All students, faculty and staff will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 announced in a Dec. 14 campus-wide email.
Community members who are already eligible for booster shots — which can be administered six months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine — will be required to submit proof that they received a booster vaccination by Jan. 26, the first day of classes for the spring semester.
For community members not yet eligible to receive a booster, updated proof of vaccination will be required within 30 days of becoming eligible. Individuals who the University previously approved for vaccine exemptions will continue to be exempt.
Carey cited “increasing cases in Rhode Island and emerging information regarding the Omicron variant” as reasons for the booster requirement “to ensure the spring semester is just as healthy and safe as the fall.” The first case of the Omicron variant in Rhode Island was detected Dec. 11.
The University will also require all students to test negative for COVID-19 within two days of returning to campus for the spring semester. Students who test positive must isolate at home and receive authorization from University Health Services before returning to campus.
Other community members are encouraged but not required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Students will also be required to take two COVID-19 tests in the week they return to campus in the spring, Carey wrote, but further testing requirements will be set based on public health conditions.
Carey also wrote that mask wearing will continue to be required in University buildings and asked students to be respectful of requests by University staff to follow masking guidelines in dining halls, libraries and other indoor spaces.
Despite ongoing public health concerns, Carey expressed optimism about the community’s trajectory in navigating the pandemic.
“The virus, unfortunately, does not care about our fatigue and continued vigilance is required,” he wrote. “The good news is that vaccines, boosters, advances in treatment and basic common sense public health measures are highly effective at preventing this disease, and we enter 2022 in a profoundly different place than at the beginning of this pandemic.”