Student COVID-19 Protocols for Events

To Our Students:

With classes commencing today and varsity athletic competitions starting Wednesday, I want to provide guidance regarding another essential aspect of an in-person campus experience: events

You need only glance at the university’s events calendar to see the abundance of opportunities to gather—from barbecues and ice cream socials to organizational meetings, movie nights, and more. We want you to enjoy these activities—especially after more than a year of always being apart—and also want to see them continue throughout the semester.

How do we achieve both goals? By demonstrating the kind of intelligence that earned you admission here in the first place. You’ve already achieved impressive vaccination rates and begun (and in some instances, finished) baseline COVID-19 tests. Most of you have been good about wearing your masks and maintaining physical distance when necessary. We just have a few more rules we want you to keep in mind.

  1. Do not attend events if you have COVID-19 symptoms—even if you’re fully vaccinated.
    In fact, you should not go anywhere on campus—and, if you live in a residence hall, you should remain there. In all instances of symptoms, contact University Health Services at 216.368.2450 for guidance.

  2. Hold gatherings outside when possible.
    Cleveland’s weather is (mostly) wonderful in early fall, and transmission risks are significantly lower.
  3. If indoors, make sure to wear your mask.
    No amount of protection is perfect, but vaccination and masking are among the most effective dual combinations against COVID-19.

  4. If indoors, also consider reducing the number of invitations—and/or selecting larger venues.
    By now most of you have heard the term “Swiss Cheese Model” in terms of pandemic defense. In simplest terms, the more layers of protection you have, the less likely you are to become infected. (For more on the subject, see this New York Times article that quotes our two-time alumna Julie Gerberding, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.)

  5. And be smart about refreshments.
    The best option is to provide wrapped or boxed items that people can eat later, but if food and/or drink need to be part of the event, please avoid buffets or similar arrangements where people are close together and sharing large utensils like serving spoons. In addition, put your mask back on once you’ve finished eating.
  6. Finally, any event involving 50 or more participants and including people not affiliated with the university requires submission of a plan be submitted for review and approval by the university’s COVID-19 operations group.
    As a first step, share your proposal with your organization's advisor, coach or other staff member involved. This individual will submit the final document to the group. Requests for events involving people not affiliated with the university must be submitted to the group at least two weeks before the date of the event.

Like you, I wish so many measures were no longer necessary. But so long as Delta continues to contribute to increasing infections, we must take extra precautions to protect one another—and continue to be able to enjoy all of the benefits of a fully in-person semester.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs