Let’s celebrate: DeLand campus reaches 70% vaccination rate
Stetson University’s DeLand campus reached its goal Thursday, Sept. 23, to achieve a 70% overall vaccination rate, including 88.58% of employees and 65.72% of students.
In an email to students, faculty and staff, President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, and the Stetson Safer Campus Task Force members called it “a significant milestone” in Stetson’s strategy to maintain a healthy campus.
“It demonstrates your commitment to the safety and well-being of our community,” they wrote Thursday morning. “We applaud the community for its work toward this initial goal and expect continued progress toward an even higher rate of vaccination on our campuses.”
The milestone brings increased freedoms under Stetson’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as how many Stetson guests are allowed in residence hall rooms and how many people can attend campus events.
To celebrate the milestone, the University has scheduled a Schmancy Pops and Kettle Corn Party on Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 12-3 p.m. outside the Rinker Welcome Center on the McGraw Patio (South Side). Community members can enjoy Schmancy Pops, kettle corn, lemonade and iced tea.
In the event of rain, the celebration will move inside to the Rinker Welcome Center Atrium.
“Seventy percent is a huge accomplishment and we should be proud of ourselves!” said Student Government Association President Lana Kolchinsky. “The rise of the Delta variant has put a damper on the campus COVID regulations; however, we remain hopeful that, just like each challenge we have faced together in the past two years, we shall overcome this one just the same.”
SGA Vice President Joshua Finkelstein added that reaching the goal “means that we are getting closer to going back to normal! I can’t stress it enough to go get vaccinated.”
Overall, the University remains in Tier 2.5 with face covering policies continuing. Given the vaccination-rate achievement of the DeLand campus — along with the current statewide status of the Delta variant — the University announced the following adjustments, effective immediately:
- Two Stetson guests allowed in residential rooms with face coverings
- One overnight Stetson guest permitted with face coverings unless sleeping
Registered and Approved Groups and Gatherings
- Increase capacity sizes to 50 people
- Dining options allow for any Stetson dining or commercial vendor
- Table options allow 3-feet spacing when eating or drinking
Community members, who are not yet vaccinated, are encouraged to visit the Safer Stetson Vaccination webpage to find a nearby location. Afterward, they are asked to please voluntarily register their COVID-19 vaccination through the confidential university online form.
“Every vaccinated person means less sick people,” said Lynn Schoenberg, co-interim vice president of Campus Life & Student Success, dean of Students and co-chair of the Safer Campus Task Force. “Particularly, it means less severe illness and impact on local hospital and Stetson systems.”
Current science indicates the Stetson community will need a higher vaccination rate than 70% — even as high as 90%, given the Delta variant. “Every shot in arms counts,” she said.
“If you are vaccinated, help us by talking to your friends and colleagues about your reasons for vaccination,” Schoenberg continued. “If you are not yet vaccinated, we welcome conversations about this. We expect every member of the Stetson community to vaccinate.”
Added Johana Burgos, director of Stetson Health Service, “As more of our population gets vaccinated, the virus has less ability to transmit, and therefore, mutate into new strains. Stopping the spread and preventing future variants is really up to all of us.”
The vaccines currently authorized in the United States have proven to be highly effective against the original virus and variants, such as Delta, Burgos said. Although breakthrough infections have been reported, the effects on the human body are much less severe if a person has been vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best defense against getting severely ill or dying from this infection, in addition to preventing further mutations and variants, which may be resistant to the current vaccines,” she explained.
More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at COVID-19 vaccines & variants.
Burgos and Schoenberg both emphasized that Stetson’s health and safety protocols are currently working. For example, the Safer Stetson dashboard showed just four active cases of COVID-19 on the DeLand campus as of Thursday afternoon – two cases involving students and two affecting employees.
They encourage everyone to keep washing their hands, wearing facial coverings correctly, watching physical distancing and group size, and staying home when sick (as well as reporting it at www.stetson.edu/reportit). People can also be good bystanders and educate others.
“Our vaccination numbers are proof that our community cares, and I feel very proud to be a Hatter!” Burgos said.