HMI Semester Update: COVID-19 Protocols

Dear Semester 47 students and families,

I’m writing today with important and timely news of updates to our COVID-19 protocols and guidelines concerning vaccines, testing, and visitors. 

We are closely monitoring the current national surge in COVID-19 cases, specifically the rapid rise in the Delta variant. With students set to arrive on campus in less than 10 days, I realize that I’m writing to you today with what could be described as late breaking news. The COVID-19 landscape, however, remains quite fluid and serious. While COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in the prevention of serious disease, the Delta variant is still spreading rapidly and, according to the latest CDC guidance, can be transmitted by vaccinated people. As you know, we are also a unique school in that students live, eat, and sleep in close quarters on campus and share tents in the backcountry. All of these factors have helped inform our decision-making process. 

Based upon the recommendation of our physician advisor, we will now require all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of such vaccination, with limited documented exceptions (applicable law allows for medical and religious exemptions to this requirement). We believe that COVID-19 vaccinations are essential for supporting the well-being and health of our community and for allowing our programs to function at their highest quality. 

In addition to requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, we will implement the following mitigation strategies (also at the recommendation of our physician advisor):

  • All students must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) within 72 hours prior to arriving on campus on Monday, August 16th. If a student tests positive at this juncture, they must quarantine at home for a 10 day period before traveling to HMI.
  • All students will be tested with rapid antigen tests on campus on arrival day, Monday, August 16th. Students who test positive at this juncture will be taken to our doctor for a PCR test. If a student tests positive again, they will need to quarantine for a 10 day period. 
  • We have revised our on-campus visitor policy to restrict all non-essential campus visitors. We are hopeful that this will be a temporary change. We will still offer outdoor tours of campus for family members who drop students off on arrival day.

It’s important to recognize that these steps do not guarantee that we will not have a COVID-19 exposure on campus. That is still a possibility, one that we are very prepared to handle. These steps add additional layers of protection amid this latest national surge in COVID-19 cases. 

I look forward to welcoming Semester 47 to campus in just over a week and to writing to you with news of their backcountry adventures and academic classes. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.