Welcome to a new academic year!
Dear Faculty and Staff colleagues,
I welcome each of you to the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year! I am so grateful that we are beginning to return to the college experience and the vibrant, energetic campus that we love.
The last 17 months have been challenging as we have made our way through the ebbs and flows of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to acknowledge and remember that many in our community are experiencing a “normal” semester start for the very first time, and others are experiencing the first return to the on-campus work experience in 17 months. While returning to campus is exciting, it also provokes fear and anxiety, as is being seen and felt in so many areas across the globe, not just in colleges. Please remember to care for your physical health this semester by following the guidance in our Community Care Compact, and your mental and emotional health as well. Support is always available through our Employee Assistance Program, and keep an eye out for programming from our President’s Advisory Council on Wellness that will address some of the fears, anxieties and challenges that we may continue to experience.
Faculty and staff members, please be sensitive to students who may be sophomores or juniors, but haven’t really experienced a “real” campus experience — this can be anxiety producing, and we are already seeing that anxiety. Extra support for such students is available — you may be the first contact. Please help our students seek support from the Student Success Office, the Gable Health and Counseling Center and Lifting Up Lions.
While I know being back on campus will take some adjusting, the good news is that we now know much more than we did at this time last year, and at Albright College, we have been successful at keeping our community healthy. Even better, vaccines are now available and they have proven safe and highly effective.
At Albright College we value personal choice and thus have chosen not to mandate the vaccine. At the same time, your choice impacts health and safety of fellow community members! All community members who are able to be vaccinated are strongly encouraged to do so. This is how you keep your friends, your colleagues, and your students, safe, especially those who may have hidden health issues that make them more at risk for serious disease.
Those who choose not to be vaccinated will be required to participate in re-entry testing and surveillance testing for COVID-19 multiple times during the semester. It takes all of us roaring together to limit the spread of COVID-19!
Last year, we were able to keep the community infectivity limited with ongoing testing and robust contact tracing. This summer we hosted 200 elementary through high school students on campus for the Science Research Institute’s summer program and we did so safely. By following the guidance of the CDC, PA Dept. of Health, PA Dept. of Education, and our own Pandemic Planning Task Force, we have kept our community healthy, and we will continue to do so.
Increasing the vaccination rate in our community, and using masks, have been shown to be the two most effective ways to ensure community safety. So, get your vaccination — we have another clinic coming to campus on Sept 2. And, for now, please don’t forget to #maskyourmane, whether you are vaccinated or not. We must all do our part to keep our fellow Albrightians safe.
Albright College is truly special – it’s a place where we come together to learn, to work, to teach, to laugh, to play, to succeed, and sometimes, to overcome obstacles and challenges. We are, after all, a mighty pride of Lions.
Don’t forget Friday Spirit Day – sponsored by Albright’s Wellness Council – every Friday, wear your Albright gear and Albright red to show your Lion Spirit! My wish for each of you is a productive and successful fall semester!
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry