Dear Students, Parents, and Taylor Community,
Happy New Year! I hope that you have been rejuvenated over the Christmas break. We are eager to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus in a few days.
Please read this important update on COVID-19 planning.
Adjustments to the Taylor Together, Again Plan
As you know, the cases of COVID-19 began to spike in October, and Indiana is no exception. While the Taylor University campus has been blessed by relatively low numbers of positive cases, our county and surrounding areas have been hit hard with COVID-19. For the past 10 months, our Pandemic Response Team (PeRT) has been revisiting our safety protocols daily in coordination with Taylor’s Senior Leadership Team. As we prepare for Interterm and Spring semester amidst record numbers of positive cases, we made adjustments that will improve our ability to remain on campus.
We continue to believe God gives us a spirit that avoids fear, expresses love and care for others, and that empowers us with the ability to think and act carefully in order to limit the spread of the disease. We continue to follow federal guidelines, and consult with our local and state authorities and other experts to guide our planning. Confinement indoors during winter weather heightens the need for extra precautions.
PeRT and Senior Leadership at Taylor University continue to believe that in-person education, carefully monitored, and with actions taken with care for others at the forefront of our plan, is still a viable option for our students. However, we are making changes to help us confront the pandemic in a community focused way.
- Get tested before returning to campus
- Students on campus will be tested weekly
- Mask requirements for groups of 4 or more, everywhere
- Campus “quarantine” for the first 2 weeks
1) We continue to strongly recommend that students and employees get a COVID-19 test before returning to campus.
If you test positive, you can recover without the constraints of isolation on campus. We also ask you to report your test results at my.taylor.edu/covidtest. Additional testing information is available here.
2) We will begin on-campus testing every week for our students once they return to campus.
Twenty percent (20%) of students will be tested each day (Mon-Fri) through at least the first two weeks of Interterm. Testing may be extended as needed and will also depend on test availability. This testing plan comes with a benefit: with universal testing participation, we may be able to reduce quarantine requirements for close contacts.
This universal testing plan is not in lieu of getting a test prior to returning to campus.
3) Mask requirements will be extended to the residence halls, when in groups of four or more.
COVID-19 is an airborne virus that spreads quickly between those in close contact. Our own experience during fall semester in the residence halls showed that in a few instances, the virus spread among a wing or floor. Thus, we are expecting students who gather in groups of four or more to wear a mask, even in their residence hall/room as an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. PeRT conferred with Student Body President Emmanuel Terrell and Vice President Anna Craig about masks in the residence halls. Emmanuel and Anna were supportive of this measure and believe that this step will be beneficial for keeping our community healthy.
Boren Student Center. Students have been lax in complying with guidelines, especially proper mask wearing, when in the Boren Center. Eating and drinking were extended over long periods of time as a justification for not wearing a mask. The PeRT considered a number of options for increasing compliance. However, because we know this is a meaningful space for students to engage, we want to give our students another opportunity to respond positively to the expectations that they wear masks and observe social distancing before taking any further steps.
Therefore, please finish eating and drinking in 20 minutes and then return to wearing your masks if you linger to interact or study, whether or not you are sitting with someone else. Also, please honor the seating limits of 2 at high tables, 4 at tables and 6 in booths (and please do not rearrange furniture out of compliance with these guidelines). Even if the group you are sitting with is from your home wing or floor or even if you have the CDC approved 90-day ‘window of immunity’ due to already having contracted the virus, we are asking you, out of an abundance of care, to wear your mask and keep table limits.
4) We ask all employees and students to restrict their public interactions in our community for the first two weeks of the semester.
This does not mean to avoid getting fuel for your car or food for your residence halls. But shopping indoors or dining in restaurants is highly discouraged. We would encourage you to support local food establishments by ordering take-out meals to go, but avoiding entering these public spaces, for the first two weeks. This plan is designed to reduce the possibility of bringing the virus back to campus, or of asymptomatic students spreading the virus to our neighbors in Upland and other local communities.
We support Sunday worship participation at local churches that observe social distancing and mask wearing during their services.
I am confident I can count on your compliance with the increased limitations for at least the first two weeks in order to keep our campus community safe. If our numbers remain low (and we are working on that definition), we plan to gradually increase student freedoms, particularly when the weather permits more outdoor activities.
As always, our goal is to stay together for the entire semester, finishing on campus, together. We believe strongly in our in-person education, and are excited to welcome all of you back to campus in a few days!
Continue to monitor weekly email updates and information/FAQs posted at taylor.edu/coronavirus.
If you have any concerns or observations, please let PeRT know by emailing PERT@taylor.edu.
On behalf of PeRT,
Paige Cunningham PhD, JD