- Will students be required to be vaccinated for the Fall 2021 semester?
Alvernia expects to be a vaccinated campus by the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
Students enrolled at all campuses for the Fall 2021 Semester must provide documentation (medical records or vaccine certification card) of vaccination by August 1, 2021, via an upload to the Student Health Portal. We will continue to accept documents via the portal, but please submit ASAP. If you have only received one vaccine, please upload that proof now and upload the second dose when you receive it.
This requirement will strengthen the university's ability to protect the health and safety of our campus and neighboring communities. Universal COVID-19 vaccination for all our students will contribute to greater immunity, reduce the risk of clusters of COVID-19 on campus, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious disease from the virus.
All vaccines authorized by the FDA or WHO will be considered suitable to fulfill the university's requirement.
Students, faculty and staff who haven't received their vaccines are encouraged to do so via their local providers, which can be found here.
- How do I sign up for a vaccine?
As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are now available to anyone over 12, and many pharmacies and providers offer walk-in appointments for COVID-19 vaccines. Alvernia strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to make plans to receive the vaccination as soon as possible. Have questions about the Vaccine? Check out the latest FAQs from the CDC. You are encouraged to view the Vaccine Finder to find a local provider.
If you prefer to get your COVID vaccine on campus we are working with Penn State Health to provide a vaccine clinic on campus during the first week of classes. Please watch for an email from Health and Wellness with the announced time.
- Can I request an exemption from the vaccine requirement?
As with all required vaccinations, Alvernia allows requests for medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions. Students requesting an exemption should send a secure message ("health requirement question") through the Student Health Portal to request the exemption form. This form must be completed in the Student Health Portal. If the reason is medical, a medical form will be emailed to the student and must be completed by a health care provider. This form must then be uploaded to the Student Health Portal.
- What will the semester look like for vaccinated students?
Vaccinated individuals will have as close to a normal college experience as is possible.
Masking is not required when outdoors, however it is recommended that vaccinated students wear a mask indoors at this time. For more information, please see the masking FAQ below.
Vaccinated student-athletes will not be subject to arrival testing or weekly testing unless symptomatic or on a team with sustained increased transmission.
- What will the semester look like for unvaccinated students?
Students requesting an exemption from the COVID vaccine will have an experience similar to last year regarding restrictions, quarantine and testing.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a face mask at all times while on campus outside of individual residence hall rooms. Consistent with state guidance, enforcement of vaccine compliance is a personal responsibility.
- A pre-arrival negative test for unvaccinated residential students and student-athletes (within three days before arrival on campus for antigen test or 5 days before arrival on campus for PCR) must be uploaded to the Student Health Portal in order to receive keys.
- Student-athletes will need one PCR test or two rapid antigen tests at least two days apart upon arrival in order to participate in practices. One pre-arrival test, taken not more than 5 days before arrival, may be uploaded to the Student Health Portal. A second antigen test will be administered by Health & Wellness upon arrival. Student-athletes who do not come to check-in with a negative test will be tested upon arrival and again 2 days later before training and/or competition can begin.
- During their season (traditional & non-traditional), student-athletes will be subject to weekly PCR and/or antigen testing to be eligible for training & competition. Athletes who miss weekly testing will not be able to participate until the result of the next week's test comes back negative.
- Unvaccinated students are encouraged to self-quarantine at home for two weeks prior to arrival.
- If exposed to a person with COVID, the unvaccinated student will be required to quarantine for 10 days.
- Serial testing of unvaccinated individuals is planned throughout the semester, with frequency determined by the level of community spread and public health recommendations.
- Since healthcare and other worksites may require COVID vaccination, the educational experience of unvaccinated students may be impacted.
- Are face masks required on campus?
The following guidance on masking could change throughout the semester due to changing campus, local, regional and national conditions:
- Fully vaccinated individuals: For fully vaccinated individuals, face masks are not required for outdoor activities. Face masks are recommended (but not required) for indoor classes and other activities. However there are exceptions to this recommendation:
- Masks will be required for certain situations including, but not limited to: when entering the Health and Wellness Center, Athletic Training rooms, other healthcare settings, in large indoor events, or when utilizing university buses and shuttles.
- The locations/situations where a mask will be required to enter/attend will be clearly marked and communicated.
- In addition, faculty, coaches and meeting/event leaders can make classroom and event/meeting decisions based on individual needs regarding masks.
- Everyone is expected to continue to carry masks in case they are needed.
- Unvaccinated individuals: Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a face mask at all times while on campus outside of individual residence hall rooms. Consistent with state guidance, enforcement of vaccine compliance is a personal responsibility. Consistent with state guidance, enforcement of vaccine compliance is a personal responsibility.
- Will there be an option to be fully remote for the fall for students who aren't vaccinated?
Alvernia students will have the ability to work with their advisors to coordinate a virtual schedule based on the Fall 2021 existing online offerings.
Please note that most classes will not be available in an online format.
In-person classes will resume, for all students, in classrooms that follow CDC and the PA Department of Health guidelines for higher education settings.
- Do I have to submit my COVID vaccine or meet the requirement if I am an online student who is never on campus?
Students who will not ever be attending classes on campus in person (or at an internship or clinical site) or using campus resources in person do not have to submit record of a COVID vaccination.
- Has Alvernia established a COVID-19 Dashboard for tracking COVID-19 cases in the campus community?
The university has established a COVID-19 Dashboard, which outlines testing and isolation of all students, faculty and staff studying or working at any of Alvernia's campuses (Reading, Philadelphia, or Schuylkill). The dashboard will be updated weekly during the semester.
- Will the university be utilizing the #CampusClear app during the Fall 2021 semester?
Alvernia will not be using the #CampusClear daily reporting app for Fall 2021. Everyone should continue to monitor their symptoms daily throughout the fall. Students on campus will have access to the Health and Wellness Center for necessary testing and counsel for any COVID-19 related illness. Employees should report any positive COVID-19 test to Human Resources or confirmed close contact exposure and consult their physician for medical guidance.
- What is Alvernia's COVID-19 testing plan for the Fall 2021 semester?
Alvernia will be utilizing two types of testing methods this year. The first, the Abbott Binax Now, is an antigen test. This type of method only tests for COVID. The university has separate tests for flu. The second method is the Abbott ID Now molecular PCR. Both testing methods are not on the FDA's list for recalls.
As in the Spring 2021 semester, Alvernia is again partnering with GENETWORx to help conduct COVID-19 testing.
Here are the new testing guidelines for the Fall 2021 semester:
- Resident Students:
- Pre-Arrival Testing: All unvaccinated resident students are required to complete a pre-arrival COVID-19 test within three days before arrival on campus for antigen test or 5 days before arrival on campus for PCR. Test results must be uploaded to the Student Health Portal in order to receive keys. This includes residential students who have not yet completed their vaccine series (2 weeks past 2nd dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Janssen/J&J vaccine). Following the pre-arrival test, it is vital to make sure students continue to self-quarantine up to move-in day. Vaccinated students are not required to submit a pre-arrival COVID-19 test.
- Student-athletes will need one PCR test or two rapid antigen tests at least two days apart upon arrival in order to participate in practices. One pre-arrival test, taken not more than 3 days before arrival, may be uploaded to the Student Health Portal. A second antigen test will be administered by Health & Wellness upon arrival. Student-athletes who do not come to check-in with a negative test will be tested upon arrival and again 2 days later before training and/or competition can begin.
- In-Semester Surveillance Testing: Alvernia University will conduct asymptomatic testing of a sampling of the unvaccinated Alvernia student population.
- In accordance with NCAA guidelines, student-athletes will be subject to weekly PCR and/or antigen testing to be eligible for training & competition. Athletes who miss weekly testing will not be able to participate (practice or competition) until the result of the next week's test comes back negative.
- Philadelphia and Schuylkill Campuses: The university will offer optional testing to students taking classes at the Philadelphia and Schuylkill Campuses.
- As during the 2020-21 academic year, Alvernia has secured rapid point of care, on-campus testing capabilities and is also partnering with local hospitals to test symptomatic students and those identified through contact tracing for COVID-19, as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.
- What is the difference between quarantine and isolation, and how does it apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated community members?
Isolation and quarantine are intended to limit the spread of disease, but they have different meanings and time requirements.
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others and helps prevent the spread of the disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.
Isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.
Based on the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.
The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.
- Unvaccinated individuals: Since symptoms typically develop between 2 to 10 days after exposure, all unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and/or been identified during the University's contact tracing process must quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with the individual, in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.
- Faculty and staff should quarantine at home and may work remotely if well enough to do so.
- Students living on campus may quarantine in spaces identified by the University or may go home if safe to do so.
- Students who live off-campus or at home should plan to quarantine in their current residence. County contact tracers will evaluate additional quarantine needs for students living off-campus as part of the contact tracing process.
- During quarantine, symptoms of COVID-19 may or may not develop.
- For those in quarantine who begin developing symptoms, they should do the following:
- Residential students experiencing symptoms should contact the Health and Wellness Center.
- Commuter students experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care provider and the Health and Wellness Center.
- Employees should contact their primary care provider, their supervisor and Allyson Mullin (Mullin@alvernia.edu).
- Vaccinated individuals: Fully vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine following an exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 unless they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Exposed vaccinated individuals should get COVID tested 3-5 days after the exposure. Individuals are expected to monitor their symptoms for 14 days after exposure and should wear a mask indoors after an exposure until test is negative. If unsure, students should contact the Health and Wellness Center for guidance and employees should consult their primary care provider and alert Human Resources (Mullin@alvernia.edu).
- Unvaccinated individuals: Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they need to discuss next steps with the Health and Wellness Center or the primary care provider before clearance to return to classes/activities/work is given.
- Faculty and staff should isolate themselves at home. Students living on campus will stay in a campus-provided isolation space. Individuals cannot return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be cleared by a physician to be with others at least 10 days after their symptoms first appeared, as long as the individual is without a fever for at least 24 hours with no fever-reducing medication, and symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be cleared by a physician to be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, a healthcare provider may recommend that they stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).
- During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact the Health and Wellness Center. Faculty and staff who test positive will need to self-isolate at home, and report their positive status to their supervisor and Allyson Mullin (Allyson.Mullin@alvernia.edu), so their unit can begin the contact tracing process.
- Vaccinated Individuals: Vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the same steps as unvaccinated individuals to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Are there penalties for students, faculty and staff who do not follow the health guidance related to working, leaving and being on campus?
All students are expected to follow all guidelines and recommendations established by Alvernia University. Non-compliance will be considered a policy violation and referred to the Office of Community Standards for follow up.
All Alvernia University employees are expected to follow all guidelines and recommendations to support a safe and respectful workplace. Non-compliance will be subject to the employee progressive disciplinary processes as necessary. As a Franciscan community, the university's expectation is full cooperation from all faculty and staff members.
- What if there is a virus flare on campus during the semester? Will Alvernia change campus operations?
The Alvernia Pandemic Response Team has created guidance, which has been informed by evidence-based science and/or expert opinions. This guidance covers most situations and will be revised as the understanding of COVID-19 and situational awareness changes.
The university regularly monitors and determines the level of operations for classes, housing, research and other events and activities using an established framework. Levels of operations range from a closed campus to fully open. Levels within this range include various combinations of online and in-person classes, class size densities, on-campus housing availability, and expanded or reduced research activities.
A combination of community and campus criteria might lead to further campus restrictions, partial closure or full closure.
During the 2020-21 academic year, Alvernia was able to successfully complete two in-person semesters thanks to the community's adherence of campus operation changes during times of increased COVID-19 cases on campus. The university is prepared to take these necessary steps again to ensure the health of the entire community.
- Has Alvernia placed any restrictions on travel for the upcoming academic year?
Alvernia has started to allow university-sponsored travel for the Fall 2021 semester.
Those considering personal international travel should review the CDC's updated travel health notices and research the restrictions imposed by the countries they plan on visiting.
- Are there any restrictions for internship or clinical sites for the 2021-22 academic year?
Departments requiring community-based placements (i.e., nursing clinical, student teaching, internships) will ensure that sites adhere to safety, health and physical distancing protocols and that students receive appropriate orientation and training before placement. Students should verify the availability of opportunities with their internship or clinical site supervisors. If students do not know their internship or clinical site supervisors, they should contact their Dean's Office.
It is important to note that since healthcare and other worksites may require COVID vaccination, the educational experience of unvaccinated students may be impacted.
- What is Alvernia doing regarding residential dining options for students, faculty and staff?
To-go options are available at Freshens (PLEX), Courtside Café (PEC) and Kestrel Café (Bernardine Hall).
In addition, students may purchase a reusable to-go container from the dining hall to use for to-go meals.
- Will there be a way for students to anonymously report non-compliance of health and safety guidelines?
All students are expected to follow all guidelines and recommendations established by Alvernia University. Non-compliance will be considered a policy violation and referred to the Office of Community Standards for follow up. Students can report non-compliant behaviors by their peers, through the already-existing notification system, Report It.
- What will residence life and student activities look like this year?
Alvernia looks forward to student residency during the 2021-2022 academic year. With the vaccine requirement in place and surveillance testing of unvaccinated students, we anticipate the residential experience to be similar to those of previous years. However, to continue protecting our residential community the visitation policy will be amended to the following:
- Non-Alvernia visitors are NOT permitted in the residence halls.
- Alvernia students may visit each other in their respective residence halls and rooms, as stated in the visitation policy in the residence life section of the student handbook. Reminder: the right to privacy and safety supersedes the right to have visitors. Roommates should discuss their expectations regarding visitors in their room while completing a roommate agreement form.
- What will athletics look like during the fall 2021 semester?
The Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) and Alvernia University have consistently endeavored to provide a path forward towards competition in all sports. For the fall 2021 semester, Alvernia will be following the NCAA's guidelines for resocialization for collegiate sports. If student athletes have questions about their specific sport, including testing requirements, they should contact their coach.
- What are the expectations for campus visitors?
Alvernia has established expectations for all campus visitors (including guest speakers) as well as for employees who invite visitors to campus.
- All visitors (including guest speakers) should complete self-monitoring of symptoms, which includes taking their temperature with a thermometerand screening other symptoms through the Alvernia Visitor COVID-19 Daily Self Checklist on a computer or mobile device by visiting or by filling out this paper form with a campus contact before entering any campus facility. This is expected of visitors each time they come to campus.
- Visitors must follow the university's current masking guidelines.
- Visitors should remain home if feeling ill or after having been exposed to someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 and reschedule their visit for a later time.
Prior To Arrival
- Employees should send a copy of the Visitor Expectations (listed above) to their guests before their arrival on campus.
- Employees should encourage their visitors to complete the Alvernia Visitor COVID-19 Daily Self Checklist before their arrival on campus.
- Will the university operate its usual shuttle services and how can I know where the shuttle is?
For the Fall 2021 semester, campus shuttles shall operate. All riders must wear masks while on shuttles.
Students, faculty and staff can check on the current location of Alvernia shuttles by downloading the Buswhere app on their mobile device by doing the following:
- Navigate to com/Alverniaand register with an Alvernia email address.
- Check the email for a registration link and click it.
- Enter a name, choose a password and enter a phone number.
- Enter the times they want to receive notifications (students should pick the times they use the shuttle most).
- Complete the registration and explore the site.
- Download the BusWhere for Alvernia app by searching "BusWhere for Alvernia University" in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
- Are outside groups able to utilize campus spaces for public events (conferences, lectures, etc.) while students are on campus?
Requests will be individually reviewed and considered continuously. Outside groups may submit their requests by emailing Jessica Miller at Jessica.Miller2@alvernia.edu. In person events may be cancelled due to conditions either on campus or in the larger community.
- How will students, parents and community members learn about university updates regarding COVID-19?
All relevant information, including updates, FAQs and further resources, will remain available on this page. The university recommends bookmarking this pages and revisiting often.
As with last year, the university plans to send weekly updates on Fridays.
The university will continue to provide updates via the university's email system. Parents are encouraged to sign up for Alvernia's new Parent communication platform, Campus ESP.
The university will share information via its social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Provost holds Q&A meetings for faculty as needed.
For any emergency communication, Alvernia will utilize the Omnilert email and text message system. The Alvernia community can register for that system here.
- What is the best way to inquire for more information or clarification?
The university understands that many have questions about the return to campus and the university's plans. The best method to voice those questions is by sending an email to Campus.Update@Alvernia.edu.
Due to the ongoing large number of inquiries, most questions will be answered in the form of new and updated FAQs and updated letters that can be found on this page.
- Are there resources available to help students, faculty, and staff transition to new learning and work environments?
Alvernia has developed a folder of resources to assist students, faculty and staff transition to new learning and work environments. These folders will be updated often.
Student Resource Folder
Faculty and Staff Resource Folder