Across the country, and in various places around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is surging again, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. This is the bad news. The good news is that people who are vaccinated have excellent protection against the worst disease outcomes. Sure, there are breakthrough infections, some of which are symptomatic. But the vaccines protect almost everyone without co-morbidities from hospitalization or death. This is a great thing!
Last year, thanks to the cooperation of students, staff and faculty, Wesleyan was able to protect against the worst outcomes from COVID-19. And this was prior to the availability of vaccines. This year the University will be a vaccinated community, with very few exceptions for medical or religious reasons. With that in mind, though we will still want to exercise caution—especially in regard to indoor gatherings of large groups—we should be able to enjoy the kinds of social interactions and co-curricular experiences that make a residential education so potent and enjoyable.
The University will do everything possible to keep our community safe, while also recognizing that we will be living with the possibility of contracting the virus. Vaccinations should allow us the kinds of freedoms we have grown to expect while living and working on campus. We will require all visitors to campus to have been vaccinated. Of course, people who venture off campus should exercise caution, which will usually mean wearing masks when indoors, washing hands, etc. We can keep each other safe!
This is the time of year I usually begin to feel a sense of anticipation about the semester ahead. Whether I’m working on a syllabus, talking with advisees and colleagues, or planning events, I grow increasingly eager to be back in Wes mode. Sure, I’m nervous about the variants this year, but given the precautions we’ve taken and the cooperation of campus groups, I await the arrival of students and the start of classes with growing excitement.
So, enjoy the rest of the summer, and get ready for a great year at Wesleyan!