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Dickinson College updates on Spring 2021

Week of February 22, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Sent: February 26, 2021

To the Dickinson community: 

Before I provide our weekly COVID update, I want to acknowledge that this has been a difficult week for the Dickinson community. Because the video I emailed about last Friday is now part of a legal action, we are further limited in what we can share, but I want to assure you, once again, that we are investigating and will bring this matter to a just resolution as soon as possible.

I want to thank all of you who are following our health and safety protocols and making the responsible decisions to keep our community healthy. COVID-19 cases in Cumberland County have been decreasing, and I am pleased that our safety procedures, your cooperation and our rigorous testing protocols have helped to limit cases on campus.

Updated Information

As you know, our COVID-19 dashboard is updated regularly, and our Campus Reopening page has important information and guidelines for our community. We recently updated our COVID-19 Exposure Management Plan. As a reminder, students who are asked to quarantine or isolate should remain in their rooms except to use the bathroom or attend scheduled medical appointments at the Wellness Center. While I know this is not what you would like to do, please understand that we are taking these measures to protect the health of the campus.

We have updated the FAQs on testing, but, since our rigorous testing is so important to keeping our campus safe, I wanted to share a couple of those points here:

  • Employees should schedule their appointment time via the online calendar. Appointments may be scheduled through the end of the semester, and reminders are sent prior to each appointment.
  • Students who need to change their ongoing appointments should contact
  • You will need to sign in to your LabPass account to order each test. You will need to give your informed consent, respond to demographic questions and complete a few high-level health questions in order for your test to be approved.
  • Do not skip a test. If you miss a test and can make it later the same day or the day following your scheduled test, come to ATS and you will be worked in.

Facilities Challenges

As you know, we have experienced a significant number of pipe blockages this semester that have resulted in disruption to several buildings. Please do not flush wipes, paper towels or anything that isn’t toilet paper. We cannot emphasize that enough. When contractors come in, they are finding materials that should not be flushed in the pipe system.

Drayer, the HUB, Althouse, Conway, Morgan and Davidson-Wilson (DAWI) have all been impacted. It is important to note that most of the underground sewer lines are more than 50 years old. While backups occur almost every year, they have been more frequent this semester.

Because of COVID-19, many of our building have been unoccupied for close to a year, and we believe that has negatively impacted the system. Because wipes and more paper than usual are routinely being flushed down the toilets, the system is being heavily taxed. Due to current COVID-19 protocols that call for student pods being assigned to specific bathrooms, the closure of these assigned bathrooms has resulted in the need to relocate pods to alternative housing assignments in several instances.

The facilities at DAWI and Althouse are currently closed. The repair at DAWI is scheduled to be completed today. The repair work at Althouse is scheduled to occur on March 3 and should be wrapped up by March 5. 

We know that these issues create a real inconvenience to all on campus, and these repairs are very costly and time-consuming.

COVID-19 Vaccines

If you have received your COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to share that information with us. Students who have received both the first and second dose of the vaccine can upload their vaccination card to their patient portal or email it to Employees can upload their vaccine documentation here.

Once 14 days have passed since you have been fully vaccinated, if you are within 90 days post the second dose of the vaccine, you will not be required to quarantine if you are exposed to someone who may have COVID-19. However, once you go beyond the 90-day period, quarantine is again required with close contact.

We continue to work with the Community Action Network (CAN) to prepare for the widespread availability of vaccines.

  • The UPMC health system has set up a website,, where you can register when it is your turn to receive the vaccine. If guidance for the sign-up process is needed, a phone number is listed on the site and will be answered by contact center staff, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s worth noting that this registration does not immediately create an appointment, but it allows UPMC to plan and inform you about an eventual appointment.
  • Those who meet current Health Department eligibility criteria are encouraged to register online at or by calling 1-844-774-8883 to be notified when new appointments become available.

Right now, the best tool to find out about availability of vaccines is on the state Department of Health website. It can be a very frustrating process, but early mornings may be the best time to check.

If you want to find out whether you are eligible to receive the vaccine now, the state also has a Your Turn web tool to make it easier to find out when you are eligible to receive the vaccine.

As part of our work with CAN, we are also helping the county find volunteers who will help once larger vaccination clinics are established. Anyone who wants to assist must sign up through video will walk you through the process.

Thank you to our students, staff and faculty working every day to make this a successful semester.


Margee M. Ensign