Mandatory Surveillance Testing and Masks

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

More than 1,650 students arrived on campus this weekend, and every one of them received a COVID-19 test before gaining access to a housing assignment.

These tests mark the beginning of a required three-week surveillance testing cycle for all students, staff, and faculty who come to campus for any reason—no matter how briefly.

Cuyahoga County’s COVID-19 data from last week moved it into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high transmission” category—the most severe of the four options. Case counts climbed by 28 percent last week, and hospital admissions by nearly 15 percent. 

Please remember: Vaccinated individuals can still be infected with COVID-19 and, in the case of the Delta variant, are as likely as unvaccinated individuals to transmit it to others.

Given this context, we must conduct surveillance tests to assess the extent of COVID-19 infections on campus; this data in turn will inform real-time adjustments to health protocols and other campus operations. 

To ease your access to these tests, the university is offering them at multiple campus locations every weekday through Sept. 10. You can view the full calendar, and re-familiarize yourself with the protocols by visiting the testing webpage. To be clear, this protocol includes three tests, with one taken each week for three weeks.

With regard to masks, they are required at all times indoors when individuals are in the vicinity of other people. They also are required outdoors when individuals cannot maintain 6 feet of distance among one another. We are consulting again with health experts regarding whether teaching faculty can remove masks for educational reasons (e.g., students’ ability to hear them clearly). 

We will provide more specific updates later this week regarding masks and related health matters. For now, we thank the 99 percent of you who have engaged with the vaccine verification process to date by being fully vaccinated, in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or requesting an accommodation.

Thank you all for your efforts to keep yourselves and one another safe.

Eric Kaler

Ben Vinson III

*Those faculty, staff and students who already participated in baseline testing earlier this summer do not have to repeat the process.