Welcome back to campus! As we start the fall semester, I write with some reminders of the university's COVID response now that the federal public health emergency has expired in May of 2023.
Here are some of the highlights of the message the COVID Advisory Team sent to all of campus in May 2023:
- Students, faculty, and staff no longer need to report positive tests to the university.
- We are no longer offering isolation housing. If a student tests positive for COVID, we are asking them to stay home, just as they would with any other contagious illness.
- We are no longer providing meal deliveries for students. Students can ask a friend, or if needed wear a mask to get food to go from Goudy.
- We are recommending that all community members stay up to date with their COVID vaccines, but we are not requiring them
- Masks are no longer required in any indoor or outdoor spaces. We encourage people to make whatever masking decisions are best for them.
You may have also heard of the recent increase in COVID nationally and in Oregon. In response to these developments, the Oregon Health Authority published an update earlier this month: "New variant, same message." In it, the Oregon State Epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger reminds that “This kind of change is normal and expected as the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to evolve. But our message to Oregonians remains the same. Our current tools—vaccinations and well-fitting masks—will continue to protect us." Further, he states "We’ve seen a small increase in the COVID-19 hospitalization rate, in Oregon and the U.S., which is primarily affecting individuals 65 and older. CDC forecasts do not predict a significant increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Oregon in the short term."
What to do if you test positive for COVID
Willamette University will follow the Oregon Health Authority recommendations which state that you stay home until you are fever free for 24 hrs and other COVID-19 symptoms are improving, avoid contact with high-risk individuals like people with immunocompromising conditions for 10 days, and wear a mask through day 10. We encourage you to review the current guidance and make the best decision based on your individual circumstances.
Wishing you the best as we head into the fall semester.
Associate Dean of Health and Well-being