food may be eaten outdoors or by an individual alone in an office behind closed doors. HMC faculty, staff and students should limit meal gatherings to outdoors and in groups of 10 or fewer. HMC also advises HMC constituents that if they meet off campus for a work-related meal, that they limit gatherings to 10 or less.
Reservations of Private Dining Rooms (PDRs) will be limited to students during times when the dining hall is open. Faculty and staff will not be permitted to use these rooms until further notice. Additionally, until further notice, the dining hall will not be providing catering services. We will monitor the situation, reassess and pivot as necessary.
In order to support contact tracing efforts, the College has decided to leave all exterior-facing academic and administrative building doors set to card-access only mode for the fall. Any invited visitors would need to be met at the door by their HMC point of contact, who invited them.
We appreciate the high level of cooperation and response in submitting proof of full vaccination or a request for an accommodation or exemption by the August 1 deadline. To date, HMC has confirmed that 84% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated. We are aware that some faculty and staff have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccination, and expect our percentage to increase above 90% after those in process become fully vaccinated and all furloughed staff return to work later this month.
If you have not yet submitted proof of full vaccination or submitted a request for an accommodation or exemption, please take immediate action to comply with the College policy. The Office of Human Resources has provided each vice president with a list of faculty and staff who have not yet complied with the College policy. Faculty or staff who failed to submit proof of vaccination or a request for an accommodation or exception will receive a notification from their vice president, who will work with Human Resources to determine next steps. During the week of August 9, the Office of Human Resources will provide a list of all unvaccinated faculty and staff to each VP, to help ensure appropriate testing and face covering protocols are followed. Each VP will have the responsibility to share the list with appropriate department supervisors.
As a reminder, once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval to one of the vaccine candidates currently authorized for emergency use (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson), HMC will no longer grant exemptions based on philosophical objections. All employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and accommodations or exemptions will be granted for medical contraindications or sincerely held religious beliefs only. The College also reserves the right to further modify this policy and require employees to be vaccinated prior to the FDA granting full approval should we determine this to be in the best interest of maintaining and safeguarding the health of our community.
Symptom Screening Requirements
The College continues to require the daily symptom screening questionnaire for employees coming to campus, regardless of vaccination status. If requirements change in the future, we will communicate updates to the Return to Campus Guide.
The College allows College-sponsored, business-related travel with approval from your vice president/Cabinet member. Based on your vaccination status, we encourage you to review the latest travel information and travel-related notices from the CDC and U.S. Department of State. Keep in mind that any international travel may still carry a risk that you might be quarantined or prevented from returning to the U.S.
COVID-19 Exposure and Requirements
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if you are unvaccinated and have been in contact with a person with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 in the past 10 days, it is critical that you do not come to campus and that you contact your immediate supervisor as soon as possible. All supervisors have a responsibility to exclude symptomatic employees from campus, as soon as they are made aware.
If you are fully vaccinated and exposed to someone with COVID-19, and you have developed COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your supervisor as soon as possible to inform them. If you are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms, you do not need to quarantine. As noted below, CDC advises testing if exposed to someone with COVID.
Unvaccinated employees with close contact, who do not develop COVID-19 symptoms, may return to work when 10 days have passed since the last known close contact. If the unvaccinated employee develops symptoms, the person can return if they meet criteria required to return a COVID-19 case (24 hours passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications; COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared).
Taking Care of Someone Sick
If you cannot work because you are caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, please contact the Office of Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org. HR will partner with faculty and staff on available options. California continues to require employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, until September 30, 2021.
HMC is following the Los Angeles County requirement and guidance regarding face coverings.
Face masks or face coverings that are worn over the nose and mouth must be worn indoors by all employees regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings are not required indoors if you are actively eating or drinking or alone in a separate room or office. Masking outdoors is strongly encouraged, unless actively eating or drinking. The College has a supply of disposable masks located at the Facilities and Maintenance Office and other personal protective equipment necessary for the safety of employees upon request. Employees exempted from wearing face coverings due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability shall wear an effective non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom, if their condition or disability permits it. If you need assistance, contact Theresa Lauer, senior director for facilities, emergency preparedness and safety.
The College requires twice weekly COVID-19 screening testing for all unvaccinated employees who regularly come to campus. Recently the CDC has changed its stance from a position that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to test, to a position that fully vaccinated individuals who come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested within 3-5 days after exposure.
We have received questions from our community on whether the College will require testing of vaccinated faculty, staff and students. Requiring testing of fully vaccinated individuals is contrary to current guidelines from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH). However, this situation with the delta variant keeps evolving, and we have another telebriefing for institutes of higher education with LACDPH this Friday, so we may have an update on recommendations soon.
Screening testing for unvaccinated asymptomatic faculty and staff will be conducted by Student Health Services. However, note that if faculty and staff have symptoms, they should NOT go to Student Health Services (SHS) for testing, as SHS is not their primary care provider. Testing for faculty and staff that have symptoms, should be obtained from their health care provider or elsewhere. Students experiencing symptoms will be evaluated by SHS. For students, if COVID testing is recommended by the provider, then it will be performed by SHS, along with any other testing and/or treatments recommended by the provider.
Changes to COVID-19 Screening Testing Method Effective August 9
Effective August 9, 2021, HMC will be adopting a new COVID-19 screening testing methodology. SHS will stop offering the Abbott BinaxNow rapid antigen test and switch to the ShieldT3 saliva PCR test, exclusively. Faculty and staff will still receive the same notifications by text and email when results are available. Since the new method is a PCR test, if there is a positive result, there will be no confirmatory testing needed, and there is no need to come back for a second sample or nose swab. For further detail about how the new test is administered, refer to the short video provided by ShieldT3.
In closing, we would like to thank all of you for your continued work on behalf of Harvey Mudd College and our students. We very much look forward to our community returning to campus this fall. We will continue to monitor developments and will reassess our need to adapt to changing circumstances and business needs, consistent with our commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy working environment while ensuring we can deliver the same level of outstanding education our students have come to expect from the College.
We will resume town hall meetings beginning in September 2021. If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to continue reaching out to your department chair, supervisor or your vice president/Cabinet member.
The President’s Cabinet:
Maria Klawe, President
Karen Angemi, Director of the President’s Office and Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Thyra Briggs, Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid
Andrew Dorantes, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer
Marco Antonio Valenzuela, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Timothy Hussey, Chief Communications Officer and Assistant Secretary to the Board
Hieu Nguyen, Vice President for Advancement
Lisa Sullivan, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
Joseph Vaughan, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Computing and Information Services