The spring 2021 semester at Regis College is a masterclass in COVID-19 response. From combating to an initial surge to returning to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy. And through it all, Kara Kolomitz says she was proud to see the university’s mission in action.
“The ideals of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston of love for the dear neighbor were never more evident at Regis this spring,” said Kolomitz, senior vice president and chief operating officer, who oversaw Regis’ COVID-19 response. “So many members of our community went above and beyond to support each other.”
More than 300 residential students returned to the Weston campus, where in-person learning was also expanded. And Health Services and the on-campus testing center were prepared for an increased work load. But with 37 cases in January alone and capacity exceed for on-campus wellness housing, the COVID-19 punch was certainly being felt on campus.
“We expected to see an increase in cases,” said Kolomitz. “But those first few weeks did present greater challenges than we initially anticipated.”
Through resiliency, few days off, and the entire campus community working together, the university managed to get through the initial surge and saw a dramatic drop in cases for the remainder of the spring.
“We had a surge at the beginning of the semester but we got through it and didn’t have another,” Kolomitz said. “It came and went because of our very good practices from personalized treatment plans and 24/7 monitoring of those with COVID-19, along with our campuswide mask wearing and social distancing parameters.”
From the first week of February to the first week of May, Regis College recorded just 29 cases, including two weeks with zero cases. And with 60 total cases out of almost 20,000 tests conducted as of May 19, the university’s positivity rate is .3 percent.
“We conquered the beginning of our journey, but now we move on to complete our marathon,” said Tammi Magazzu, associate dean and director of the Regis College Center for Health and Wellness. “We have to keep up the vigilance to keep our campus safe.”
Regis was able to avoid any disruption to in-person learning or campus life, which Kolomitz attributed in part the hard work and best practices of the faculty.
“Despite the fact that to a person both our on-campus and online faculty faced challenges from the pandemic themselves, they really demonstrated their commitment to creating the best possible learning experiences for students,” added Mary Erina Driscoll, vice president of academic affairs. They modelled what it means to be part of a caring community and continued to reach out to students they thought might need assistance.”
In fact, as cases remained low, and in accordance with public health guidance, on-campus activities were expanded as the semester progressed to include workouts, practices, and competition for athletic teams and end-of-the-year events for seniors.
“Our students faced this challenging semester head-on and made the sacrifices needed to safely attend in-person classes, clinical, and labs,” said Walt Horner, dean of students. “And as we moved through the semester, it was wonderful to see students participate in athletics, enjoy social and cultural events, and celebrate the Class of 2021 during Senior Week. The spring semester was about as challenging as it can get, but it brought out the best in so many of our students and the Regis community.”
Regis recently announced it will require COVID-19 vaccines for students, faculty, and staff prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester, as it plans for full capacity residency and entirely in-person learning.