As the semester began in late August, the university asked students and employees to do one of three things—verify they are taking their classes fully online, show they are vaccinated, or show a negative PCR test and participate in surveillance testing.
“I am very pleased with where we are,” Frye said. “Everything could turn on a dime. An outbreak of the delta variant can happen so quickly, but so far, we have not had that. I feel we’ve done a tremendous job at maintaining and keeping everything in check.”
Jack Shaw, associate vice president for campus services, calls the 75 percent vaccination rate for resident students a significant accomplishment. Students moving into residence halls were screened and directed to register their vaccination status during the check-in process.
Shepherd has been able to have more in-person classes this semester, with 71 percent offering a face-to-face component. Residence hall capacity is back to normal and there are more in-person activities, including sporting events.
“I think we’ve done exceptionally well,” said Holly Morgan Frye, vice president for student affairs and chair of the campus health task force.
Shepherd’s vaccination rate is higher than the rates in the surrounding communities. Centers for Disease Control statistics show that as of September 29th, the vaccination rate for Jefferson County is 31.2 percent, for Berkeley County 30.1 percent, and for Washington County, Maryland, 50.2. As of September 24th, 87 percent of Shepherd’s employees have received COVID-19 vaccines and 67 percent of the students are vaccinated. For students residing on campus, 75 percent are vaccinated.
The most current information, along with a dashboard showing vaccination, infection, and exposure rates, is available on Shepherd’s Fall 2021 COVID-19 webpage.