Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Hopkins community on March 31, 2021.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Thanks to your careful compliance with our public health safety measures, we are now past the midpoint of the spring semester with continued low rates of COVID-19 infections on campus. Since the spike in cases in early February, new infections among students have remained consistently in the low single digits per day, even as we have gradually loosened some of the restrictions imposed to prevent the virus’ spread.
In light of this continued success, we are pleased to let you know that as of today, we are increasing the gathering limits for undergraduates to 10 people inside, which is the same as the level for faculty, staff, and graduate students, and expanding the limit outdoors for all members of the JHU community to 25 people. As a reminder, you still need to follow all other COVID precautions when gathering—wear a mask and maintain physical distance. If you are gathering indoors, the space must be large enough to accommodate the number of people attending while properly distanced 6 feet apart.
We would also like to take this opportunity to reinforce several key policies related to our community’s health during the pandemic:
COVID testing requirements for undergraduates remain unchanged at three times per week. This frequent testing has played a crucial role in our ability to detect new cases quickly so that we can isolate infected individuals and trace any meaningful contacts they may have had with others. We know that such frequent testing can be an inconvenience, but we expect it will be necessary at this level through the end of the semester. Once-weekly testing remains required for faculty, staff, graduate students, trainees, and postdocs who are either participating in or directly supporting in-person, on-campus classes (with exceptions for clinically based instruction) or regularly exposed to undergraduates, or as required by your school.
Nonessential travel outside of the Greater Baltimore area is strongly discouraged for undergraduates at any time. Undergraduate students are required to register personal travel with Prodensity so they can receive support for prompt testing and self-quarantine upon return. A negative test is required before resuming in-person activities. We urge other students, faculty, and staff to understand the risks before undertaking personal travel. Before making personal travel plans, please review the CDC’s travel guidance. All nonessential university-sponsored travel (both international and domestic) remains suspended.
If you experience symptoms of stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, or fatigue this spring, please remember that these are also symptoms of COVID-19 and do not assume that they are just spring allergies. There have been several members of our community who initially thought they were experiencing allergies, but testing revealed they actually had COVID-19.
When you complete your daily Prodensity health check, please answer the following question honestly (regardless of your past medical history): “Do you currently have any of these symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, acute loss of taste or smell, headache, diarrhea/vomiting, new fatigue/muscle aches or runny nose/congestion that began in the last 72 hours?” If your answer is “yes,” please call the Johns Hopkins COVID Call Center (833-546-7546) for assessment. If you qualify for testing, the center will help arrange a testing appointment at one of our symptomatic testing locations for timely and accurate results. It is very important that you DO NOT schedule a test at one of the asymptomatic testing locations in this situation as this may increase infection risk for other members of the community.
If you have a negative COVID test, a history of allergies, and no change in your symptoms, then is it safe to assume that you are having your usual spring allergies and you do not need to continue answering “yes” to your Prodensity health check or contacting the JHCCC. However, if your symptoms go away and come back, or if your symptoms worsen/change, then we encourage you to contact the JHCCC again for assessment.
A message yesterday about Maryland’s expansion of COVID vaccination eligibility contained an error. On April 13, all those age 55 and over will be eligible, not all those over age 50. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
This semester has been a challenge for all of us, but we greatly admire your ability to focus on your work and studies while simultaneously finding new ways to connect with each other as a community. You have taken to heart the responsibility we all have to protect one another during this pandemic, and we ask that you please continue to dedicate yourselves to the principles of the JHU Social Compact so that we can conclude this academic year safely.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs