Change in Winter Break Return Dates: Memo from Vice President Calhoun and Dean Dolan

Morrison Hall Snow

December 27, 2021

As we look forward to welcoming you back to campus for the Spring term, our primary goal is to maintain in-person classroom instruction and co-curricular activities, including varsity athletics, while also supporting the physical and mental health of our community. We write now with updated protocols to guide your return to campus after Winter Break.

Because the pandemic continues and the highly transmissible Omicron variant presents yet another challenge to public health, the University has decided to organize a gradual return for undergraduate students.

Undergraduate students may return to campus no earlier than January 14, one week later than the previously announced January 7 return date.

Updated modeling suggests that staggering undergraduates’ return over ten days from January 14 – 23 will help flatten the curve of the campus positivity rate, which will allow the University to better respond to the increase in positive cases we anticipate when students come back to campus.

We’re requiring you to register your return so that we can facilitate your COVID testing on arrival and ensure compliance.

In addition, we know that Omicron has disrupted holiday travel and might be a factor in your smooth return to Princeton. We want to give you ample time to schedule safe and easy travel, even if this involves altering your plans. Hardship Funds will be available to some students who incur costs as a result of this change. Please submit an application to the Fund; you will be notified the week of January 3.

All undergraduates must submit a COVID test sample as soon as possible on their return to campus (see the protocols listed below). You must receive a negative test result before attending your first in-person class or campus activity.

Wintersession will still move forward, with some modifications. Please see winter.princeton.edu for details.

Return-to-Campus Timetable

  • Today (December 27) – January 3 at 5 p.m. EST: Registration is open for students to indicate their return date, which is required for all undergraduates. Please select a date between January 14 – 23. Be prepared to submit a COVID test the day you arrive, since you must receive a negative test before you can attend any campus activities and before classes start on January 24.
  • Your prox access will be restored on the date you register to return. On that day, you must submit a COVID test. Those who don’t test immediately on their return date will be out of compliance.
  • January 24: Spring term classes begin. All undergraduates must receive a negative test prior to attending their first class. Students should plan their return date to allow time for their first test sample to be analyzed before their first class. Those who submit samples by 10 a.m. should have results by 10 a.m. the following morning.

Undergraduate students travelling internationally should plan to return to campus early within the January 14 – 23 window, if possible, to allow contingencies for disrupted travel. Those students returning from an international location who find it difficult to postpone their travel until after January 14 may return as originally scheduled, but most notify their DSL.

Return Protocol for All Undergraduate Students

When you arrive on campus, take the following steps until you receive a negative test:

  • Submit a test sample as soon as you arrive. The lab will run every day, including weekends, between January 14 – 23, to facilitate testing and the delivery of results. Test kits will be made available to returning undergraduates as efficiently as possible.
  • Wear a face-covering and stay socially distant from others indoors.
  • Stay in your room as much as possible.
  • Select grab-and-go dining options.
  • Do not enter Firestone Library, any branch library, or Dillon gym.

Boosters

All undergraduate students must receive a booster and update their vaccination information in MyUHS by Monday, January 31, or 30 days after they become eligible. Compliance with the vaccine policy is necessary to maintain prox access to campus facilities and to continue your progress to degree.

When Am I Eligible for a Booster?

  • Six months after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine, including Pfizer and Moderna.
  • Two months after the single dose of the J&J Janssen vaccine.
  • Students who received a WHO-approved vaccine that is not Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J should follow the CDC guidelines for boosters.
  • If you are not eligible to get a booster before January 31, 2022, you will have 30 days from the date that you become eligible to enter your vaccine booster information into MyUHS. For example, a student who got their second dose of Moderna on August 15 would be eligible for a booster on February 15 and would need to get a booster and enter their vaccine information in MyUHS by March 17, 2022.
  • Those who are eligible for a booster and have recently tested positive for COVID-19 may delay getting a booster for 90 days after the date of their positive PCR test, though they may choose to get a booster as soon as they complete their isolation period.

Please note: Anyone eligible for a booster may receive either the Moderna or Pfizer version, regardless of their original COVID-19 vaccine. “Third doses” of the vaccine for immunocompromised people will count as a booster for the purpose of this policy.

University Vaccine Clinics will resume offering boosters at Jadwin Gym starting January 5. An updated clinic schedule is available on the Princeton COVID Resources site. To search for booster clinics anywhere in the U.S., visit www.vaccine.gov. Please note that University clinics will not offer the J&J vaccine.

Isolation Housing Update

The staggered return after Winter Break and mitigations such as wearing face-coverings indoors and testing twice a week will help reduce the campus positivity rate. But we still anticipate higher case counts because of the Omicron variant’s increased transmissibility.

Isolation dorms will remain available but can only accommodate a limited number of students at once. Should we exceed our capacity, undergraduate students who test positive for the virus may be required to isolate in their residence or dorm room. Students who test positive and wish to leave campus to isolate will be able to do so only if they can use a private vehicle.

Students living on campus in singles will be able to isolate in their own room if necessary. Other solutions will be found for those who have roommates. If we see high need for isolation space, we’ll prioritize the isolation dorm for students who share bedrooms.

Updated Travel Policy

Beginning January 8 through mid-February, all undergraduate students who have returned to campus will not be permitted to travel outside of Mercer County or Plainsboro Township for personal reasons, except in extraordinary circumstances. Student groups that currently have events planned for outside Mercer or Plainsboro should contact their sponsoring office for guidance. We’ll revisit and, if possible, revise this travel restriction by February 15.

Gatherings

The restrictions on gatherings implemented December 16, 2021, will continue until mid-February unless conditions change:

  • University-sponsored indoor gatherings on or off campus, including meetings and events with faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and/or approved visitors, may not include food or any activity that requires removing masks.
  • Undergraduate students must continue to observe the 20-person gathering limit in their dorm room, suite, or off-campus housing.

We realize these new protocols will take a moment to absorb. If you have questions about your return date, please contact ODOC@princeton.edu. For questions related to public health guidance, please contact covidconnector@princeton.edu.

Do note, however, that because this is a holiday week, your questions will be answered as soon as possible after staff return on January 3. Our staff will be rested and ready to respond to you after the holiday break.

A USG-sponsored Town Hall for undergraduates will be held January 5 at 4:00 p.m. EST. We look forward to answering your questions live via Zoom then. To join the webinar: https://princeton.zoom.us/j/94825442264?pwd=dUg2UlRkUnRoN0pBbjhJYityeVc2QT09.

Although all of us are exhausted and frustrated by the ongoing COVID pandemic, we must continue to do everything we can to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. Thanks for doing your part. Your compliance with these protocols will allow us to continue the residential, in-person Princeton teaching, learning, and co-curricular experience we all cherish.

We wish you all well as we usher in 2022 and look forward to welcoming you back to campus in January.

Our very best,

Dean Jill Dolan & V.P. W. Rochelle Calhoun