January 10, 2022

A Start-of-Spring Semester Message from Dean Lang

To: Liberal Arts Undergraduate Students

From: Dean Clarence Lang

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

Happy New Year! I hope you had a relaxing break, and I hope that you, your friends, and loved ones have managed to remain healthy amidst the recent COVID-19 resurgence. Like a few others with whom I have spoken since returning to Sparks Building last week, I had worrisome encounters over the break that involved contact with family members who tested positive for the virus, which unfortunately disrupted holiday plans to spend time with loved ones I had not seen in person since the pandemic began. Although I am grateful that I am fully vaccinated and boosted, and consistently mask in public indoor spaces, these experiences were a reminder that COVID is real, continues to evolve, and touches us all in multiple, often intimate ways. I again urge those of you who can be safely vaccinated, and boosted, to do so as we begin another semester under these conditions.

While plans to provide students a full on-campus experience this spring remain unchanged, the health and safety of our community will continue to be a priority in the University’s decision-making throughout the semester. This includes the continuation of procedures that we all grew accustomed to this fall, such as wearing masks inside all buildings and indoor public spaces (hallways, stairwells, restrooms, etc.), and weekly testing of students and employees who have not been vaccinated. The University also encouraged students regardless of vaccination status to be tested before returning to campus for the spring semester. If you were not able to do so before returning and are asymptomatic, I strongly encourage you to visit the White Building testing site to be tested.

Students who experience COVID-19 symptoms at any point during the semester should seek out symptomatic testing through a University or local health care provider, and they should isolate and be in contact with University contact tracing to get advice on isolation and quarantine requirements. Students who test positive using University testing resources will be contacted by contact tracing. Students who test positive using outside test resources should refer themselves to contact tracing through myUHS or by calling 814-863-8800.

For those who remain unvaccinated or are in need of a booster, University Health Services (UHS) will be offering first and second vaccine doses by appointment on Wednesdays and boosters by appointment on Thursdays and Fridays. Depending on demand, UHS may devote more time on Wednesdays to administer boosters. Schedule an appointment or learn more.

It is apparent to me that COVID-19, no matter how weary we have grown by its presence, will be with us for some time. But it is also apparent that we have made great strides in

fighting this pandemic and that by continuing to commit individually and collectively to doing everything we can to mitigate its spread, we can return to a better state of affairs sooner rather than later. I applaud our students for all they have done in that regard so far, and I ask that you continue to stay the course, take care of yourselves, and keep others out of harm’s way. I also ask for your patience and flexibility should changing pandemic conditions cause the University to re-evaluate plans currently in place for the semester and/or require any of your instructors to temporarily offer a class remotely rather than in person.

I hope your first few days of classes go well, and I hope you have a wonderful spring semester. I look forward to talking with you again soon.


Dean Lang