Dear colleagues,

While my time on campus can still be measured in a few weeks, I have been inspired by the members of this community whom I have had the honor of meeting. I look forward to continuing to spend time with all of you as we prepare to welcome students back for the fall semester.  

We are a community, and this special commitment to community is the reason why Bill and I were so excited to join you. The dedication to our mission, our shared vision of educating the next generation of leaders, and our belief in each other is central to who we are. As we return from a year of separation and video interactions, there is no doubt we are stronger together, and I cannot wait to see you on campus as we deliver a robust, residential educational experience that includes the full array of in-person instruction, experiential learning opportunities, athletics competitions, arts performances, and student activities that contribute to making a Lafayette education transformative.

As I believe we are stronger together, we also can be safer together. After spending the summer months monitoring the situation, we are now extending the COVID-19 vaccine requirement to all faculty and staff, in addition to students.

We will discuss this policy change and take your questions during a virtual town hall at 11 a.m. today (register). You will find details within the campus protocols and a COVID-19 employee vaccine requirement FAQ; that information will be updated during the coming days.

It is important that we take this step now, given the escalating health risks presented by the delta variant and the growing number of virus cases regionally. Our medical experts agree the best way to protect our entire campus community and fulfill our educational mission is to require all members to be vaccinated. Exemptions to this requirement can be sought for medical or religious reasons; requests must be submitted by Sept. 1. Specific information about the exemption request process will be available in the coming days.

The vaccine requirement includes visiting and adjunct faculty and part-time staff. We also are requiring vaccinations for the employees who provide campus dining and custodial services as they interact closely and regularly with our students, faculty, and staff. Visitors will be encouraged to be vaccinated before coming to campus, and they must abide by all COVID-19-related safety protocols while they are here.

We are finalizing the logistical specifics to implement this vaccine requirement, and we will share that information in the coming days. This will include how to document that you have been vaccinated, where to get the vaccine, and how to seek a medical or religious exemption, among other details. Because completion of a two-shot vaccine protocol can stretch for up to six weeks for the inoculation to be considered fully effective, we are taking these additional steps:

  • Effective the week of Aug. 30, those not fully vaccinated must be tested weekly for COVID-19. They also must wear a mask indoors at all times, even if the current indoor mask mandate on campus is lifted, until they complete the vaccine protocol. More information on testing will be provided.
  • Anyone who is not fully vaccinated by Oct. 15 and does not have an authorized religious or medical exemption will not be permitted to continue working and could jeopardize their continued employment with the College.

Please know the motivation behind this decision is two-fold: the safety of our community and the desire to be in community with one another. If you have not done so already, please get vaccinated. I look forward to beginning the semester and the great things we will accomplish together.

With gratitude, 

Nicole Farmer Hurd