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Face Covering Update for Fall 2021

Posted August 9, 2021 by Wheaton College Parent Engagement
Tags: Parent Announcements

Dear Students and Parents,

We previously announced plans to begin the new school year at Wheaton College with an indoor masking requirement only for those who are unvaccinated.

We are now seeing rapidly climbing COVID-19 numbers nationwide due to the aggressive transmission rates of the Delta variant, even among vaccinated people. We also know that our campus community will face unique challenges as more than 3,000 students travel from across the nation and the globe to campus. After prayerful consideration and in line with public health guidance, we have updated our fall plans to require that all students, employees, and visitors to campus — regardless of vaccination status — wear face coverings when indoors except when alone in an office, department, or campus housing.

Imposing this masking requirement at the start of the semester is disappointing for us, as we know it will be for our campus community. We will reevaluate the masking policy in light of public health conditions following Labor Day. We also anticipate making changes to COVID protocols, including the College’s face covering policy, throughout the fall semester.

From the beginning of Wheaton’s response to the pandemic, we have prayerfully sought to discern how best to pursue our mission, offering in-person, Christ-centered residential learning and loving our neighbors by protecting the vulnerable. Although we were not able to experience the fullness of campus life that we desired during the past year, we are thankful for God’s sovereign grace and guidance. We also acknowledge that, while we have worked to live and learn in community through this pandemic, everyone has experienced significant challenges.

Despite pandemic-related obstacles, we are pleased to provide more ways to be together in the coming school year. We will now be at full capacity in the classroom, in athletic and musical practices, performances, and most student activities. And — praise God — we plan to worship together in Chapel. Face covering and testing protocols are an important part of our plan to learn and worship together as a unified campus this school year. It is also our continued recommendation that everyone who is able to do so receive a COVID vaccine.

You are welcome to share any concerns at covid19@wheaton.edu. Our desire is to respond to each email with a personal response. However, given the time and effort required to prepare for the new school year, for the time being we will need to respond to most concerns through our FAQs and updates. Please review the FAQs and Updates page regularly for additional guidance.

We share this update in the context of a rapidly changing public health situation. Illinois Governor Pritzker recently announced a requirement that all K-12 students and staff wear face-coverings when indoors. Further, national, state, and county health officials strongly recommend face-coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in communities deemed to have substantial or high levels of transmission. We expect circumstances to continue changing. So, we ask for your patience and your prayers as we seek to be faithful to the Lord and to demonstrate care for the health and well-being of our students and employees.

Grace and peace,

COVID-19 Leadership Team