With the fifth week of classes starting at William Jewell College, most students, faculty and staff have become acquainted with emails from Daniel Holt, Jewell’s associate vice president for Institutional Strategy, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the College’s response. Holt and the College’s Operational Planning Team regularly announce updates to Operation Resurgent Campus (ORC), a college-wide plan that focuses on vaccination and testing on campus. ORC overall guides the Jewell community’s response to COVID-19 cases on campus, Liberty and Clay County, in which “safety levels” determine what precautions should be required versus recommended.
On Sept. 1, Jewell abolished its campus-wide mask mandate in ordinance with the campus safety level moving to A2. Now, masks are only required at the discretion of each professor during class time and for unvaccinated individuals indoors. This is a change from Jewell’s original policy that required all individuals on campus to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. This decision was made because over 85% of the Hill is reported to be fully vaccinated, leaving Jewell in the safe range of herd immunity. Currently, 11% report having a religious or medical exemption.
In accordance with the Biden Administration’s new vaccination mandates, Jewell will require all employees of the college to either receive vaccinations or be tested weekly.
In addition to the mask mandate ending, other major changes have occurred as well, including social distancing being reduced to personal preference, fiberglass shields around campus being removed, on-campus events taking place and an overall morale boost on the Hill.
Unlike last year, the start of the school year saw an in-person orientation week with multiple activities. Many individual organizations on campus have also already held events this year, including Lambda Chi Alphas’ Lambda Chisland party — the very first fraternity event on campus in over a year and a half. Other events from the past have also been brought back including CU-At the movies, FIJI Fridays, and watch parties for the Kansas City Chiefs.
A big concern at the start of the school year was on-campus COVID-19 cases and how to mitigate infections while bringing students back to Jewell. There have been few cases, however, and as of Sept. 20, there was only one person actively in quarantine. So far this semester, Jewell has only reported nine positive cases campus-wide.