Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Johns Hopkins community on February 10, 2021.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We write with the encouraging news that after a spike in COVID cases among Homewood undergraduates last week, new cases have remained in the low single digits for the last several days, indicating that our containment measures have been successful and allowing us to return to in-person classes and other activities tomorrow.
This turnaround is a testament to the strength of our community and the commitment and fortitude of our students, and we thank you for your cooperation and patience with one another through a difficult time.
In order to ensure that we can sustain the current low rate of COVID spread within our community, we will not return immediately to all the policies and protocols that were in place before this COVID cluster. The following rules and guidance will be in effect for undergraduates starting 8 a.m. on Thursday, while we continue to monitor our campus:
5-Person Limit on All Undergraduate Gatherings. This 5-person limit is a stricter standard than the city requires and will apply to all JHU undergraduates, on and off campus, indoors and outdoors, through the end of February. It includes roommates, housemates, and common areas, and both masks and physical distancing are still required. If circumstances allow, we will further relax this rule in March.
Stay-at-Home Orders Lifted. All remaining stay-at-home orders for undergraduates are lifted as of 8 a.m. on Thursday. Students in isolation or quarantine must continue to follow the instructions of our Health & Wellness staff.
Mandatory 3x/Week COVID Testing. Undergraduates on and off campus are required to test 3x per week (e.g. M-W-F or Tu-Th-Sa) for the foreseeable future. This increased level of testing has been recommended by public health experts to more quickly identify and isolate COVID-positive students and begin contact tracing.
Avoid Indoor Dining. We strongly discourage all students from eating or drinking in restaurants or bars even if allowed by local ordinances. These activities are particularly dangerous from a public health perspective because they place you unmasked in close proximity to others indoors.
Outdoor and Virtual Exercise. The O’Connor Recreation Center will reopen on Feb. 22. Students should exercise outside when possible or join our virtual classes. Using an off-campus gym is acceptable so long as you follow the rules of the facility, stay masked, physically distance, and wash hands frequently.
More information about our policies and guidelines is available on covidinfo.jhu.edu, including answers to many frequently asked questions, and resources to help maintain your health and wellness during the pandemic are available here.
Any time you are in doubt about whether a certain activity is allowed, we urge you to remember the seriousness of the pandemic and to err on the side of caution.
In addition, we all have a responsibility to keep our community and our neighbors safe. If you have any concerns or witness behavior that could put our community at risk, please let us know through the LiveSafe app, which is the best way to report issues in real time and provides the option of anonymity. You may also call 844-SPEAK2US to report concerns. The university follows up on all reports.
Last week’s COVID cluster is a reminder of just how quickly the virus can spread, and how careful we all must be in order to carry out our plans for in-person classes and activities this semester. It is also a reminder that we’re all in this together—each individual’s actions can put the community at greater risk or make it safer. We are grateful to all those who made sacrifices in the last week to bring the spike in cases under control, and we join you in looking forward to better days.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being