Update on Widener's Fall Semester and Pandemic Response
Dear Widener Community,
We’ve crossed the two-week mark of the fall semester and I want to thank everyone for contributing to a very positive start. It is great to be back together! Widener is a highly vaccinated community. More than 97% of our entire campus community is vaccinated, and others either have approved exemptions or are on leave. Our entire on-campus student vaccination rate is 98.2 percent and our entire on-campus employee vaccination rate is 94.4 percent. With the addition of our masking policy, we are one of the few institutions that are providing this strong combination of safety measures to protect students, faculty, and staff against COVID-19 and its variants.
While national infection rates are at concerning levels, it is important to remember public health information has shown the majority of those testing positive and experiencing serious illness are unvaccinated.
Throughout the pandemic, Widener has experienced zero cases of classroom transmission of the virus. In the first two weeks of this semester, we have posted just six positive cases in total from our three campuses; none involved classroom transmission. We attribute this low number to our careful planning and our commitment to the health and well-being of our community.
We recognize positive and breakthrough cases are an unsettling reality, and we are prepared to handle them. Anyone who tests positive must contact Student Health Services immediately. Student Health Services will conduct contact tracing and reach out to close contacts of those who test positive, while keeping health status confidential for all involved. Close contacts will also be offered testing and provided more instruction. The university is prepared with space dedicated for student isolation and quarantine if needed.
Widener develops its COVID-19-related plans by carefully monitoring information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and health departments in Pennsylvania and Delaware, where our campuses are located. We rely on input from our Health Advisory Group, comprised by public health experts and our Crisis Management Team, Provost’s Council, President’s Leadership Team, Education and Enforcement Group, and multiple task forces that have included faculty and staff, an industrial hygienist, and students. Our efforts are tireless, and ongoing.
As this work continues, we encourage on-campus events and activities to be held outdoors whenever possible. And we’re asking that everyone in the Widener community also does their part. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Follow our masking policy, which is explained in detail on our Coronavirus Information webpage and will be updated there if changes are made. Seek testing if you feel ill, or if you are identified as a close contact of someone who is.
Our goal is to provide the most robust in-person learning experience possible under challenging circumstances that are constantly evolving. I am grateful for your cooperation and your commitment to keeping our Widener community safe.
Julie E. Wollman, PhD