Aug. 13, 2021
Dear Faculty and Staff:
As you may be aware, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Dallas County due to the Delta variant, and a number of entities, from local governments, to churches, schools and businesses, are revisiting their COVID protocols.
In my last communication I mentioned that we would be endeavoring to return largely to normal with optional masking, and also that we would continue to review the ever-fluid COVID situation. The COVID Preparedness Committee has recommended requiring students to wear masks while in class. I’ve decided to accept this recommendation, but limit it to the first few weeks of school for now, with the intent of making adjustments as warranted with the advice and counsel of the committee. The classroom is the only indoor environment where students are required to be and where they will interact with individuals outside of those they live with. Masks are optional for faculty while teaching, although, if unmasked, it is recommended that they maintain a six-foot distance to the extent possible while teaching. Faculty who elect to teach unmasked are asked to be sensitive to the possibility of student concerns and be willing to accommodate those concerns to the extent possible (for example, allowing concerned students to sit farther from the instructor, etc.)
As you know, we are not requiring the COVID vaccine in Irving (the situation is very different in Rome; see Dr. Peter Hatlie’s letter of Aug. 10 here), and because those who have not been vaccinated appear to be especially susceptible to the Delta variant, we are taking this precautionary and temporary measure at the start of the academic year to minimize the risk of an outbreak. We also trust that outside of the classroom, individuals will choose to take whatever measures they deem prudent to protect themselves or their loved ones, based on their own assessment of COVID risk.
As always, we will monitor the situation both here in Irving and in Rome with vigilance. We will continue to review applicable settled local, state and federal regulations, guidance from public health agencies, and the COVID-19 protocols being implemented by our peer institutions nationwide, and we will issue updated guidance as necessary should the situation change. Let’s pray for continued health and well-being of all members of our community, and for Our Lady’s protection as we approach the new academic year.
Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy