Union Seminary to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for students, employees, visitors
RICHMOND, VA (April 16, 2021) – Union Presbyterian Seminary will reopen its physical campuses in the fall and require all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The fall 2021 academic term will begin on the Richmond campus September 7 and on the Charlotte campus September 10, more than 17 months after the coronavirus pandemic shifted seminary classes and operations online. To begin preparations, staff will return to on-campus work August 2 in Richmond and August 3 in Charlotte.
This transition assumes that such a return will be compliant with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and regulations established by state and local authorities in Virginia and North Carolina. Currently, all such regulations indicate that the expectations for reopening our physical campuses in the fall are fully realistic and sensible, President Brian K. Blount said in a statement to the seminary community.
“We have been and continue to be campus communities of care and concern for one another,” President Blount said. “Protocols will be in place to ensure that we are not only protecting ourselves, but, more importantly, that we are protecting our colleagues and friends.”
Until advised, mask-wearing on campus will remain mandatory. And classrooms will be arranged to ensure social distancing. On-campus housing will also be considered with social distancing in mind.
A comprehensive campus reopening plan with more details will be announced soon.
President Brian K. Blount emailed the following statement to the seminary community April 16:
I begin this note with the Apostle Paul’s opening words of grace and gratitude to his beloved church at Philippi: “I thank God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…” (Philippians 1:3-4).
I am grateful for you!
As a community, we have done well this past year. Because of you. Your patience. Your care for each other. Your dedication to excellence in the teaching and learning that happened in the virtual classroom. Your dedication to performing your jobs with creativity and flexibility and stability in these somewhat less than stable days, weeks, and months. In a year filled with unprecedented challenges, UPSem has remained faithfully productive. When the moment came to transition to teaching online and working from home, we did it and we did it well. Now, more than a year later, as we prepare to transition once again, this time back to physical presence on both of our campuses, I pray and trust that we will, once again, make the moves we need to make with grace, patience, and care for one another.
On September 7, the Fall 2021 Academic Term will begin on the Richmond Campus. On September 10, the Fall 2021 Academic Term will begin on the Charlotte Campus. I fully anticipate that, in each case, we will begin those terms in person. In order that we may begin preparations for the opening of our physical campuses, staff will return to on-campus work on August 2 in Richmond and on August 3 in Charlotte.
Our goal, of course, will be to ensure that our return to our physical classrooms and support spaces will be done safely. This transition assumes that such a return will be compliant with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and regulations established by state (VA and NC) and local authorities. At present, all such regulations indicate that the expectations for reopening our physical campuses in the Fall are fully realistic and sensible.
Still, we will proceed with an abundance of caution. We have been and continue to be campus communities of care and concern for one another. Protocols will be in place to ensure that we are not only protecting ourselves, but, more importantly, that we are protecting our colleagues and friends. Until advised, mask-wearing on campus will remain mandatory. And classrooms will be arranged in such a way as to ensure appropriate social distancing. On-campus housing (Richmond) will also be considered with social distancing in mind. Most importantly, the seminary will require that all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus classes and/or activities be fully (Covid-19) vaccinated.
Richmond residential students will have particular questions not only about the start of classes but also about the availability of campus housing. While details on our transition back to physical presence on the two campuses will be forthcoming over the next several weeks, I can share a few brief dates and corresponding comments here.
Students who will be moving to campus housing for the first time or returning to campus housing in preparation for attending Fall classes should advise the seminary housing office of their preferred move-in date no later than July 1. This move-in date should not be earlier than July 7. In order to ensure that staff have sufficient time to clean and prepare rooms for incoming students, students who currently live in, or have lived in on-campus housing, and are graduating this spring will need to move out of their rooms within one week after graduation.
Yes, I know this note raises questions. What about the library? What about ongoing hybrid course possibilities and the opportunity such courses allow for Richmond and Charlotte students to be in class together or for Charlotte students to lessen their commute times?
Fuller details will be forthcoming from various seminary departments and the library over the course of the next several weeks. A comprehensive campus reopening plan is currently being developed and will be published throughout the seminary community soon. I hope that plan will answer many of the questions I am sure this note has raised. Know also, though, that I remain always ready to respond to questions and concerns as you have them. I am an email, phone call, and, come the Fall, an office visit away.
I hope to see you — I mean, really see you — soon.
Union Presbyterian Seminary