SPECIAL COVID UPDATE: Response Planning for January

December 17, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff, 

Whether your Christmas break has begun or soon will, we hope the next couple of weeks are restful and energizing for you. With COVID-19 cases rising nationally and Omicron expected to become the dominant variant, Seattle University will continue to base its decisions and practices on the latest public health guidance, and we will continue to respond with creativity, flexibility and care. Throughout the pandemic and particularly the fall term as we resumed in-person activities, our university has experienced very low infection rates. This is attributable to both the university’s protocols and our campus community’s commitment to one another. 

Our current plan continues to be to resume in-person instruction when we return to campus in January, much as we did this fall. While the university is officially closed over break, we will be closely monitoring the latest developments regarding COVID, particularly Omicron, and we will be responding and adapting as needed to prepare for the next academic term. Central to our planning is the possibility that case counts will continue to rise, perhaps even sharply. Efforts are underway to bring our testing, contact tracing and isolation measures to a scale that best positions us to respond to a spike in infections. 

If we determine there is a need to move to remote instruction for a short period of time at the start of January (e.g., two weeks), we will let you know over the break. However, we do not anticipate the need for students to change their travel plans. Campus and residential halls will be open as scheduled. 

Here’s an overview of the measures that are in place, or soon will be, for winter quarter/spring semester as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. 

COVID Boosters |  The university continues to strongly recommend all community members who are eligible for COVID-19 booster shots to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If you are eligible now, we ask that you get a booster over break. Boosters are critical to the university’s response to COVID and efforts to keep one another healthy and safe. Visit CDC to learn more and find a clinic near you. For those who have not yet reached the six-month mark since completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series, the university is working to bring vaccine clinics to campus regularly during winter quarter/spring semester. 

Testing |  As previously announced, all vaccinated and unvaccinated students who will be physically on-campus for classes or other university activities during winter quarter (spring semester for law students) are required to complete one COVID-19 screening test at the beginning of the term. We are also continuing to review enhanced testing measures and are strongly encouraging students to get tested before they travel back to campus. 

In addition, the university has communicated entry testing and quarantine requirements to students, faculty and staff with approved exemptions. 

Looking beyond entry testing, we are putting in place robust testing protocols for the coming term. These plans are still being finalized and we will communicate the details shortly. 

Contact Tracing |  The potential increased volume of positive cases necessitates that we take a new approach to our contact tracing efforts. Up until now, these efforts have been undertaken by our Department of Public Safety staff. With a possible spike on the horizon, we are shifting to an automated, self-serve model in which the person who has tested positive is responsible for completing a form that will generate notifications to members of the campus community who have been exposed. Those who receive notifications will be provided with the appropriate public health guidance and recommendation to get tested as per CDC guidance. 

Isolation |  Rooms will continue to be set aside in the Yobi, a university-managed apartment building, for on-campus students who test positive for COVID. Priority will be given to students who are unable to isolate in their own rooms.

In addition to these and other protocols, it is important that we as individuals continue to take all the proven measures available to us, such as wearing masks and completing the Safe Start health screening before participating in on-campus activities. Our collective desire to do whatever it took to resume in-person activities this fall was clear to see and that same commitment and care for one another will be our greatest strength as we prepare for the next academic term at Seattle University. Thank you. 


Shane P. Martin, Provost
Campus Opening Co-chair 

Timothy P. Leary, Executive Vice President
Campus Opening Co-chair