Administration Building on a sunny spring day
1.05.2022
By Roanoke College News

Return to campus update: Booster shot requirement

Dear Maroons,

We hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying a restful break. As we prepare for a safe return to classes for the upcoming spring semester, we are once again relying on you to make health and safety a top priority. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant is spreading fast and COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly across the country. In Virginia, case numbers continue to rise with over 15,000 new cases reported in the Commonwealth on Tuesday. We are monitoring conditions closely, and plan to follow the latest CDC and VDH guidance to best serve our community. As we plan to return to campus and prepare for as normal operations as possible this semester, we will need to adapt to the frequently changing COVID-19 conditions and we ask for your flexibility and patience as we work to keep our community safe.

Just as we did for the COVID-19 vaccine in the fall semester, Roanoke College will require all students to receive the COVID-19 booster shot within 30 days of being eligible. Any of the available booster vaccines will qualify for this requirement.

If you are currently eligible for the booster, you must submit your proof of booster vaccination by January 31. Most people on campus had their original vaccination in the summer and should be eligible for a booster now. The booster is free and readily available across the country. If you have had COVID-19 recently, the booster is still recommended by the CDC. Boosters provide the best chance to limit the spread of COVID-19, severity of illness and protect against new variants. As with our initial vaccination requirement, students will be able to apply for religious and medical exemption consideration.

Our low number of positive cases throughout the fall semester is a testament to how well vaccines, masks and our testing worked. However, we continue to track the concerning rise in cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in our region.

Additionally, there are several groups of students on campus now and unfortunately a significant amount of positive COVID-19 cases have been traced. As of today, we have 31 student cases (six are living on campus). We also have seven employee cases.

“As we plan to return to campus and prepare for as normal operations as possible this semester, we will need to adapt to the frequently changing COVID-19 conditions and we ask for your flexibility and patience as we work to keep our community safe.”

Tom Rambo, Dean of Students

Vaccinations and boosters are important steps in being able to start the spring semester in person. We must also be vigilant in following safety protocols. Below are several steps students need to take to prepare for the start of the spring semester:

  • When you receive the COVID-19 booster shot, please log in to the student health portal and upload an image of your vaccination card or attach a .pdf copy of your card to an email to healthservices@roanoke.edu. There is no need to do both.
  • If you haven’t had a flu shot, this is a good time for one. There were many cases of flu on campus this fall and those students were quite ill. The flu shot is excellent protection.
  • Masks will continue to be an important part of our toolkit for a healthy campus. The College strongly encourages the wearing of KN95 masks or surgical masks — these will provide better protection from both COVID-19 and the flu.
  • Proof of a negative home COVID-19 test result is required when returning to campus. Students were given test kits before they left campus. This test must be conducted just before your return and a reminder will be sent regarding testing prior to arrival. (Other forms of testing are also acceptable.)

We will be updating the Healthy Campus website with any new protocols. Please keep an eye on your email and our website to stay up to date on possible changes to the spring semester opening instructions or other important information.

Reach out to questions@roanoke.edu with any questions you may have.

Enjoy the remainder of your break and remember to practice healthy habits. We look forward to seeing a healthy you this semester!

Tom Rambo

Dean of Students