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Message from the President: Fall Opening, Vaccinations, Masks

Updated August 10, 2021

Dear Fellow Golden Bears,

I hope your summer has been enjoyable under favorable conditions wherever you have been, and I wish you more of the same in the remaining weeks before the start of the new academic year!

I write to reiterate that Western New England University will be open for classes as planned this fall and to reassure you that every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of our community members. We have painstakingly followed, and will continue to follow, CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines in formulating our safety plan.

No doubt you are aware from media sources that the delta variant has emerged as the dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S., which is much more transmissible than prior strains. The good news is that vaccinations have proven to be highly effective with less than 0.001% of fully vaccinated people succumbing to the disease. Still, unvaccinated people remain vulnerable and account for nearly all of the new hospitalizations and deaths attributable to COVID-19.

This is precisely why WNE is requiring all students and employees to be vaccinated, except for those receiving medical or religious exemptions, prior to their return to campus. Of faculty/staff/and students submitting COVID-19 documentation, 93% indicated they are fully vaccinated, which bodes exceedingly well for our desire to achieve herd immunity as a campus community. In short, the path to a safe and successful opening of the fall semester is for everyone who is able, to get vaccinated.

Also, consistent with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health mask advisory and CDC guidance on indoor masking in areas where COVID-19 infection is high, WNE is reinstating its indoor mask mandate effective August 9, 2021, which will extend into the first two weeks of the semester but may be lifted depending on the conditions then in effect.

As members of an academic community, we fully subscribe to the validity of scientific research and will continue to rely upon and be guided by the CDC in addition to state and local public health authorities.

Please take a moment to watch my video message on this subject. In the meantime, please continue to do your part in contributing to the safety and well-being of yourself and those around you!

With gratitude,

Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.