From Bryan Garey: Help make spring semester successful and safe for our community
To faculty, staff, and wage employees:
The news over the last couple of weeks of rising COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant is hard to hear. Every one of us wants the pandemic to end, but the fact is, COVID-19 isn’t going away.
However, we know what we need to do to mitigate the spread of the virus and the impact on ourselves, our families, and our community. Your commitment to those mitigation steps, including vaccination, staying home when sick, and continuing to wear masks, led to 94 percent of our employees getting vaccinated in addition to seeing very low numbers of positive cases at Virginia Tech during fall semester. That is teamwork at its finest!
Now, as the spring semester begins and we get ready for students to return, we need every employee to work together again. The first part of the semester may be hard with positive tests on the rise due to the omicron variant, but the university is working to ensure we have a plan in place to minimize impacts on students and each other.
We have also learned a lot about the omicron variant in a short time. While it is more contagious than previous variants, evidence is showing that it is significantly less likely to result in serious disease or death, especially for those who are vaccinated and boosted.
Vaccinations, boosters, and good health guidelines continue to be our best defense against COVID-19. That’s why we are asking every employee to do the following to prepare for spring semester:
- Get your booster as soon as you are eligible. Virginia Tech is requiring booster shots within 14 days of eligibility for all students and employees. If you are eligible now, please update your vaccination information in the self-reporting form. If you are not eligible yet, please schedule your booster as soon as you are able to do so. As a reminder, Hokie Wellness is hosting two booster clinics on the Blacksburg campus in January. You may also get a booster at one of the Health Department sites, a local pharmacy, or find one near you through vaccinefinder.gov.
- Report your booster information once you receive it. Students and employees need to upload their updated vaccination record as soon as they receive a booster. Procedures remain in place for students and employees to request medical and religious exemptions. Existing exemptions will be honored. For those with medical concerns about the booster shot, please consult your physician.
- If you feel sick, do not come to work. Notify your supervisor and get tested for COVID-19 where possible. If you have a positive test result, contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that Virginia Tech’s case management team may help you through your illness with information, guidelines, and support.
- If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID, get tested. If you are vaccinated and boosted or vaccinated and not yet eligible for a booster and you do not have symptoms associated with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask at all times. Unvaccinated people should quarantine for five days. Visit the CDC website for more information.
- Continue to wear a mask. With the increase in positive cases, the university continues to require masks for indoor public spaces. With the higher transmissibility of omicron, it is recommended that a better fitting mask, such as a KN95 or equivalent, be worn to improve protection for you and others. More information about masks is available on the CDC website.
Each of us plays an important role in ensuring the health and safety of our community. With every employee following the guidelines outlined above, we will do our part in making the spring semester as successful as fall.
Thank you to our 15,000 employees for all that you do for the Hokie Nation!
Vice President for Human Resources