After navigating the 2020-2021 school year with capacity limits, social distancing, quarantine protocol and masks, Taylor University intends to shift toward normal operations in the fall.
“Our goal is to have a safe environment for students to develop and mature as God calls them to,” Ron Sutherland, special assistant to the president and member of the Pandemic Emergency Response Team (PeRT) said.
Ahead of the fall semester, PeRT issued an update on Aug. 20. Three areas of interest were discussed: masks, vaccinations and quarantine guidelines.
The brief acknowledged the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Grant County, due in large part to the Delta variant. The team plans to monitor any developments.
There will be no universal mask mandate on campus. But, any individual that desires to wear a mask is encouraged to do so.
“Being sensitive and deferential to those who desire to wear masks is an expectation of our Taylor community,” PeRT said in their Aug. 20 email to campus.
However, the university grants faculty members the jurisdiction to require masks in their class.
PeRT also encouraged students to seriously consider receiving the vaccination against COVID-19, citing its effectiveness in slowing the spread of the pandemic and preventing fatal symptoms.
“According to the CDC, the number one way to prevent a public health concern is to be vaccinated,” Sutherland said.
To ensure the vaccine is accessible, Taylor will implement a vaccination clinic on campus. The team also called on students to report their vaccination status to the university through their myTaylor dashboard.
Vaccinations will be required for international travel and some off-campus activities, but are not required to live on campus.
Last school year, quarantine was a reality for many students and faculty members who tested positive for COVID-19 or were in close contact with a positive result.
This fall, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to quarantine due to close contact with any person that tests positive for COVID-19. However, students who are vaccinated will be required to wear a mask until receiving a negative test result.
“Being vaccinated is a significant advantage for students … I would strongly encourage students to think about it seriously,” Sutherland said.
Amid possible hesitancy, faculty members urge students to consider getting vaccinated as well.
“Getting vaccinated is a biblical thing to do,” Jan Reber, professor of biology, said. “As a community of believers, we should carry the attitude of looking out for others, and taking responsibility.”
Concerning receiving the vaccine, Reber cites the simple acronym — “J.O.Y.” The expression stands for “Jesus, Others, Yourself”, and calls on believers to prioritize their decisions in this order.
As the Taylor community seeks to carry out normal operations, students look forward to their semester on campus but still carry apprehension.
Sophomore Juliette Aguirre came to Taylor in the fall of 2020. She has not experienced time as a college student without adjustments for COVID-19.
“I’m excited to experience Taylor in a ‘normal’ way and be able to attend Silent Night,” Aguirre said. “However, I’m curious to see how they will approach COVID this year.”
As the Taylor community wrestles with community life in a world with COVID-19, one thing is certain –– God is faithful.
“My prayer is that our faith will grow and that our belief in a really great and holy God would not be limited by the constraints of the world,” Sutherland said.