Our Plans for the Spring Semester

Jan. 7, 2021

Vincent D. Rougeau, president of the College

Dear Members of the Holy Cross Community:

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. As we prepare for the start of the spring semester, I would like to share our adjusted plans to keep our campus both healthy and functional during the latest surge in COVID cases. 

As we all have seen, the Omicron variant has created staffing and operational challenges for a wide variety of organizations. We are concerned about the spread of the virus impacting our ability to operate effectively, provide appropriate care for symptomatic students and successfully complete the semester’s planned academic coursework. Our goal is to minimize disruption and ensure an uninterrupted semester with operations that are as normal as possible.

To that end, we will employ a staged return to campus and implement a number of other policies intended to reduce the spread of the virus and allow us to operate campus safely.

  • Phased return to campus: We are looking forward to the start of the semester. Classes will begin on time on January 24. For the first week of the semester, beginning Jan. 24, all classes will be conducted virtually. Students may choose to return to campus and take classes from their residence halls or other locations on campus, or take classes from home.

    For the second week of the semester, beginning Jan. 31, faculty may choose to hold in-person classes or continue to teach virtually. Students may choose to continue learning remotely for the week of Jan. 31. All students should plan to return to campus by Feb. 4 so they can have at least one on-campus COVID test before returning to in-person learning. Beginning Feb. 7, the third week of the semester, all classes will be held in person.

    This staged approach will allow students whose pre-arrival test is positive (see below for testing details) to isolate comfortably at home while still keeping up with coursework. More information about scheduling your arrival time will be forthcoming.

    We will offer "grab and go" dining options to start the semester, with a transition to in-person dining as soon as we are able.

  • Booster shot requirement: We remain committed to having a fully vaccinated campus. Fully vaccinated means boosted. As I previously communicated, we will require all faculty, staff and students to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.

    Faculty and staff members must upload a record of their booster shot to HC Clear by Jan. 24, or within two weeks of being eligible for the booster. Students must upload their booster record into their patient portal prior to returning to campus, or within two weeks of being eligible for the booster. Those who initially received the Pfizer vaccine are eligible for a booster five months after their second dose. Those who received the Moderna vaccine are eligible six months after their second dose. Johnson and Johnson recipients are eligible two months after their vaccine was given.

    As with earlier vaccine requirements, we will consider applications for medical/religious exemptions.

  • Testing: We will continue with our testing protocols for all faculty, staff and students, and will update you on procedures for arrival testing soon.

    It is important that anyone who tests positive before returning to campus notify the College. Students should email healthservices@holycross.edu with a record of their test result. Employees should contact Human Resources.

    Students will be required to test prior to arriving on campus. We will require a negative PCR test within 72 of arrival or a negative rapid antigen test within 24 hours. I encourage you to start planning and scheduling for your pre-arrival testing now.

  • New mask standards: Because of the extremely transmissible Omicron variant, cloth face masks alone are no longer sufficient protection. The data demonstrate that surgical or medical grade masks do a better job of preventing transmission. Upgrading the type of mask that we are wearing now can reinforce that barrier of protection to offset the protection we have lost due to biological changes to the virus.

    All students, faculty, staff and visitors will be expected to wear surgical-style masks, KN95, KF94 or N95 masks.

  • Attendance at athletics events: As our athletics department announced yesterday, we will temporarily suspend all spectators from athletics events beginning this weekend. We will continue to evaluate this policy over the coming weeks. 

We will share further updates in the coming days, or as soon as they become available. More information on our adjusted spring 2022 protocols and guidelines will also be added to our COVID-19 Response website as it becomes available. We will continue to plan purposefully, minimize risk, share information widely, and optimize our ability to maintain campus operations for all who work, live and learn here. If you have specific questions after you receive the detailed information, please email coronavirus@holycross.edu so that they can be addressed appropriately.

I sincerely appreciate the diligence and care our Holy Cross community showed for one another and for our COVID-19 protocols during the fall semester. I’m confident that our College’s spirit of shared responsibility will continue to guide us through these uncertain times.

With gratitude,

Vincent D. Rougeau