Dear Seminary Community,
I hope that all of you are finding time for rest and renewal in these summer days. We are looking ahead to the fall semester with great anticipation of opportunities to gather in the classrooms and campus spaces that are a cherished part of life together at Princeton Seminary. This season will require our collective patience and grace with one another, as we embrace new rhythms and many will be coming to campus for the very first time.
I am grateful to the many people who have been working faithfully to prepare our campus for the full return of students this fall, and I want to provide an update with our current plans.
We continue to monitor the public health situation closely and of course are prepared to pivot from these plans as conditions require and as the CDC and local health officials update their guidance. The rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country reminds us that the pandemic is not over, and we must remain vigilant and continue to safeguard the health of our community.
Vaccination will be required for all students and employees beginning in the fall semester, with exemptions permitted for documented medical or religious grounds. Ensuring that as many people as possible within our community are fully vaccinated will allow us to operate safely in the fall in classrooms and the workplace under as normal conditions as we can.
Vaccination records can be submitted through this secure form. Students must submit their completed vaccine cards by August 1. Employees must submit their completed vaccine cards by September 1.
Those who are not able to receive the vaccine and are granted exemptions will be expected to comply with additional health measures, including wearing face coverings indoors, participating in COVID-19 testing as requested, and maintaining quarantine after travel as necessary.
Thank you to all who have already submitted vaccination records. The majority of our community has already been vaccinated. If you have not already done so, please submit your card as soon as possible. A high vaccination rate will allow us to move forward with planning for a return to classrooms and campus life, while promoting the health and safety of our community.
We are planning for all courses to meet in-person in the fall semester. We hope that classrooms will function at normal occupancy without physical distancing. We will make a decision before the semester begins about whether face coverings will be required indoors for fully vaccinated people, following the guidance of the CDC and local health officials given the transmission rates in our county at the time.
All individuals are of course welcome to wear a face covering if they feel more comfortable. Please remember that there are a variety of reasons why someone may wish to wear a mask indoors, including out of care for vulnerable family members, a compromised immune system, or personal preference.
We look forward to gathering in Miller Chapel for worship. A final plan for safe communal worship, including guidelines about distancing and singing, will be developed mid-August, in consultation with health officials.
Events and gatherings will be permitted. Events for the PTS community will follow the same guidelines as in classrooms. Events that will include participants outside of the PTS community may be required to take additional health measures, including maintaining records of attendees. Those who are planning events should be in touch with the office of hospitality and event services to plan accordingly. All visitors for campus events will be expected to be vaccinated.
The dining room will be open Monday through Friday for lunch service in a new dining initiative in partnership with the Farminary. More information about the new dining program will be shared in coming weeks.
Health and Wellness Measures
An updated set of health and wellness guidelines for the fall semester will be forthcoming, which will include guidance for self-screening of symptoms and the protocols for classrooms and campus spaces, as indicated above.
We will continue to prioritize the daily cleaning and disinfection of common spaces and high-touch surfaces across campus. In addition, we have taken measures to upgrade ventilation systems in campus buildings to ensure air quality, including upgrading filters and increasing air exchange rates and outside air intake in our buildings. All ventilation equipment in campus buildings will be running constantly and monitored regularly.
Preparing for the Fall
We will provide additional updates in the coming weeks as we prepare to begin the new semester. As always, we hold our plans with humility and flexibility, ready to adapt as necessary, even as we are hopeful that the coming year will allow a greater degree of the kind of gatherings that we value in learning, worship, and fellowship.
I look forward to seeing you on campus and, in the meantime, I pray that each of you are enjoying the blessings of summer.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary