Community Message: March 2, 2021

A message from President Harring to the Muhlenberg community

 Tuesday, March 2, 2021 00:00 PM

To the Muhlenberg Community,

The spring semester is off to a great start and I credit our students for the remarkable job they have done. When we began the semester, we were in a transitional, modified quarantine. We asked students to limit interactions with others until we received the results of our on-campus testing following move-in. Student response then, and for the past two weeks, has been phenomenal. During the first three weeks on campus, we have conducted 4,007 tests with only four positive cases. Simply amazing.

Our students’ efforts exemplify their care for the health and safety of everyone in our community, allowing us to move from Alert Level 3: High Alert in the first week to Alert Level 1: New Normal beginning this week. Additionally, our visitor policy—which dictates interaction on campus and within residences—is moving into Phase 3, which will allow for more student interaction. While we will continue to monitor conditions and may need to modify our alert level again in the coming weeks, this change to Alert Level 1 is demonstrative of what our collective efforts can achieve. Keep up the good work! You can find more information here about the updates to the College’s COVID-19 policy.

The pandemic has highlighted critical issues related to students’ mental health and emotional well-being. Fortunately, for the past three years, the College has collaborated with national health experts to expand and strengthen our work in this area. This included the integration of health and counseling services to provide students a single entry point for comprehensive support, increasing and diversifying staffing resources, implementing electronic medical records, and re-examining policies and resources to bolster student success. As part of these ongoing efforts, we recently announced a partnership with the nationwide JED Campus initiative. The JED Foundation assists institutions in strengthening mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs within a framework of multicultural competence and equitable and inclusive practices. Last week, the JED Foundation completed a virtual campus visit that will provide context for our four-year strategic collaboration.

At the start of the semester, following the Centennial Conference update, Muhlenberg announced that it would take the necessary steps to prepare for spring competition if conditions permit. Following our experience in the fall and the extensive planning completed by our athletics department, we are confident we can move forward with in-person training and practice to make it possible for late March competitions if it is safe to do so. We have been in discussion with a number of Centennial Conference institutions to develop shared return-to-play guidelines that prioritize health and safety.

The snow on campus is quickly melting and the renewal of spring is just around the corner. We have all worked hard to adapt to new policies and practices and it is so gratifying to be able to see the results of that effort. Thank you for the commitment you have shown to our community. While we still need to be vigilant in adhering to the College’s COVID policies, I am confident that together we can maintain a safe and healthy campus.


Kathleen Harring