COVID-19 | Albright College

COVID-19


The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are our highest priorities. Below are messages to our campus community, helpful FAQs, links to technology and health resources, and information on the Pandemic Planning Task Force and the various subgroups working to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Albright community.

Albright College students and staff are strongly encouraged to get COVID vaccine/booster shots and report vaccination status to the Gable Health Center by uploading a vaccine card photo to the health portal. (Click here for a video tutorial)

Masking indoors is optional for all Albrightians and campus guests. However, faculty, staff and event organizers may require masking in classrooms, meetings and events on campus. See the “Masking” section for more information.


Campus Updates


Albright’s Status

As we return to campus for the fall 2022 semester, Albright’s Pandemic Planning Task Force has been closely monitoring COVID-19 news and guidelines for institutions of higher education. Below are guidelines and information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Vaccines and Boosters

Faculty, students and staff are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine/booster and report vaccination status to the Gable Health Center by uploading a copy of your vaccination card to the health portal. (Click here for a video tutorial).

Considering the high transmissibility of the COVID virus, including the omicron BA.5 sub-variant, Albright College continues to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, through various uses of testing, masking and other protocols per public health guidelines. But the best way to protect everyone is through vaccination. Therefore, because we want everyone to have a rich, engaging and safe experience on campus this year, Albright College strongly encourages vaccination and booster shots for all faculty, staff and students. Free vaccination and boosters are available near any location.

Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and vaccination decreases the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection. However, waning antibody levels have been observed over time, making boosters valuable in ensuring continued protection. Please follow the CDC’s guidance for vaccine and booster dosing.

According to the American College Health Association’s 2022 guidelines, “Persons who have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations with brands approved or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization are considered to be fully vaccinated, even if those brands are not authorized for use in the U.S. While mixing of brands is not recommended by CDC for the primary vaccine series, it is allowed, and persons who are due for a booster should receive a booster dose using an authorized or approved mRNA vaccine.”

Masking

Masking indoors is currently optional for all Albrightians and guests to the campus. With care for those who have continued health concerns, all Albrightians and visitors are asked to respect the following guidelines:

• Faculty may require that students wear masks in their classrooms. Faculty should communicate their masking requirements directly to their students and should apply their requirements consistently.

• Employees and students may require masking from meeting organizers when attending in-person campus meetings.

• Event organizers may require masking at their scheduled events.

• Individual departments may require masking in their respective areas.

• Albright may require events that are open to the public to require masking.

In general, individuals who feel more comfortable wearing a mask should feel free to do so. A KN95 mask is recommended when available. A limited supply of KN95 masks is available through the office of Environmental Health and Safety by emailing kwierzbicki@albright.edu.

The Pandemic Planning Task Force continues to monitor COVID-19 conditions on campus, in Berks County and on the state level, and may put forth new masking recommendations if transmission levels change and COVID-19 cases rise.

Testing and Surveillance

According to the American College Health Association’s latest guidelines, “Approaches to testing for SARS-CoV-2 are dependent on many factors including, but not limited to, local community case numbers and hospitalizations, and local and state guidance or mandates. Testing remains a crucial tool to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection so that treatment, isolation, and contact notification may begin as soon as possible.” In addition, “All individuals — those who are unvaccinated as well those who are fully vaccinated and those who are up to date on vaccination — should be tested if experiencing symptoms. Close contacts of infected individuals should be tested on or after day five (day five = five days post-exposure) or if symptoms develop. Home antigen tests (rapid tests) are readily available. Free antigen tests for personal use can be obtained from the federal government at http://covidtests.gov.” Therefore:

• If you are a residential student who is currently on campus and you are feeling unwell, please isolate in your room until you call the Gable Health Center for an appointment. If you are feeling unwell on the weekend, please contact Public Safety at 610-921-7670 for further guidance. Testing individuals who are feeling unwell is extremely important.

• If you are feeling unwell, or have been notified that you have been exposed to COVID-19 — and are away from campus, please refrain from coming to campus. Contact the Gable Health Center for guidance by calling 610-921-7532.

• If you get tested for COVID-19 off campus or at home, please report your results to the Gable Health Center by calling 610-921-7532.

Home tests are available through the Gable Health Center while supplies last. Questions about self-quarantine or individualized re-entry testing requirements should be directed to the Gable Health Center at 610-921-7532.

Mental Health

Although the acute crisis of the pandemic is behind us, the pandemic’s toll on mental health continues to reverberate and grow. It is not unusual to feel collateral damage from fatigue, mental exhaustion, burnout, stress, depression, and anxiety. If you have feelings of anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, and stress – help is available.

Students in need of assistance should contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532 or email Albright Chaplains, Mel Sensenig, M.Div., Ph.D. (msensenig@albright.edu) or Ibrahim Bangura, M.Div. (ibangura@albright.edu).

Faculty and staff may consult the Employee Assistance Program — Inroads Family Guidance Center at 610-374-4963, Opt. 7, or contact Human Resources for additional guidance.

Indoor Air Quality

Good indoor air quality continues to be a critical component of decreasing transmission of COVID-19 and has the added benefit of reducing the public health impact of other respiratory illnesses, including influenza. COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through airborne particles and droplets released when infected individuals exhale. Infectious particles and droplets accumulate in indoor spaces, especially during activities such as speaking loudly, singing or exercising.

Because each building on Albright’s campus contains different units that condition the air, solutions for maximizing safety are varied based on each building’s capabilities, air flow exchanges, and the ability to successfully condition all air at reasonable temperatures.

Where applicable, Albright’s facilities team has opened dampers to allow more fresh air intake into building systems to assist with airflow exchanges and increased fresh air. To assist with energy savings, Albright reduces air exchange rates and conditioning of air overnight. However, all HVAC units are continuously running at high levels to ensure the highest amount of airflow in buildings, even when not in use. This will help continue to circulate air throughout non-operating hours.

Albright has replaced all filters in HVAC units per each unit’s recommendations with a cost-efficient filter, and has switched to the highest allowed MERV-rated filter in each HVAC unit, where applicable. The rating on each filter varies with each individual unit.

In areas where fresh airflow is inadequate, Albright’s facilities team is installing portable air purifiers with HEPA filters to assist in cleaning the air and to reduce risk.

In certain instances, such as inside the Health Center and Public Safety vehicles, rooms or areas require cleaning via aerosol disinfectants. The facilities team oversees the use of all disinfection equipment.

Travel

Currently, travel is not restricted. However, the coronavirus and information pertaining to travel are constantly evolving. The college’s Pandemic Planning Task Force strongly encourages individuals who are traveling, either domestically and internationally, to review current CDC recommendations for travel and follow the most current guidance.

If you are returning to campus after having visited (for personal or college-related travel) an area in or outside of the United States in which a confirmed case of COVID-19 has occurred or where you have had potential exposure, please contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532 for further guidance.

If you have health-related questions or need additional information, please reach out to the Gable Health Center at 610-921-7532.

Additional Resources:
Updated Covid-19 Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education – ACHA. ACHA Guidelines, 8 July 2022.

Masking indoors is currently optional for all Albrightians and guests to the campus. With care for those who have continued health concerns, all Albrightians and visitors are asked to respect the following guidelines:• Faculty may require that students wear masks in their classrooms. Faculty should communicate their masking requirements directly to their students and should apply their requirements consistently.

• Employees and students may require masking from meeting organizers when attending in-person campus meetings.

• Event organizers may require masking at their scheduled events.

• Individual departments may require masking in their respective areas.

• Albright may require events that are open to the public to require masking.

In general, individuals who feel more comfortable wearing a mask should feel free to do so. A KN95 mask is recommended when available. A limited supply of KN95 masks is available through the office of Environmental Health and Safety by emailing kwierzbicki@albright.edu.

The Pandemic Planning Task Force continues to monitor COVID-19 conditions on campus, in Berks County and on the state level, and may put forth new masking recommendations if transmission levels change and COVID-19 cases rise.

Faculty, students and staff are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine/booster and report vaccination status to the Gable Health Center by uploading a copy of your vaccination card to the health portal. (Click here for a video tutorial).

Considering the high transmissibility of the COVID virus, including the omicron BA.5 sub-variant, Albright College continues to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, through various uses of testing, masking and other protocols per public health guidelines. But the best way to protect everyone is through vaccination. Therefore, because we want everyone to have a rich, engaging and safe experience on campus this year, Albright College strongly encourages vaccination and booster shots for all faculty, staff and students. Free vaccination and boosters are available near any location.

Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and vaccination decreases the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection. However, waning antibody levels have been observed over time, making boosters valuable in ensuring continued protection. Please follow the CDC’s guidance for vaccine and booster dosing.

According to the American College Health Association’s 2022 guidelines, “Persons who have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations with brands approved or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization are considered to be fully vaccinated, even if those brands are not authorized for use in the U.S. While mixing of brands is not recommended by CDC for the primary vaccine series, it is allowed, and persons who are due for a booster should receive a booster dose using an authorized or approved mRNA vaccine.”

Albright is fully prepared to test for Coronavirus on campus, and to quarantine or isolate affected students, when necessary. Unsure of when and what to report to the Gable Health Center? See a flowchart here.

Essential personnel on campus have been fit-tested for safety equipment and are prepared to safely test, quarantine, isolate, clean residence hall rooms, gather personal materials, deliver food and technology, as well as remove trash.

Because COVID-19 is spread through direct contact or respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, students who are tested and exhibit positive signs of the virus will be isolated, and not return to their residence hall.

Roommates of affected students will be immediately notified. Their rooms and common areas (including stairwells) in the residence hall will be sanitized.

Why can’t I isolate or quarantine in my own residence hall room/apartment?
True isolation and quarantine ensures that a person with a disease (isolation) or at risk to develop a disease due to a close-contact exposure (quarantine) does not spread the disease further by having contact with others. Isolating and quarantining is a coordinated effort that requires the health center, residential life, public safety, dining services and facilities teams to work together to meet all the needs of sick and potentially sick students. For safety of others on campus as well as to provide meals and safety of these students, specific areas on campus are utilized for isolation and quarantine.

Why did I have to isolate 10 days last year and now people only isolate for five days?
Albright continues to adjust its policies to align with national, state and local public health guidelines. The recent change to five days of isolation, FOLLOWED by an additional five days of strict mask use (grab-and-go meals, private rooming, no travel), presents our most recent update. While we continue to do everything we can to keep campus safe, we’ve heard how difficult 10 days of isolation can be for students, and aligned our policy to lessen the mental health burden of strict isolation, while continuing to protect others on campus.

How do I get my meals during isolation/quarantine?
Dining Services delivers meals to students in isolation and quarantine right to their newly assigned room for the first five days. On days 6-10 students, must utilize grab and go meals from dining services and avoid eating indoors, or outdoors within six feet of others.

I’m in isolation (or quarantine). What do I do next?
> Contact your professors to let them know that you are isolating (or quarantining).
> Make sure your residential life and dining services forms are completed and emailed to each respective department.
> Update the Gable Health Center daily Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with updates on your condition and for any help you may need.
> If you need assistance or are feeling worse during the evening hours or on the weekend, please reach out to Public Safety at 610-921-7670.

I am fully vaccinated. Do I need to quarantine?
Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to strictly quarantine away from others. They do need to consistently wear their masks, monitor symptoms, get tested around five days after their last close contact. This “modified” quarantine is another advantage of being vaccinated and protected against COVID-19, but addresses the concern of “breakthrough” disease in vaccinated individuals.

Good indoor air quality continues to be a critical component of decreasing transmission of COVID-19 and has the added benefit of reducing the public health impact of other respiratory illnesses, including influenza. COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through airborne particles and droplets released when infected individuals exhale. Infectious particles and droplets accumulate in indoor spaces, especially during activities such as speaking loudly, singing or exercising.

Because each building on Albright’s campus contains different units that condition the air, solutions for maximizing safety are varied based on each building’s capabilities, air flow exchanges, and the ability to successfully condition all air at reasonable temperatures.

Where applicable, Albright’s facilities team has opened dampers to allow more fresh air intake into building systems to assist with airflow exchanges and increased fresh air. To assist with energy savings, Albright reduces air exchange rates and conditioning of air overnight. However, all HVAC units are continuously running at high levels to ensure the highest amount of airflow in buildings, even when not in use. This will help continue to circulate air throughout non-operating hours.

Albright has replaced all filters in HVAC units per each unit’s recommendations with a cost-efficient filter, and has switched to the highest allowed MERV-rated filter in each HVAC unit, where applicable. The rating on each filter varies with each individual unit.

In areas where fresh airflow is inadequate, Albright’s facilities team is installing portable air purifiers with HEPA filters to assist in cleaning the air and to reduce risk.

In certain instances, such as inside the Health Center and Public Safety vehicles, rooms or areas require cleaning via aerosol disinfectants. The facilities team oversees the use of all disinfection equipment.

One of Albright’s core values is connection, in which we specifically state the value of an equitable and inclusive community, within the Albright community that is comprised of a remarkable diversity of people, backgrounds and thoughts. Within this concept, we endeavor to foster strong, personal relationships and engagement with each other, college programs, the greater Reading area, and the world around us. At Albright College, we value our face-to-face interactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly challenged our ability to live in, work at, and enjoy our in-person community.

This Albright College Health and Safety Plan has been prepared to communicate to all Albright constituencies the plans surrounding Albright’s return to face-to-face education. This plan endeavors to address the challenges the pandemic presents to our institutional priorities and commitment to a residential, face-to-face community. Within this plan, the following goals have been put at the forefront:

  1. To live our value of a connected, inclusive and face-to-face community as best we can during a pandemic.
  2. To live our values of resilience and integrity by recognizing and honoring the collective importance of care for ourselves and others in our community so that we may all thrive and be well during this pandemic.

We recognize that, at times, these goals challenge each other and a commitment to both represents a balance. Importantly, this plan includes all of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PA DOE) requirements for a higher education health and safety plan. In addition, this plan aligns with return-to-campus guidelines presented by both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the PA DOE and PA Dept. of Health (PA DOH). For athletics, guidance from the NCAA and from the MAC athletic conference are also followed.

Phase One
Phase Two
Phase Three
Phase Four

Students who have applied for study abroad should keep in contact with the study abroad program, and will be contacted as necessary by Kim Justeson, director of experiential learning, with specific information. Learn more about changing travel advisories here.

Although the acute crisis of the pandemic is behind us, the pandemic’s toll on mental health continues to reverberate and grow. It is not unusual to feel collateral damage from fatigue, mental exhaustion, burnout, stress, depression, and anxiety. If you have feelings of anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, and stress – help is available.

Students in need of assistance should contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532 or email Albright Chaplains, Mel Sensenig, M.Div., Ph.D. (msensenig@albright.edu) or Ibrahim Bangura, M.Div. (ibangura@albright.edu).

Faculty and staff may consult the Employee Assistance Program — Inroads Family Guidance Center at 610-374-4963, Opt. 7, or contact Human Resources for additional guidance.

According to the American College Health Association’s latest guidelines, “Approaches to testing for SARS-CoV-2 are dependent on many factors including, but not limited to, local community case numbers and hospitalizations, and local and state guidance or mandates. Testing remains a crucial tool to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection so that treatment, isolation, and contact notification may begin as soon as possible.” In addition, “All individuals — those who are unvaccinated as well those who are fully vaccinated and those who are up to date on vaccination — should be tested if experiencing symptoms. Close contacts of infected individuals should be tested on or after day five (day five = five days post-exposure) or if symptoms develop. Home antigen tests (rapid tests) are readily available. Free antigen tests for personal use can be obtained from the federal government at http://covidtests.gov.” Therefore:

  • If you are a residential student who is currently on campus and you are feeling unwell, please isolate in your room until you call the Gable Health Center for an appointment. If you are feeling unwell on the weekend, please contact Public Safety at 610-921-7670 for further guidance. Testing individuals who are feeling unwell is extremely important.
  • If you are feeling unwell, or have been notified that you have been exposed to COVID-19 — and are away from campus, please refrain from coming to campus. Contact the Gable Health Center for guidance by calling 610-921-7532.
  • If you get tested for COVID-19 off campus or at home, please report your results to the Gable Health Center by calling 610-921-7532.

Home tests are available through the Gable Health Center while supplies last. Questions about self-quarantine or individualized re-entry testing requirements should be directed to the Gable Health Center at 610-921-7532.

How do I get a home COVID-19 test?
Free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests are available via covidtests.gov. Please report symptoms of COVID-19 and exposures to COVID-19 anytime you are on campus to the Gable Health Center. Please report home test results as well and any COVID-19 test done off campus. All personal information is strictly confidential and allows the Health Center team to coordinate efforts to keep campus safe.I did a home test and it’s positive. What do I do now?
Call the Gable Health Center immediately. If the test result is obtained after 4:30 p.m., stay in your room and contact the Health Center first thing after 8:30 a.m. If the result is reported over the weekend, please contact public safety at 610-921-7670 for further instructions.Unsure of when and what to report to the Gable Health Center? See a flowchart here.

COVID-19 testing with rapid results are available when ordered by the Gable Health Center staff. Sick visits as well as COVID-19 testing at the Gable Health Center are by appointment only. Unsure of when and what to report to the Gable Health Center? See a flowchart here.

The CDC recommends watching for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. A person showing any of these signs should seek emergency medical care immediately:
• Trouble breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion
• Inability to wake or stay awake
• Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone. This is not a comprehensive list of all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider if you have any other symptoms that are severe, or concerning to you. If you are currently isolating on campus call Public Safety at 610-921-7670 to coordinate your emergency care.

While many pharmacy shelves are bare, the Gable Health Center remains well stocked with COVID-19 tests. In addition to antigen tests, we continue to utilize our IDNOW platform for nucleic acid amplification tests when indicated. Contact the Gable Health Center by calling 610-921-7532 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Visitors

Masking indoors is optional for all Albrightians and campus guests. However, faculty, staff and event organizers may require masking in classrooms, meetings and events on campus. See the “Masking” section for more information.

All visitors should stay away from campus if they feel sick, have a temperature above 100.4, or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.


About Coronavirus

Coronavirus — or more specifically, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — continues to evolve in our country and around the world. Albright College’s Pandemic Planning Task Force, formed more than a decade ago to combat avian and swine flu, has been meeting regularly to develop short- and long-term contingency plans based on regularly-updated recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and PA Department of Health. Because the health and safety of all members of our campus community is our top priority, we will continue to monitor and inform the campus about changes stemming from the Coronavirus. Please return to this website regularly for the most current and reliable information from the college.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus through an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The disease spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Droplets land on objects and surfaces other people come in contact with these objects or surfaces and can catch the virus from touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People are also able to catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is a global outbreak of a serious new illness that requires sustained transmission throughout the world.

Anyone can catch COVID-19, but people with weak or compromised immune systems, particularly older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Vaccines are now available for free to all Americans. Find the closest vaccine location to anywhere in the country here!


COVID Vaccine General Information From PA DOH : COVID Vaccine Information

Locations

The CDC says that the symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus can include: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and or diarrhea. A temperature above 100.4 is considered to be a fever.

  • Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of sleep, maintaining good nutrition, finding stress-relief and exercising.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

If you are a member of Albright’s campus community and answer “yes” to any of the following conditions, please contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532.

  • Have had a known direct exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Have been instructed to isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have been notified by someone that you might have been exposed to COVID-19 directly
  • Have a fever, cough or shortness of breath
  • Have visited a travel warning Level 3 country

What if …

What if I don’t feel well.

Students who feel sick should stay in their rooms and contact the Health Center (610-921-7532) during business hours. During non-business hours, students should contact Public Safety (610-921-7670).

Faculty and staff who feel sick should inform a supervisor and stay home.

A temperature above 100.4 is considered to be a fever. COVID-19 symptoms can include: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and or diarrhea.


What if Pennsylvania returns to stay-at-home protocol orders?

If Berks County, Pennsylvania returns to phase red “stay-at-home” orders, Albright will revert to essential operations. At that time, students will be required to return home, or petition for shelter on campus. Classes will transition to fully online, Dining Services will offer grab-and-go meal options for students sheltering on campus, and only essential personnel necessary for the minimum maintenance of Albright’s physical plant will be allowed on campus.


What if I learn that I may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19?

If you are a member of the Albright campus community and can answer “yes” to any of the following conditions, contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532:

  • Have had a known direct exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Have been instructed to isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have been notified by someone that you might have been exposed to COVID-19 directly
  • Have a fever, cough or shortness of breath

Health Resources

Albright College Gable Health Center
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
CDC: Enhanced Screening Procedures
CDC: COVID-19 Symptoms
World Health Organization (WHO) 
US State Department
PA State Department
Albright Mental Health Resources