COVID-19 Update: Masks at SLU and a Precommencement Announcement
May 14, 2021
Dear faculty, staff, students and parents of Saint Louis University,
Getting vaccinated is the ultimate and essential COVID-19-prevention safeguard.
That fact is supported by yesterday’s announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Today, the St. Louis City Department of Health granted fully-vaccinated persons the option to not wear face masks or have to maintain social distancing. This is welcomed news on our path back to normalcy.
What this means for SLU
All of us are eager to take off our face masks, greet one another with handshakes, high-fives and hugs, and gather together comfortably indoors.
I am pleased to announce that beginning May 19, we will end our face mask and social distancing requirements for those faculty, staff and students who are fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since your second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
These are a few of the questions this change might raise:
- Why not remove our mask and distancing mandates now?
Our way of proceeding is grounded in consultation and dialogue.
We attribute a big part of our success these last 15 months to discussions with our student, staff and faculty leaders. I do not want to shortchange that now, for the sake of expediency.
I know that this change is going to be unsettling to some who have indicated that they will feel unsafe if we relax our protocols. I want to take the next several days to talk with faculty, staff and student leaders about how this might work, and address potential questions and concerns.
I know many of you have left, or will soon leave, for the summer break. But many still remain. I feel compelled to try to ensure that questions are answered and clarity is provided.
- Do you mean no face masks or social distancing anywhere?
Yes, assuming you are fully vaccinated. No more face masks or social distancing in classes, conference rooms, offices, residence hall common areas, libraries, food service areas, etc., effective May 19.
We will rely on the honor system for affirming your vaccine status.
- What if I want to keep wearing my face mask?
Some fully vaccinated University community members are going to feel more comfortable wearing their face masks and remaining 6 feet from others. I have spoken with some of you.
We all will respect those who make this decision.
- What if I’m not vaccinated?
You are required to continue wearing a face mask and maintain 6 feet of social distance from others.
If you’re interested in getting vaccinated at SLU, you can register here. You also are welcome to invite friends and family to get vaccinated at one of our clinics.
- What does this mean for summer classes and training?
Our COVID-19 Response Teams are working vigorously on this and will share an update soon.
- Can I discard my face masks?
Not yet, please.
You are still required to wear a face mask –– regardless of your vaccination status –– while riding public transit and flying on commercial airlines. The CDC and City public health officials have both made this clear.
Face masks also are required to be worn when you visit hospitals and health clinics, including the Student Health Center, Employee Health, and all SLUCare offices. Some local stores, service providers, and restaurants may require a face mask at their establishments.
Please respect those restrictions.
- Are there any changes to pre-commencement safeguards and guest limitations?
The public health pre-commencement plan approved by City public health authorities remains in force. It still requires limited seating, social distancing and face masks for everyone.
With the recently announced public health changes, however, and based on our understanding of how much you wish to add other loved ones to your pre-commencement audience, we are expanding the capacity to the maximum number we believe we can safely manage, in line with our agreements with the City of St. Louis.
Students can now bring a total of FOUR guests to their pre-commencement ceremony.
The next step is to register your guests for pre-commencement.
Students who have registered for an in-person pre-commencement ceremony will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org tonight inviting them to register their guests.
If you previously registered your two guests through your school/college, please do so again, even if your guest list hasn’t changed.
The follow-up email will contain additional information you need to know about commencement, including when guest registration is due.
Finally, I remind you that any supplemental on-campus and off-campus pre-commencement or commencement events by all schools and colleges require approval of the Designated Events Review team.
Fran and I look forward to seeing you as we walk across our beautiful campus in the coming days. I thank each of you for everything you did to contribute to our incredible success this past year.
It was not easy. But each of us should be proud of what we were able to achieve under the unparalleled restrictions and pressures we have faced — together.
May God bless you and Saint Louis University.
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.