A Guide to our Upcoming Academic Year

Posted: July 15, 2021

As we roll through summer, the university is busy adjusting our COVID-19 mitigation protocols and completing plans to return to an in-person academic year. We, like many of you, are looking forward to a more normal Gannon experience and are pleased to be coming back to be in community together on our Erie and Ruskin campuses. We hope these updates provide you guidance on what to expect upon your return this fall so that we may all enjoy our time together while remaining as healthy and safe as possible as the pandemic continues.

Some highlights of mitigation protocols and what to expect:

An important part of offering an in-person semester is the successful return of our employees to our campuses. Beginning Monday, Aug. 2, we are removing all guidance to de-densify our spaces and our employees will be able to return to our campuses. This will allow us to prepare to fully support the in-person student experience we are offering this fall. 

This move follows announcements in June to lift our mask mandate across both our Erie and Ruskin campuses, drop our physical distancing guidance, and lift the last of our limits on gathering sizes.

We continue to encourage vaccinations. Vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself and our campus communities. Unvaccinated students and employees who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine are strongly encouraged to do so. Those who do not will be part of a surveillance testing program in which they will be tested every two weeks.

We also continue to ask that if you are sick, please do not come to campus. Reach out to the health center via the LiveSafe app and wait until symptoms have abated before returning to our Gannon community.

What follows is an outline of how the university will operate through the fall semester.

Face masks are no longer required at either campus, but those who are unvaccinated are encouraged to wear them while on campus. (This guidance has been revised. As of August 10, masks are required inside all facilities. Click here to read more.)

Please be respectful to those who wear masks as they may be wearing them for a variety of their own personal reasons.

In addition:

The university has been busy this summer restoring classrooms, the dining hall and other spaces to their pre-pandemic alignment and full capacity. We encourage those who are unvaccinated to continue to practice social distancing measures where possible as added safety.

The university has lifted all its pandemic-inspired gathering limits and other COVID protocols like temperature screenings and mask wearing. With gatherings, we encourage those who are unvaccinated to continue practicing social distancing and wearing a mask to limit possible exposure to yourself and others.

Our surveillance testing program will continue into the fall semester. It will be expanding to account for employees and students who do not submit proof of vaccination through our reporting form below and will therefore be required to complete regular testing through the semester. This testing will occur for each individual at least once every two weeks. Failure to comply with surveillance testing requirements will result in disciplinary action. 

We will suspend the surveillance testing of unvaccinated students and employees at each campus once 70 percent of each population is fully vaccinated. Report your “fully vaccinated” status at https://update.gannon.edu/vaccinecard (This guidance has been revised as of Aug. 9. At the time we advised 70%, the CDC and DOH thought that benchmark would reflect herd immunity. That guidance has changed and so has our number, which is now 80% to reflect the enduring challenge of containing COVID-19.)

Contact tracing was a key piece of Gannon’s success in the past year. We will continue to trace positive cases discovered through our own testing or that are reported to the health center.

A difference for this summer and fall will be tracing cases that involve both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. For clarity, a “close contact” is someone who has been within six feet of a COVID-positive individual for 15 minutes or longer, with or without a mask.

Unvaccinated individuals who are determined to be “close contacts” will have to quarantine for 10 to 14 days, depending on symptoms. Per CDC, vaccinated individuals with no symptoms of COVID do not have to quarantine. Vaccinated individuals with symptoms will still need to quarantine. 

For more information on our exposure, testing and isolation protocols, see this flow chart.

Recent guidance from the CDC indicates that surface contact is not a significant source of transmissibility of COVID-19. In light of this and in the exceedingly low counts of cases at either campus, we have suspended the increased disinfecting of spaces across campus for COVID-19.

We will also discontinue the practice of “wipe in, spray out.”

We will continue supplying sanitizer across campus as part of our effort to keep the campus community safe so that students can continue to make progress toward their academic goals. We will continue to encourage proper and frequent handwashing to prevent the spread of any illness.

Those who have been to our campuses will notice that nearly all signage related to COVID-19 protocols has been removed. We have also reverted traffic patterns across our campuses to what they were before the pandemic.

Unlike a year ago, visitors/family will be allowed in residence halls for move-in. We will use a scheduling process similar to last semester for students to have a designated move-in time. Details on how and when to register on the designated move-in dates communicated previously here will be forthcoming. Please note that some of these steps and details will vary for students who are unvaccinated, student-athletes as well as global students. 

keep using LIVESAFE
We have eliminated the travel screening question on LiveSafe. This is a reflection of changes in guidance from CDC and from the states of Pennsylvania and Florida to reflect a pivot toward two sets of rules – one for vaccinated individuals and one for unvaccinated. You can see our updated travel policy here

We have also revised its use on our Erie campus. A green check will no longer be required to enter classes in Erie. It will continue to be required for entry into the Ruskin campus buildings as part of the campus’ mitigation efforts in keeping illness outside classes that are largely close contact and hands-on courses.

We will continue to recommend the daily use of the health screening to monitor your physical and mental health, and as a resource to connect you or your peers with our Health and Counseling Center for any concerns. This tool has many valuable functions that we will work to use more fully as the year progresses. LiveSafe will still be used as the main source to notify the Health Center of any illness. The process after reporting illness through LiveSafe can be reviewed here.

We will reduce the number of temperature check stations and make them passive check-ins rather than required stops. 

We have removed the mandatory temp check station in Waldron Campus Center. The scanners are still present in the building and we encourage you to use them at your discretion. 

All students and employees will be asked to complete an Acknowledgment of Mutual Respect and Responsibility Regarding Covid-19 form as we did this past spring semester. New this fall will be a second step to this process that completes your consent to COVID-19 testing for the academic year should you be exposed or experience symptoms and require a test. Employees can expect to complete this after their return beginning in August. Students can expect to complete this after the start of classes. More information on this and copies of the Acknowledgment will be shared in the upcoming weeks.

For employees who are still working remotely full-or-part-time, we will return to working on campus beginning Aug. 2, but we will explore remote work where appropriate. We recognize some individuals may have circumstances in which they may request to return in the weeks following Aug. 2.

We would like to remind our employees of Gannon’s Flexible Work Arrangement policy. Those who wish to request a flexible work schedule or remote work should 1) discuss this with their supervisor, 2) review the FWA policy and 3) complete an FWA request. These are both located on the HR website.  
Questions from employees who are interested in FWA can be answered by Caprice Hudson, Senior HR Generalist. 

Supervisors and employees can determine what works best for them in their offices – that is, they can continue practices that might have worked: plexiglass and Zoom meetings, for instance – and that have use going forward.

In-person staff meetings can be resumed, but alternative participation methods should be considered and offered to accommodate employees who may not be comfortable or unvaccinated.

Supervisor meetings will be announced shortly to support supervisors as they make decisions on FWA requests and other return-to-work operations questions and guidance for their department. Supervisors will receive communication from HR with more information and meeting details.

Whether student, staff or faculty: If you are sick or having symptoms of COVID-19 or any illness, please stay home. This was a good practice in the past academic year, and it will continue to serve us well. 

We will continue to send messages to your email and will post them at update.gannon.edu.
If you have a question or a comment, you can submit it at https://www.gannon.edu/Questions-or-Comments/.