COVID-19 Booster Requirement - December 15, 2021
Dear Simmons Community,
I write today with an important update on COVID-19 and our continued efforts to ensure the health and safety of our community during the pandemic.
Following the same process from this fall with input from the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force and our public health experts, Simmons has decided to require a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for all campus-based employees and undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled on our campus during the spring semester. The requirement also includes students who participate in face-to-face curricular and co-curricular activities at any of our Boston or remote locations, including all face-to-face classes, immersion weekends, off-site cohorts, and other in-person events at these locations. It does not apply to individuals previously granted a religious or medical COVID-19 vaccine exemption.
As you may know, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a booster for all individuals eighteen and older, and the extra protection is even more important given the rise of the Omicron and other variants. Our campus-based community members should get their COVID-19 booster by January 18, 2022, or 14 days after they become eligible for the booster. Individuals become eligible for a booster six months after their second Pfizer or Moderna dose, and two months after the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose.
COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in preventing severe illness, and we believe that requiring a booster is the best way to ensure a vibrant on-campus living and learning experience in 2022. We are making this decision now to give students, faculty, and staff ample time to plan. We hope everyone who is eligible will get their booster during the winter break. Simmons is also looking into the possibility of hosting an on-campus clinic next semester. Please be on the lookout for more details about a potential clinic and how to submit proof of the vaccine booster in the coming days.
Please submit questions to [email protected] and read the vaccine-related FAQs.
Health and Safety during Finals and Winter Break
COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and across the country have risen dramatically over the past few weeks. As we approach the winter break, we want to reiterate the importance of taking the necessary steps to help prevent the spread of the virus. We understand that some in our community want to celebrate the end of the semester and holiday season with social gatherings, but please avoid situations and activities that increase the risk of transmission to yourself and others. Please also continue to wear masks indoors and in outdoor group settings if distancing is not possible. Avoid crowded public settings whenever possible. If you test positive during the break at an off-campus testing site, please report it to [email protected] before you return to campus.
If you are planning to travel domestically or internationally during the winter break, please continue to follow the best practices for safety. This includes paying close attention to the specific requirements for your destination and return to Massachusetts and getting tested before and after travel. Please also keep in mind that COVID-19 requirements can change quickly in response to local public health data.
Spring COVID-19 Testing
During the spring semester, Simmons will continue weekly COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty, and staff who are on the Boston campus at least one day a week – regardless of vaccination status. The testing site will be moved from the Linda K. Paresky Center to the Special Functions Room (Main College Building, Room A-070) when our community returns from winter break in January. We will continue to evaluate the necessity of weekly testing as the semester goes on.
Given evolving pandemic conditions and the rise of new variants, we are in the process of finalizing COVID-19 testing requirements prior to your return to campus for the start of the spring semester. Please be on the lookout for an email about pre-arrival COVID testing requirements in the coming days.
While we look forward to a lively spring semester experience on campus, we are mindful of the fact that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Massachusetts and in many parts of the country. We urge everyone to continue to follow local, state, and federal health guidance during the break. Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our community safe. We wish you a happy and relaxing holiday season.
Lynn Perry Wooten
The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force