Kent State hosted a virtual town hall for faculty and staff on Thursday to address questions and concerns related to the fall semester 2021.
Panelists included Peggy Shadduck, vice president of regional campuses and dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies; Tara Smith, professor of epidemiology at the College of Public Health; Manfred van Dulmen, Chairman of the Pandemic Leadership Committee, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Division of Graduate Studies; Julie Volcheck, assistant vice-president for student affairs and director of university health services; Jack Witt, vice president of human resources; and Melissa Zullo, Professor of Epidemiology and Acting Assistant Dean of the College of Public Health.
Panelists responded to a range of questions, from college advice on masks and vaccines to the likelihood that students and staff would be asked to resume distance education.
The the university has updated its guidelines on masks On August 3, masks must be worn indoors and on public transport, regardless of vaccination status.
“It’s something we wanted to do because our goal is to stay together, in person, throughout the semester. We want to start safe and stay safe, ”said van Dulmen. “It was not due to a safety concern,… but we had to, as a precautionary measure, go in that direction.”
Kent State also offers testing for asymptomatic and symptomatic people.
“We have testing for asymptomatic people, people without symptoms and possible close contact or exposure on campus,” Volcheck said. “From Monday to Friday, Visit Health provides service, and they are located at the Ice Arena, Eastway Lounge and MACC Third Floor Lodge.
Symptomatic tests will be available at DeWeese Health Center. For more information on the university’s COVID-19 test plan, visit this link. People who test positive for COVID-19 should call COVID Response Team, reachable at (330) 672-2525.
During the town hall, panelists responded to a question asking if faculty and staff had an opportunity to ask students and colleagues about their immunization status.
“The simple answer is no, because knowing that immunization status should not change what the student, or colleague will or will not do,” Volcheck said. “This is personal health information, and if people, through casual conversation, want to disclose it in the office, that is one thing, but no one should ask them outright. Just as we don’t ask about people’s health, we shouldn’t ask about vaccines. “
Volcheck said the university is working on a project that will allow the university to ask people to disclose this information.
van Dulmen said the university does not have a threshold or a number of COVID-19 cases that would result in a shift to fully distance learning at this time. The university, he said, regularly checks its COVID-19 numbers and indicators.
“Thank you for the hard work everyone has done throughout the pandemic,” Shadduck said. “We have had a lot of people on regional campuses, like on campus, who have found safe ways to continue working on site. … Very happy to rediscover the sense of community that comes from working together, the ways in which we can best support students and learning.
A recording of the virtual town hall is available on State of Kent today.
Emma Andrus is a journalist. Contact her at [email protected]