Weekly COVID-19 Update: Aug. 16, 2021

Published:
August 16, 2021

Dear Grinnellians,

SHAW cares deeply about your health and the health of our community. We are proud of the commitment our students, faculty, and staff are making every day to prevent Covid virus transmission.

If You Are Still Weighing Whether to Get a Vaccination

The most important action we can take to help end this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, free, and provide a very high degree of protection from serious illness. Please speak with your healthcare provider if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about vaccination options and effectiveness here.

How to Make Appointments to Get the Vaccine

You can use the Iowa COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter site to quickly find pharmacies that offer appointments for the vaccine. Hy-Vee has been administering vaccines at their pharmacies. Click on the following to sign up online for an appointment at a HyVee.

Vaccination Reporting for Employees

The College has extended the vaccination policy to require that faculty and staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19, with a minimum of at least one CDC-approved vaccination dose completed by Friday, Aug. 27. Employees seeking religious or medical exemptions should contact Jana Grimes in the Human Resources Office by August 27.

All employees must upload their current vaccination information by Aug. 27 via the SHAW portal. The College will continue to make COVID-19 time-off hours available for vaccine appointments or immune response from the vaccine.

COVID-19 Related Protocols on Campus

All campus community members and visitors are required to mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Exceptions include:

  • Students do not need to wear masks in their rooms. Masks are required in shared spaces within the residence halls.
  • Students may remove their masks when seated in the dining hall. Masks are required when selecting food items. Faculty, staff, and visitors are not allowed in the dining hall at this time.
  • Faculty, staff and students do not need to wear masks in a closed space when they are the only one present.

Faculty and staff indoor dining with others is not allowed at this time. Instead, they should work with their supervisors to identify spaces that can be reserved for meal breaks or they should dine in outdoor spaces.

Individuals are welcome to wear a mask at any time, including outdoors.

Testing

The College is assessing what on-campus COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff, and students might look like this fall. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

  • Students who are symptomatic can contact SHAW at 641-269-3230 to schedule a test.
  • Employees may obtain a test and medical attention through their regular care provider. Additionally, PCR and rapid antigen testing is available through Hy-Vee; at-home PCR testing kits are available through Test Iowa; and at-home rapid antigen tests are available through retailers such as Walmart.

Delta Variant (As of August 16, 2021)

As SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate, the CDC has identified a highly transmissible variant of concern known as Delta. Most U.S. states and jurisdictions are experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase, especially in communities with lower vaccination coverage. According to the C.D.C., this variant is now responsible for approximately 97.4% of COVID-19 infections in the United States and 99.5% of infections in Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), with a large number of these infections among unvaccinated people.

Grinnell College is monitoring the spread of the Delta variant as well as campus and local vaccination rates. Currently, Campus Activity Level Green guidelines are in effect, with the additional precaution of everyone masking while indoors and indoor dining being limited to vaccinated students.

Concerned About Those Who Increase Risk Due to Non-Compliance?

Most members of our community do a terrific job of following public health guidelines, but occasionally, some may put the community at risk due to non-compliance. As a reminder, Grinnell College urges you to utilize EthicsPoint to anonymously report observed PPE or other public health policy non-compliance issues. This information will help us understand how to better support our campus community with ongoing education and outreach opportunities.

To Your Health,

Terry W. Mason, Ph.D.
Dean for Health and Wellness

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