With vaccine eligibility extended to some 880,000 Missourians under activation of Phase 2 of Missouri’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, William Jewell College partnered with Cobblestone Family Health to host a vaccination clinic for members of the local community and newly eligible Jewell employees March 29.
In total, volunteers from Jewell, Cobblestone Family Health, Liberty Hospital and the Liberty Fire Department administered 466 doses of the Moderna vaccine during the 10-hour event in the Mabee Center.
Jewell nursing alum and doctorate nurse practitioner at Cobblestone Family Health Dr. Sadia Ali supplied the doses for the clinic. According to Leesa McBroom, chair and professor of nursing at Jewell, Ali was notified last-minute that she would receive several hundred doses on March 23 and had only 10 days to administer them, which prompted her to contact Jewell.
A follow-up clinic will be held April 27 to administer secondary vaccine doses for those who attended the March 29 event, as well as initial doses for populations now eligible under Phase 3 of Missouri’s vaccination plan as of April 9.
Further vaccination events for students, staff and faculty have yet to be planned. However, due to limited vaccine availability in the area, future events may be held with similar spontaneity as the March 29 clinic, according to Daniel Holt, associate vice president for institutional strategy.
“Conversations with multiple organizations to hold a clinic for our students is ongoing, and while things are progressing, nothing definitive can be shared as of yet,” Holt said. “The [March 29] clinic occurred very rapidly because Cobblestone was unsure they would have the vaccine until it arrived, then had limited time to use it. Until the vaccine is more readily available for planning purposes, the short notice, while not desired, is necessary. We hope that we can have multiple opportunities for students in the future with ample notice to accommodate class and activity schedules.”
Jewell will finish the spring semester under Operation Safe Campus as students and employees of the college continue to receive vaccinations through local providers and mass vaccination events.
The Operational Planning Team hopes to have the guidelines for fall 2021 planned by early summer, adjusting them as needed.
“Unlike last summer, we hope to conclude the majority of our work by June 1,” Holt said. “However, we anticipate things being very fluid for the next several months. President Biden has stated he hopes things are becoming normal by July 4, and we want to be mindful that our planning in April is adaptable for what the CDC guidance might be in July. While we want to have our Jewell expectations for the fall known by June 1, we will likely use the summer months to adjust to any new developments as appropriate.”
With a significant increase in vaccination rates expected by fall, Jewell will enter the second phase of its COVID-19 response, Operation Resurgent Campus (ORC). Similar to OSC, ORC uses a risk-level assessment system to guide campus-wide policies, although more emphasis is put upon vaccination rates within both the Jewell and local community.
After at least 75% of employees have been fully vaccinated and campus transmission rates are low, Jewell will graduate Level B of OSC to Level A2 of ORC. After at least 40% of students and at least 50% of the entire campus community have been fully vaccinated, alongside low campus and community transmission rates, Jewell will proceed to Level A1.
When the local community reaches vaccine saturation, again with low campus and community transmission rates, Jewell will move to Level A, the last tier of the system. At Level A, Jewell intends to resume education as it was before the pandemic while introducing sustainable solutions to mitigate respiratory viruses and support the long-term health of students and employees.
Holt stated in a March 29 ORC email that the Operational Planning Team anticipates the college will move to Level A2 between May 17 and June 1 as vaccine availability increases. Despite the expectation that the pandemic will be less severe by the fall, some preventative guidelines may still be necessary during the 2021-22 academic year. Notably, recommendations for face coverings and mandatory testing before re-entry each semester.
“The biggest thing the Jewell community should know about Operation Resurgent is that vaccination cannot be our only method of mitigation,” Holt said. “Some things we have done this year will likely stick around a while longer… This means more testing in August and January even though we expect the majority of our community to be vaccinated. We also need to be comfortable seeing people continuing to wear facial coverings, vaccinated or not.”
Levels A2 and A1 follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding optional face coverings among small groups of fully-vaccinated individuals. Additionally, Holt cites a CDC statement, published in March, that recommends institutions continue to test for COVID-19 upon re-entry each semester regardless of individual and community circumstances.
While the Operational Planning Team is expecting to employ a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2021-22 academic year, an official decision may not be reached for another few weeks.
“The vaccine is essential for us to maintain a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Holt said. “A formal announcement has not been made because the vaccine is currently in emergency use authorization and, to this point, not everyone has had access to the vaccine. The latter will be changing very soon which will likely lead to an announcement sooner rather than later.”
Several institutions of higher education have already published an intent to require COVID-19 vaccination including Brown University, Cornell University, Duke University and the University of Notre Dame, with more colleges and universities following suit each day.
Students, staff and faculty can expect on-going adjustments to Jewell’s 2021-22 COVID-19 guidelines as local and national recommendations are updated.
*This article was updated on 28 May 2021 to include a link to Operation Resurgent Campus’s webpage at https://www.jewell.edu/operation-resurgent-campus.