Article updated on 8/5/2021 at 10:45pm CT. We included new information from an email sent to students earlier this morning.
Trinity University detailed its COVID-19 safety measures for the upcoming semester in an email sent to all students on July 30. While over 80% of students and faculty will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the semester and had few COVID-19 cases during the spring semester in 2021, Trinity University decided to impose further restrictions on students, faculty, and staff. These new restrictions are due to the impact of the Delta variant and for Trinity “to promote a healthy and safe semester as we return to in-person learning and living.”
New restrictions include:
- the wearing of “well-fitting masks… by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings at all times” and the wearing of masks outside if one finds himself in a setting in which he is in a crowded space or cannot social distance
- The testing of all students and staff regardless of vaccination status upon returning to campus
- Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students and staff
- A green badge from the ProtecTU Daily Health Check for all students, faculty, and staff for entry into public spaces or classrooms
- Completion of the vaccination status form to be let onto campus and register for classes
Trinity stated in the email that it would re-evaluate these protocols come mid-September, but the university left the possibility of stricter protocols open. This may only be the beginning of stricter COVID-19 regulations due to the Delta variant.
Tess Coody-Anders, VP For Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, informed The Tower that the university currently stands at an 86% vaccination rate that continues to climb. However, these vaccinations do not entirely protect them from getting infected and carrying the “same viral load as unvaccinated persons.”
When asked about whose guidance they are following for these protocols and if they are imposing a mask mandate, Coody-Anders said that Trinity “will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and return to universal mask wearing for all” and that after a few weeks of testing unvaccinated individuals they will “re-evaluate the need for the vaccinated to wear masks.” Trinity University will also be checking statements and figures provided by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to understand better how COVID-19 is affecting San Antonio.
Coody-Anders also informed The Tower that Trinity University is “fully committed to providing students in-person learning” but did not say whether or not the university is planning on potentially going partially or fully online again this semester.
However, Coody-Anders was unable to answer many, perhaps just as important, questions at this time. Of the questions asked, she did not provide answers to the following questions:
- If the university has expanded mental health services to accommodate students struggling due to the impact of COVID-19
- If the university received feedback from students before finalizing the COVID-19 safety procedures
- Whether students can have off-campus guests in their dorm rooms
- Whether students can have guests who live in other residence halls in their dorm rooms (this was forbidden in Fall 2020 and for the beginning of Spring 2021)
- Under what circumstances the university will remove the mask mandate
- Whether students are able to report one another for not following these rules, as they did during the last school year
- Why Trinity requires students to report their vaccine status if the vaccine is not required
- What will happen to professors who do not enforce or check whether or not their students completed the Daily Health Check and got a green badge
- What will happen to students if they are unable to display a green badge due to not having an electronic device on their person
- Whether Trinity University believes these new rules are an infringement on the liberties of students, staff, and faculty?
Trinity University and Coody-Anders did try to make it clear that the administration at Trinity does care about its students and wants them to have as close to a normal semester as possible. However, the university has created many unanswered questions, and students are looking for answers that the university can not give at this time.
Update 8/5/2021: Trinity University sent a follow-up email to students on Aug. 5 to clarify some of the new COVID-19 procedures. The email stated that on-campus meetings will be limited to 50 persons for indoor settings and 250 for outdoor events. Off-campus guests and visitors will not be allowed on campus. Furthermore, residence hall dorm rooms will be restricted to 4 people maximum, and masks must be worn while guests are over. They reiterated that these rules will be reconsidered in mid-September.