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COVID-19 Update: Continued Planning for Fall 2021

July 6, 2021

Dear University community members: 

While our teams are hard at work to ensure a smooth and successful fall semester, we are eager to share some updates with you about what you can expect during the coming weeks ahead of your return to campus. 

A “fully-vaccinated” SLU community is key to us returning to normalcy in the fall. A fully-vaccinated community does not mean that 100% of individuals are vaccinated; it allows for those with approved exemptions to be unvaccinated.

Having a fully-vaccinated community means all of us — people who are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or who are granted a University-approved exemption from vaccination — can work, study, teach, research, minister, dine and socialize without face masks and social distancing. It will be joyous for us to be in community once again. 

We know many of you have been awaiting more information about the details of the University’s vaccine requirement, whether we will still have to use #CampusClear, and what on-campus events can/will look like –– among other things. 

Preparing for the Fall Semester 

We continue to work on refining our COVID-19 prevention guidance for the fall semester, but here are some elements you should anticipate as a fully-vaccinated campus: 

Move-in and Regular Asymptomatic Testing  

SLU will require asymptomatic testing at move-in only for those students living on campus who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Residential students with University-approved exemptions will need to be tested before move-in. We also will offer optional testing for students living off campus who haven’t been vaccinated and are seeking peace of mind.

Students who are fully vaccinated will not be tested at move-in.

As soon as we have more information about what testing during move-in will look like, we will let you know. We hope to have that information to you by the beginning of August. 

As we’re expected to be a fully-vaccinated campus this fall, the University is not planning to conduct regular asymptomatic testing for students throughout the semester, as we did last academic year. But we will conduct cluster testing of unvaccinated students, and possibly vaccinated students, if we see disease spread among small groups of individuals.

And we may conduct broader asymptomatic testing if infection rates were to spike on campus and/or in the St. Louis community. In short, we will do all we can to monitor and actively manage the risk of infection for students, staff and faculty. But, as Dr. Pestello has said many times, vaccination is our best and most protective COVID-19-prevention protocol.

Our student-athletes will fall under NCAA guidelines on COVID-19 testing. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement 

We are grateful for the many questions from the SLU community about the recently-announced COVID-19 vaccine requirement and appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through logistical issues surrounding the new policy.

With the help of our ITS colleagues, we are developing an online portal that will allow faculty, staff and students to upload their proof of vaccination. Those seeking a religious or medical exemption from the vaccine requirement can use the portal for that as well. 

We anticipate the portal will go live during the week of July 11.

Proof of vaccination

Religious or medical exemptions

The CDF noted that “... all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.” Further, the CDF observed that “ … from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.” 

At the time of this letter, of the three vaccines most readily available in the U.S., the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not developed using fetal cell lines. The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine was created in a more traditional manner. Nonetheless, the CDF guidance holds that should the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine not be available or that one’s personal risk requires a “one and done” vaccine, one should accept a J&J or other similar vaccine in support of the common good.

Contract Employees 

The University’s vaccine requirement also applies to contract employees, including those working for our food partners at Sodexo, our Allied security partners and those involved in technical services and construction. 

Sodexo, Allied and all other contract employers will be responsible for managing and enforcing our vaccination requirement for their employees, including collection of proof and processing exemption requests.

The work ahead of us is daunting — just as it was a year ago when we embarked on a commitment to return to residential living and in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester. But we continue to feel immense gratitude to many of you who are bringing innovative ideas and unending hope for a back-to-normalcy fall semester. We offer enormous thanks to those who are helping us think through and help execute our plans. And gratitude for your patience as we continue to work out logistical issues for fall planning.

I look forward to seeing your faces –– your whole faces! –– very soon. 

Stay safe and be well, 

Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., RN, CIC, FAPIC
Special Assistant to the President
Director, Institute for Biosecurity
Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
College for Public Health and Social Justice