Johns Hopkins University shared draft plans today for an expanded on-campus experience for the spring semester, with policies and procedures—including mandatory COVID testing for many affiliates who will be on or around campus—designed to ensure a safe and healthy return to in-person classes and other activities.
In early November, the university announced plans to resume in-person on-campus activities for the spring semester, "with a mix of cautious optimism, careful preparation, and a strong desire to convene on our campuses." The first day of classes will be Jan. 25.
However, university leadership is aware of and closely monitoring the rising number of COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, and a final determination about an expanded spring return to campus will be made and communicated during the first week of January.
No single public health metric will be determinative in the university's decision-making—rather, JHU's public health and infectious disease experts will advise the university based on a combination of factors and trends. The university routinely reviews a comprehensive set of data, at the city, state, national, and global levels. It looks at a number of metrics, including daily new cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mortality, as well as a set of Hopkins-specific capacity metrics that include testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine. In addition to this ongoing review of metrics, JHU's public health experts are also conducting modeling in an attempt to forecast the trajectory of the disease in populations of relevance to the Hopkins community and its neighbors.
"Moving to an expanded operating posture at the appropriate time is a challenge that will require the help of every member of our community, but our experience so far gives us confidence that it is one we can meet," Stephen Gange, professor and executive vice provost for academic affairs, and Jane Schlegel, vice president and chief administrative officer, wrote in a message to the Hopkins community today. "Our success in resuming research and clinical operations shows that with careful preparation and diligent adherence to our guidelines, we can safely conduct in-person activities in furtherance of our mission even amid the pandemic."
The Return to Campus Guidance shared today details changes in policies and protocols as the university shifts from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of its reopening plan. The Phase 2 plan maintains many elements of the Phase 1 plan, including continued reliance on strict physical distancing and masking requirements.
It introduces mandatory testing for many affiliates:
- Twice weekly for all undergraduates in Baltimore, whether they live on or off campus
- Once a week for all faculty, staff, graduate students, trainees, and postdocs who participate in or directly support in-person, on-campus classes, or who are regularly exposed to undergraduates.
Testing frequency may be increased, based on public health conditions.
The plan also allows for expanded use of campus facilities, including undergraduate residence halls, which will be open with limited capacity. All students will have their own bedrooms, and sharing of bathroom facilities will be limited. Unless public health conditions change, only residents of the building will be allowed to enter, and students will not be permitted to enter another student's bedroom.
Multiple dining facilities will be open to students, faculty, and staff on the Homewood campus, and a temporary structure will be built on the Homewood Freshman Quad to provide space for study and/or student activities.
"We will put your health and that of our Baltimore neighbors first, and if we must change our plans to maintain our community's safety, we will not hesitate to do so," Gange and Schlegel wrote. "But as we continue to monitor the public health trends, we share these guidelines, in their draft form, with the hope that you will review them and offer your feedback before they are finalized in January."