Friday, Jan. 7, 2022

Dear Students,

I am pleased to be among the first to wish you a happy New Year. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to interrupt our normal celebratory activities, but I hope you had the opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones during the holidays.

Prior to the break we explained that the University was carefully tracking the Omicron variant and a forecasted surge of the virus in January. As you will be aware, we are currently experiencing a sharp growth in cases locally regionally, throughout the Commonwealth and across the US. With this in mind, we are writing to you with finalized information about our spring plans.

Wilkes University will begin the spring 2022 semester with a temporary shift to an online format. All classes slated to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 18 will do so remotely. This includes labs and any biology or environmental science courses with field components. Faculty members will contact you with specific information on how each individual class will be conducted. Wilkes will transition back to face-to-face classes on Monday, Jan. 31. If you have off-campus internships, clinicals or experiential learning, please consult with your department leaders for more information on those experiences.

Residential Housing Options

We know that personal circumstances or technology limitations may necessitate a return to campus sooner. Therefore, moving back to residence halls will be flexible. Residence halls will open on Sunday, Jan. 16. You will be required to register for a move-in time that includes a return COVID-19 test. More information about this process will be shared with all residential students by the Office of Residence Life.

You may also opt to remain at home during the nine days of remote instruction. It is important to note that all residential students will continue to be charged for room and board for the period of virtual instruction. Room and board will not be reduced for those who choose to remain off campus for any amount of time during this period. Dining services will continue to be offered.

Return Testing

As noted previously, all students (along with all our employees) are required to be tested before returning to campus regardless of their vaccination status. Many pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS, as well as regional health departments and urgent care centers are offering asymptomatic testing. A PCR nasal test, saliva test or an antigen/rapid test are accepted. As previously noted, home testing kits will not be accepted. Tests must be completed at an official testing site.

  • Residential students: Students moving into Wilkes residence halls will be tested upon their arrival, prior to moving in. If you test positive, you will be required to isolate at home. You can return to campus after being cleared by Health and Wellness Services. Residential students are encouraged to test at home before traveling to campus in order to avoid unnecessary travel but will also be tested upon arrival.
  • Commuting and off-campus students: Students who do not live in a campus residence hall must submit the results of a COVID-19 test taken within five days of Jan. 31. This policy applies to all full- and part-time students, graduate or undergraduate, who will be attending any classes, activities or co-curricular experiences on campus during the spring semester.

Fully online students who do not have regular activities on campus do not need to submit test results. Students who are traveling to campus from abroad should upload the results of the test taken before they board their international flight.

Mitigation Efforts

Wilkes continues to require face masks in all indoor campus locations, regardless of vaccination status. With the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is strongly recommended that you wear a KN95 or disposable surgical face mask in lieu of cloth masks. If you must wear a cloth mask, you should layer several masks for the best protection. Neck gaiters do not provide the necessary level of protection and should not be used.

Vaccinations and Boosters

The science is clear that booster doses offer significant protection from emerging variants. We urge you to receive your booster dose as soon as you are eligible. Being eligible means six months have passed from your final dose of your initial Moderna series, five months have passed from your initial Pfizer series or two months have passed since receiving the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. If you have not yet been vaccinated, you should begin your series immediately in order to avoid serious illness, hospitalization or death. Check for vaccination clinics near you.

It is imperative that you notify the University of your vaccination status since that will determine your isolation and quarantine protocols should you be infected or exposed. As you receive vaccination or booster doses, please upload that information.

We understand that this may not be the way you hoped to start the new year. Please know that this nine day remote start represents a temporary shift. It is designed to help us get through the worst of the surge as safely as possible while allowing those who have been infected or exposed to recover and quarantine at home.

If you have any questions, please consult our FAQ which continue to be updated with information for the spring semester. I look forward to welcoming you all back to campus as soon as possible.