Vaccine boosters will be critically important as Norwich University considers a pivot to an "endemic" COVID-19 response strategy this spring semester. As previously noted, this will allow the preservation of the in-person experience while also prioritizing the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and our entire Norwich community. Once Norwich achieves a high percentage of population with a booster we can consider transition to reduced restrictions and a return to prepandemic operations in many areas.
All fully vaccinated students and employees are required to obtain a booster dose when eligible. Eligibility is roughly defined as follows:
Community members who have a previous positive COVID-19 test are eligible for the booster after completing the five-day recovery period and their symptoms are no longer present.
Existing medical and religious exemptions for the vaccination mandate will be honored/continued for Norwich students and employees. Norwich will grant a new medical exemption (medical only) for any student or employee who provides documentation of support from a medical provider.
Norwich is coordinating with the Vermont Health Department and Waterbury Ambulance Service Inc. to host COVID-19 booster vaccine clinics on campus. All Norwich students, faculty, and staff who are eligible for a booster should plan to attend these free booster clinics, or should schedule their booster at other local sites, as listed here: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/getting-covid-19-vaccine
Upcoming campus-based booster clinics are scheduled as follows:
Saturday, Jan. 29 and Sunday, Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Plumley Armory.
*Please note that the Plumley Armory gymnasium will be closed during the dates and times of the booster clinics.
Employees will need to attest to full vaccination with a booster through Human Resources. Guidance for employees to access the attestation application on the Norwich SSO page will be communicated this week in an employee announcement. Paper attestations will be available in Human Resources (Jackman Hall 323) for those without access to Norwich University systems.
Thank you for your continuing commitment to prioritize the health and safety of the Norwich community to ensure the preservation of the Spring 2022 term as an in-person semester with a full academic and co-curricular student experience.
Norwich University is continuing our close coordination with our medical team, public health experts, local and state officials, other institutions of higher education, and published guidance from Vermont health authorities. This memo updates the community on our COVID-19 posture and policies based on this coordination. Because of our very high vaccination rate, we are able to make agile and responsible changes to our policies to create the best environment for our students and employees. Thank you to the entire community for achieving this status.
Please note the campus remains in safe operations. The current number of positive cases is lower than anticipated, due largely to prearrival testing, the reception plan, and our high vaccination rate. We have greatly increased testing through Sunday Jan. 16, and anticipate more positive cases based on the fact we are administering over 2,000 tests over a four-day period.
We also have a historically low severity of disease on campus (e.g., no hospitalizations for COVID-19 to this point). Because of this and our high vaccination rate, we are now in a position to consider other "endemic" COVID-19 response policies that ease the strain on resources to allow the preservation of the in-person experience while also prioritizing the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and our entire Norwich community. The policy updates contained in this memo are in anticipation of an increase in cases, taking into consideration professional guidance from all professional communities.
We are also pleased to announce the procurement of several thousand N95 masks. These masks have proven to be highly effective and are more comfortable than other options. They will be delivered to campus shortly and will be provided for free. Students should contact their company mentor or residence life staff for one of these N95 masks.
Effective immediately, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new isolation and quarantine guidelines, students who test positive for COVID-19 will quarantine in their own room for five days of recovery management (previously termed “isolation”) after which asymptomatic students are cleared to engage fully on campus. Students who are symptomatic on Day 5 must remain in room quarantine and must contact NU Health Services. We continue to work with medical and public health professionals on the integration of rapid antigen testing in our recovery management protocols and will post updates once the plan is finalized.
As has been widely discussed, the omicron variant is highly transmissible but less severe than past strains of the virus. Given these facts, we will be able to maintain our in-person learning experience, which remains our priority given the importance of this resource for our students and our belief that we can do so in a responsible manner.
Watch this video from President Mark Anarumo welcoming back students, faculty and staff and updating the Norwich community on the start of the spring semester with a reminder of the importance of upholding our Norwich Guiding Values in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.