Drexel Campus Public Health Update
A public health update was sent to the Drexel community announcing that in order to further reduce the risk of infection among vaccinated persons, Drexel now requires masks for all students and employees (vaccinated or not) in all indoor public, shared, instructional and research settings on campus.
- Vaccination greatly reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection and is significantly effective at preventing symptomatic and severe disease, including with the Delta variant. If you have not yet scheduled a vaccination appointment, do so now.
- To further reduce the risk of infection among vaccinated persons, Drexel now requires masks for all students and employees (vaccinated or not) in all indoor public, shared, instructional, and research settings on campus.
- The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has announced new masking and vaccination requirements.
Dear Students and Colleagues:
Philadelphia officials recently announced a new citywide mask requirement. All employees and customers of businesses that don’t require proof of vaccination must wear a mask, as must all attendees at unseated, large outdoor gatherings. This demonstrates the increased impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which has begun to cause an increase in cases and rise in hospitalizations throughout the Philadelphia region, particularly among unvaccinated persons.
The city is proactively working to reduce the risk of infection with the Delta variant and avoid the magnitude of disease surges currently occurring in other areas in the nation. In addition, last Friday, the city passed a regulation mandating vaccination for all employees and students at Philadelphia colleges and universities, as well as employees of all health care institutions. While medical and religious exemptions can still be granted, all employees are now required to either provide proof of vaccination or have an approved medical or religious exemption.
Drexel has had a vaccine mandate in place for students and employees for several months. At this time, approximately 80 percent of our campus community has uploaded proof of vaccination through the Drexel Health Checker and that number is rising daily as our fall quarter approaches. Drexel is closely following information concerning booster vaccinations. When we are provided clear public health guidance concerning the use of booster vaccinations, we will have booster vaccine available for those who qualify and seek it. Booster vaccinations are not currently mandated.
At Drexel, we are beginning to experience a slight increase in COVID-19 infections among persons who are fully vaccinated. While such infections are often referred to as vaccine breakthrough cases, we want to stress that vaccines work. Vaccination reduces the overall risk of infection and should infection still occur, markedly reduces severe symptoms of COVID-19, hospitalization and death. To date, cases have been relatively mild. Thus far, sources of infection appear to be social events outside the campus setting, particularly where vaccine status of all attendees is unknown, and masks are not consistently worn.
At this time, and consistent with CDC and local health department guidance for Institutions of higher education, Drexel now requires all students and employees —vaccinated or not — to wear a face mask indoors in all public and shared spaces. Current exceptions to the masking requirement include certain pedagogical issues for faculty, single occupancy offices and with roommates in Drexel housing. These exceptions do not apply to unvaccinated individuals, who should remain masked in common spaces in housing and participate in Drexel’s testing program. More information concerning the testing program frequency for exempted, unvaccinated persons will be made available later this month.
We know that it may be upsetting and disappointing to read news focused on areas of the country experiencing a steep rise in COVID-19 cases and serious hospitalizations associated with low vaccination rates, lack of masking and the highly infectious Delta variant. But in our campus community, we are focused on reducing our risk of infection and moving ahead together in the safest manner possible. We continue to carefully review all case data and will soon provide weekly campus public health updates, including guidance for event planning, through Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website.
You must be vaccinated if you plan to be on campus this fall, or have an approved exemption. Remember to provide Drexel with proof of your vaccination using the Drexel Health Checker. If you’re not vaccinated yet, now is the time: Schedule an appointment now.
As always, you can stay up to date by visiting our Response to Coronavirus site, https://drexel.edu/coronavirus/.
Marla J. Gold, MD
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health and Chief Wellness Officer
Janet Cruz, MD
Director, Student Health