Staff: Starting the Spring Semester Safely

Dear Kent State University Staff,

As we approach the beginning of our spring semester, we continue to closely monitor the ongoing surge of COVID-19. The health and safety of our community remains our top priority as we prepare to welcome students to our campuses.

The university has several COVID-19 prevention committees that include experts from our College of Public Health. Our strategy, outlined below, for safely starting the 2022 Spring Semester is based on the input and advice from these committees and experts from our local health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health.

Our spring semester will begin as scheduled on Jan. 18. At this time, we do not anticipate any significant changes to university operations. We are committed to providing a vibrant learning, living and working environment for all.

The best way to protect our community is to continue our adherence to the Flashes Safe Eight safety principles that have been effective in deterring the spread of the virus on our campuses, including masking and vaccinations. Our indoor face covering requirement, coupled with the installation of equipment to clean and purify the air in our buildings, has proven successful at stopping the widespread transmission of the virus in our classrooms and offices.

Additional Safety Measures

To further deter the spread of the virus on our campuses, the following additional safety measures will be put in place:

  • Employees whose jobs can be performed remotely may work remotely until the start of the semester. Check with your supervisor to determine your work plan.

  • As in previous semesters, face coverings and other personal protective equipment are available to order through FlashTrack. Please consult with your building administrator to order.

  • Through Jan. 31, our dining halls on the Kent Campus will provide only grab-and-go meals to eliminate large groups of individuals congregating without face coverings for extended periods of time.

  • If you are hosting an in-person event, please be sure your event plans include adhering to the Flashes Safe Eight. For questions or support to ensure your event is following our safety principles, please contact the University Events and Protocol team at universityevents@kent.edu.

Existing Safety Principles

As you return to campus, please remember our existing safety principles, including:

  • Wear a face covering. We remind you that face coverings are required in all indoor spaces on all our campuses. During this omicron surge, good options are a KN95 mask, a surgical mask or a face covering with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric (preferably 50% cotton/50% polyester) that completely covers your nose and mouth, fits snugly against the sides of your face and has a pliable nose bridge that can seal around the nose. We urge you to follow the Flashes Safe Eight safety principles diligently. Thoroughly wash your hands often and monitor your health daily.

  • Get vaccinated. For anyone who has not been vaccinated, we urge you to do so. This step is more important than ever as omicron spreads. Vaccines and boosters are available at the DeWeese Health Center on our Kent Campus and at various locations throughout the state, which are convenient to our Regional Campuses. While the vaccine may not stop you from getting the virus, it has proven strongly effective at lessening symptoms and preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death.

  • Get a booster shot. We strongly encourage everyone who is vaccinated to get their COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are able. Booster shots have shown to significantly increase the effectiveness of the vaccine against the omicron variant.

  • Get tested. If you are symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, get tested to determine your status. A variety of testing locations and options are available on our campuses. If you test positive, report your status to the COVID Response Team and isolate according to the current guidelines from the CDC.

  • Don’t come to work sick. Monitor your health daily. Don’t come to work if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild ones. COVID-19 symptoms may appear very mild, but that does not mean you are less contagious. Get tested to know for certain.

After nearly two years of battling this pandemic, we have learned that it takes all of us working together and staying vigilant in our Flashes Take Care of Flashes spirit to keep our campus community healthy. 

The situation with COVID-19 is ever-changing, and our prevention measures must be fluid and allow us the flexibility to respond as conditions warrant. Please check your email and university notifications regularly to stay abreast of any changes.

We look forward to your cooperation so that we may all enjoy a safe spring semester.

Sincerely,

Manfred van Dulmen, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
Dean, Division of Graduate Studies
Chair, Pandemic Leadership Committee

Melissa Zullo, Ph.D., MPH 
Interim Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs 
Program Coordinator – Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Professor of Epidemiology, College of Public Health

POSTED: Monday, January 10, 2022 - 9:39am
UPDATED: Monday, January 10, 2022 - 4:36pm