Staff Updates to Support the Start of the Spring Term

Jan. 4, 2022

TO:                  Faculty, Staff, and Researchers

FROM:            Provost Deborah Prentice & Executive Vice President Treby Williams

SUBJECT:       Staff Updates to Support the Start of the Spring Term

DATE:             January 4, 2022

 

Dear colleagues,

Happy New Year! We hope that you found time for fun and relaxation over the holidays. As we prepare for the start of the spring semester during the ongoing global pandemic, we are writing now with updates for staff.

We remain committed to our plans for an in-person semester and do not anticipate significant changes to University operations or activities in the coming term given the mitigations that are already in place. However, the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases among campus members due to the Omicron variant (the campus risk level has been raised to high), and the current testing frequency required of students have significantly increased the demand on the University’s testing lab and our contact tracers.

To reduce the strain on the asymptomatic testing program as students return to campus for the beginning of the term, we are requesting that staff who can conduct their work remotely begin doing so, and remove themselves from the campus asymptomatic testing program, by January 10 and continue through January 31.

Our public health team has not identified an increased health risk to staff on campus during this time. No clusters among staff in office or lab settings were identified in the fall, but we do anticipate a rise in cases as faculty, staff, and students return from Winter Break.

We do not aim to de-densify campus as a means of reducing exposure risk, as we believe that the use of masks and other mitigations we have in place accomplish that goal. But we would like to identify at least 2,000 staff members to work remotely in January. These staff will not participate in the asymptomatic testing program while working remotely, which will relieve the pressure on the testing lab and our contact tracing program as students return to campus starting January 14. All students—undergraduate and graduate—will test twice each week.

Outlined below, please find details about how to request to work remotely in January, as well as a full list of the mitigations in place to support the health and wellbeing of everyone on campus as we start the new year.

Please consider attending a Town Hall this week to hear the latest news from our public health experts and campus leadership. In addition to the events listed below, a USG-sponsored Town Hall for undergraduates is scheduled for January 5; one for graduate students is scheduled for January 12.

  • Staff Town Hall: Thursday, January 6 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. EST
    • Please register to attend and email questions in advance to townhall@princeton.edu. Your questions will help us to determine the information shared during the presentations. Additional questions will be addressed during the town hall as time permits.
  • Faculty Town Hall: Friday, January 7 at 9:00 a.m. EST.
    • A separate email to faculty will follow, with instructions.

 

Remote Work

As a result of the rise in positive cases on campus, we need to limit the number of tests that the campus testing lab and contact tracing program must process as students return. The University also now requires both undergraduate and graduate students to submit test samples twice a week. It is our goal to invite staff back to their previously established work formats on February 1.

Please confirm with your manager if you should work remotely through January 31. Please work with your manager to determine if you perform essential student-facing or research-supporting functions requiring you to continue working on campus during the month of January. If you are approved for remote work, it is important that you do the following:

  • Start working from home by January 10.
  • Submit a testing absence through January 31 to avoid compliance issues.
  • Do NOT submit a test sample until you return to campus after January 31.

All staff members can submit a test sample this week, if they wish, as they gather materials from their offices that will allow them to work remotely.

Staff who need to visit campus after January 10 for 8 hours or less in a week may do so, but should not submit a test in the asymptomatic testing program.

 

Gatherings

As of December 16, 2021, the University community was asked to cancel or postpone all indoor gatherings with food and those where face coverings cannot be worn, through mid-February. The Gatherings Policyapplies to all University-sponsored events on- and off-campus.

While indoor gatherings where face coverings can be worn may go forward as planned, each unit should shift non-essential January gatherings to remote formats or reschedule them for February or beyond. Please work with your department to determine which gatherings are not essential.

 

Visitors to Campus

The Visitor Policy remains in place. Visitors must be sponsored by a faculty person or staff member and granted approval by the head of the department or office to access any campus building. Visitors are permitted outdoors on campus grounds.

While the Visitor Policy has not changed, we would like to limit the number of in-person events in January to those that are essential to allow staff to work remotely.

 

Booster Requirement

All faculty, researchers, staff, and students are required to receive a booster by January 31 or 30 days after they become eligible.

After receiving a booster, staff and faculty must enter their updated status to VacStatus; students will upload their status to MyUHS by January 31.

Compliance with the vaccine policy for faculty, researchers, and staff is required for continued employment. Student compliance with the vaccine requirement is necessary to access campus facilities and continue progress to degree.

Visit the COVID Resources site for frequently-asked-questions about boosters and the University Vaccination Clinic schedule.

 

Isolation and Quarantine Updates

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated their guidance regarding isolation—the period one must isolate following a positive test result—from 10 to 5 days. However, the New Jersey state guidelines do not yet allow this new protocol to apply to higher education. As a result, the University will continue to require people who test positive to isolate for 10 days, until further notice.

The CDC has also updated their guidance regarding quarantine, which separates and restricts the movement of those exposed to COVID-19 to monitor whether they become ill. Anyone who is not vaccinated or has not yet received a booster despite being eligible for one and is identified as a close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID may be asked to quarantine for 5 days.

 

For nearly two years, Princeton’s University community has persevered during an extraordinarily difficult time. You have adhered to public health guidance and fostered an environment that supports in-person scholarship and experiences which are the hallmark of a Princeton education. 

Our sincere thanks for your continued compliance, patience, and compassion for one another as we start a new year.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah Prentice, Provost

Treby Williams, Executive Vice President