Dear Vanderbilt staff,
I am writing to follow up on the Dec. 30 community message and to share more guidance specifically for staff ahead of the spring semester.
While the start of the semester is delayed until Jan. 17 for most students, our staff winter break will conclude as scheduled on Jan. 3. We want members of our campus community to return to work as healthy as possible.
To achieve this goal, we are expanding our testing program for on-campus staff to include a return to campus testing program after winter break; a sentinel, or random sample, program that will test a rotating sampling of staff, students, faculty and postdocs; and an asymptomatic program that will require tests on a frequency linked to an individual’s choice to provide proof of their vaccination/booster status. All testing is designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in light of the highly contagious omicron variant and to provide the information we need to keep our community as safe as possible.
- Beginning Jan. 18, proof of a booster will be required for you to be exempt from regular asymptomatic testing. Submit your vaccine or booster record by Monday, Jan. 10, to edu/submit-vaccine to be added to the appropriate testing program.
Return to campus testing
Beginning in January, we will implement a program to test staff groups who are working on campus on a rotating basis as outlined below.
- Testing will be provided through Vanderbilt’s testing center at the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. Hours are available on the Health and Safety Protocols website.
- You will be notified by your administrative leadership when it is time for your team to test. Please do not report to the testing center until you are notified, unless you are required to test under the protocols outlined below.
- Staff should continue to work (and follow all health and safety protocols) until receiving their test result. If negative, you should continue to work as normal. If positive, the Command Center will be automatically notified and will contact you about the isolation period and contact tracing.
- As a reminder, if you test positive through an external testing program or believe you are a close contact to someone who tested positive, please complete the webform to inform the Command Center.
Beginning Jan. 18, we also will relaunch a sentinel, or random sampling, testing program for groups of asymptomatic students, faculty and postdocs who are working on campus on a rotating basis, regardless of their vaccination and booster status.
Ongoing asymptomatic testing
In addition to the return-to-campus and sentinel testing, the university is expanding the requirements for the existing asymptomatic testing program for faculty, staff, students and postdocs. Effective Jan. 18, individuals must provide proof of a booster, if eligible, to be exempt from the asymptomatic testing program. Submit your vaccine or booster record by Monday, Jan. 10, to vu.edu/submit-vaccine to avoid the requirement of regular testing. Failure to fulfill the appropriate testing requirement may result in discipline for violation of university protocols.
Testing protocols will be as follows:
- Individuals who have not provided any vaccination documentation will be required to test twice a week. These individuals will not be included in the sentinel testing program.
- Individuals who have provided documentation of completed vaccination but not of a booster will be required to regularly test and will be notified about the frequency of the tests. These individuals will not be included in the sentinel testing program.
- Individuals who have provided documentation of completed vaccination and a booster will be exempt from asymptomatic testing. These individuals will be included in the sentinel testing program.
Our public health experts will continue to evaluate all testing protocols based on trends in positivity rate and case counts and will update them as needed.
We are ramping up our masking protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required indoors on campus at all times, except when eating or drinking or in an enclosed office by yourself. Physical distancing should be practiced when possible, such as when eating or drinking and also when outdoors.
Make sure you have a well-fitted mask that completely covers your nose and mouth, preferably a KN95, KF94 or FFP2 version. Information about improving the protection of masks can be found on the CDC website.
We also are stepping up our compliance efforts surrounding health and safety protocols. Any violations will be referred to Human Resources, and swift action will be taken for any verified incidents of noncompliance.
We will continue to provide you with updates in the coming weeks with more information as the situation evolves. We also encourage you to attend the virtual town hall for staff and postdoctoral fellows on Friday, Jan. 7, at 12:30 p.m.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission, and my best wishes for a happy and bright new year.
Vice Chancellor for Administration