Change in COVID-19 Policies
I write to share with you that effective May 11, the college will end many of its COVID-19 protocols. This move is consistent with the Biden administration’s recent announcement regarding the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The shift in our approach also follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our advisors from the Mayo Clinic that it is appropriate at this point to consider COVID-19 as one among many infectious diseases that can be prudently managed on an ongoing basis. According to federal data, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95 percent and hospitalizations are down nearly 91 percent. Globally, deaths associated with the virus are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic, which public health experts attribute to vaccinations. Bates continues to strongly encourage employees to be vaccinated and current on boosters.
In light of these developments, Bates will:
- End its employee vaccination disclosure requirement and remove the form for uploading vaccination status as well as the other COVID-19-specific forms and documents from Garnet Gateway. The college will purge images of vaccine records from Bates’ systems.
- Discontinue the policy of providing a separate bank of sick time for COVID-19-related illnesses, which will go back to being handled with sick time and paid time off.
- Recognize that masking is now fully at the discretion of the individual and one may not require others to wear a mask. Those who wish to wear a mask may do so.
- Remove the test requirement for travel and the additional layers of approval for international travel that were implemented due to COVID-19. Note, however, understanding your health insurance, particularly internationally, remains important.
- Sunset the COVID-19 resource page. Resources regarding the Employee Assistance Program, BWell, and other wellness programs will remain available on the Human Resources website.
- Discontinue the COVID-19 vaccination requirement (or proof of a negative test requirement) for guests/visitors.
- Public facing buildings that are actively staffed will have the requirement of keycard access lifted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the campus is open or buildings are staffed for specific purposes. These buildings are Commons, Ladd, Lindholm, Bates Museum of Art, and the Post and Print and College Store access to Kalperis Hall. Meanwhile, over the summer and into the fall, we will convene sessions with students, faculty, and staff focused on keycard access across campus, with the goal of understanding the range of views on how best to balance safety considerations with a desire to maintain a welcoming campus.
Many thanks to all of you for the actions you took over the past three years to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 on our campus, so that we could support the mission of the college and ensure that students were able to advance their educational goals. It has been wonderful this year to see the campus experience return in full form, and I truly appreciate your continuing commitment to making Bates a safe and healthy place to work and learn.