Update on Fall 2021

Dear Oglethorpe Community:

We are excited to begin the Fall 2021 semester and ready to welcome our new and returning Petrels! As many of you know, we continue to adapt our return-to-campus planning based on the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fundamental to our decision-making is our commitment to maintaining the health and well-being of our community and providing the highest quality educational experience for student success.  

As we welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus, the leadership team has adapted some of the plans for starting the semester. These decisions are based on our students/faculty/staff vaccination rate, which is over 91%; direction from the university’s health consultants; input from the COVID-19 Task Force; CDC guidelines; and guidance from the local and state departments of health. More details about these changes are available on the COVID-19 Communications site. Here is a summary highlighting our initial approach to the fall semester:

  • Vaccine Mandate. Students, faculty, and staff are expected to be fully immunized against COVID-19 for the Fall 2021 semester. Individuals may apply for a medical or religious accommodation. Students and employees were asked to confirm their vaccination status or apply for an accommodation through the appropriate acknowledgment form. Details about the vaccine mandate and the acknowledgment forms can be found on the COVID-19 Communications site.  To date, 97% of our students, faculty, and staff have completed this form. Way to go, Petrels!
  • Students and employees, regardless of vaccination status, must wear face masks in all indoors spaces, unless you are actively eating or drinking, in a personal residence hall room, or in a single office. 
  • In-person classes will continue as planned. Masking is required in all classrooms by students and faculty. Please note that due to their limited effectiveness, face shields are not an acceptable type of face covering.  
  • Orientation and Welcome Weekend will continue as planned. Please reach out to Campus Life with any questions about these events. 
  • COVID-19 Testing. We are requiring all those who are unvaccinated or those not fully vaccinated to submit a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours in advance of arrival on campus. Additionally, unvaccinated students and employees will be tested throughout the fall semester. Both PCR and antigen tests will be accepted. More details about the process and how to access tests will be included in a forthcoming COVID-19 Task Force update.  
  • Isolation and Quarantine. Any student or employee, regardless of vaccinated status, exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms or feeling ill should stay home and contact their primary care provider for guidance before returning to campus. We will provide temporary housing for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. While in isolation, students will have access to support services. Students can contact Campus Life for more details.
  • Working on Campus. Staff are now back on campus and will be available to assist students in person and remotely. 
  • Visitor Policy. Visitors and guests must wear a face mask while indoors and follow other COVID-19-related guidelines. Guests at athletic events may also be required to follow SAA/NCAA guidelines, which would include wearing masks at events. Please contact Todd Brooks, Director of Athletics, with questions about athletic guidelines. 
  • University Events. Masking is required at all indoor university events and athletic events. Face coverings are not required outside, although we recommend that anyone who is unvaccinated continue wearing a mask outdoors. Remote or virtual meetings and events are still strongly encouraged when possible. 
  • Student Events. We encourage, when possible, that all student-sponsored events use a virtual format. All social gatherings in Greek Row must be approved. Students should contact Dr. Kyle Williams, Dean of Students, with questions. 

We will continue to monitor campus and community transmission rates and work with the university’s health consultants and the COVID-19 Task Force to make ongoing assessments about university operations and may adjust policies and plans throughout the semester. For ongoing updates and FAQs visit: covid19.oglethorpe.edu

Remember that we are all in this together. While our community vaccination rate and taking these extra precautions will make Oglethorpe safer, each of us has a personal responsibility to remain vigilant in protecting the health of our community. This includes taking the steps you need and accessing available resources to preserve your mental health and manage stress. Lastly, remember to watch your distance, practice good hygiene, and to operate with kindness and empathy.


Nick Ladany, Ph.D. 

President, Oglethorpe University