January 14, 2021
Happy New Year! Welcome to our new students and welcome back to all of you who are returning! For those of you who were with us in the fall, we appreciate all of the feedback you gave us throughout the semester. We were able to respond to some of it immediately, and over the break, we made improvements to technology and specific spaces on campus. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of some changes that have already taken place, some things we are working on and some things that we need from you.
Health Acknowledgment Form & COVID-19 Training
Modified Phase 1: Gathering size limitations
As was shared in the memo from university leadership on Tuesday, to address an uptick in cases following the holidays, the city of New Orleans has expanded restrictions and is currently in Modified Phase I. During this phase, residents are not permitted to gather with anyone outside of their household. For those of you who live on campus, we encourage you to select your “pod” of 3 to 4 people and stick with those folks for meals and socialization. For off-campus students, your “household” includes the people who live in your apartment or house. While this is not welcome news for any of us, we must comply with the city’s restrictions. Classes and university programs are exempted from the city’s current rules regarding gatherings as the safety precautions taken in those settings are of a higher and more consistent standard. Tulane has also been chosen to be a distribution center for the COVID-19 vaccine, and we have already begun vaccinating our community. We will be following CDC and state guidelines on vaccine distribution and, as instructed, have begun with frontline healthcare workers, Campus Health staff who work directly with infected students, as well as frontline food service and custodial/operations staff and employees over 70 years old.
Mental Health & Wellness
We heard from many of you over the last semester that additional assistance is needed to support mental health and wellness, and that many of our COVID-19 safety requirements had unanticipated consequences. We want you to know, your health and safety are of the utmost concern to us. Here are some things we are implementing or augmenting for the spring to address the concerns that were raised:
- Lagniappe Days: Though we will not have a spring break or extended Mardi Gras break, we recognized the importance of having downtime, so we have added “Lagniappe Days” for you to unplug, relax or catch up on work. Scheduled Lagniappe Days: Tuesday, Feb. 16 – Mardi Gras day; Wednesday, March 10; Monday, March 22; Thursday, April 8; and Friday, April 30.
- Increased staff: We have added personnel in Case Management and Campus Health to expand care and support.
- Wellness App: In February, we will launch an app called You at College, a comprehensive well-being portal for students, faculty and staff. This portal is adaptable to any device and contains personalized resources, including those provided by the university. More information will be coming soon!
- Quarantine Changes: Over the holiday break, the CDC updated the quarantine protocol, so that those who are close contacts will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days, but instead may test on the seventh day of quarantine for potential release on day eight.
- Social Opportunities: We also understand the importance of creating opportunities for you to connect with and meet new people. We are committed to creating safe, small gatherings for you to meet other students and explore New Orleans.
We also heard from many students concerned about the compliance of their peers related to the public health requirements. To address this, we have increased staffing to focus on student compliance with these requirements. In the fall, we learned that the biggest threat to the health and safety of our community was when students chose to ignore the rules around gathering and host events that exceeded the size limit and ignored all other public health requirements. When identified, we suspended the hosts of such events. For this semester, even attending such an event may lead to your separation from the university. This is not because we are enthusiastic about suspending or expelling students, but because these events represent a significant threat to the Tulane and New Orleans community. If you are at an event where masks aren’t being worn, social distancing isn’t being practiced or the size is larger than what the city allows — you need to leave immediately.
We are hopeful that we may be able to revisit and relax these restrictions throughout the semester. We, too, want you to be able to get back to some semblance of normalcy, but we have to make sure that we can do that in conjunction with protecting our community. To see a list of all of the things that are the same and what’s different for this semester, click here.
We don’t expect this semester to be without challenges. I’ll close by reminding you that there are so many people here to help you navigate these challenges. Case Management is a great place to start if you’re not sure where to go. We are on campus in the basement of the Lavin-Bernick Center (Suite G02) M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach us by phone at 504-314-2160. If you have an after-hours emergency, you may contact our Student Affairs Professional On-Call at 504-920-9900. You can also file an online report and a case manager will reach out to you. We are here to help! I hope you have a great semester!
Dean of Students