An outlook on the spring semester

Dear Boilermakers, 

I want to start by thanking you all for once again stepping up in true Boilermaker fashion to protect Purdue this fall. 

More than 88% of all Boilermakers are vaccinated against COVID-19, compliance with required surveillance testing has been high overall, and an inspection of any building on campus would show near-perfect masking rates. 

Thanks to your diligence on matters such as these, our campus positivity rate has held steady at around 1% this fall. This is no small accomplishment, and each of you has played a part through your persistent efforts. 

As the fall semester draws to a close, I write to offer a preview of the spring semester, which includes, at the moment, an intention to relax some of our current Protect Purdue protocols on or around February 1. For instance, we currently intend to eliminate required masking in all indoor spaces except classrooms and other instructional spaces. Likewise, we hope to end or at least reduce much of our rigorous surveillance testing that has required a near-weekly commitment from some of you for more than a year now.

Importantly, our ability to do so will depend on the choices we all make while we’re away from campus and the work we do together to rebuild our “campus bubble” during the early weeks of the spring semester as we return to campus from literally all across the country and around the world. 

This means we will start the spring semester with the same COVID-19 protocols in place currently. We will continue to require face masks indoors for all and will resume in January our surveillance testing of those without documentation of having received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Our ability to relax our protocols also depends on the continued increase in the number of Boilermakers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the months to come, it is possible that the CDC definition of “fully vaccinated” may evolve to include the booster. Everyone living or working on campus is eligible to receive the free booster shot, and I strongly encourage you to do so before the end of this semester or while at home over the holiday break. (Make an appointment to receive the booster at the campus clinic here — please note it must be at least two months since you received the J&J vaccine or at least six months since you received the second dose of any other approved vaccine.)

As the spring semester begins, we will evaluate such factors as our campus caseloads and severity rates, vaccination rates and community factors with the hope that we can ease restrictions as mentioned beginning in early February. 

As has been the case since early 2020, our decisions will be based on the best medical and scientific guidance available, including that of our own team of leaders and experts, our external Medical Advisory Committee and our partners at the Tippecanoe County Health Department and the Indiana Department of Health. 

I know that the last year and a half has demanded sacrifice and inconvenience from each of us. Your commitment is paying off, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep up the great work so that we can all enjoy a fuller return to normal in the spring. 

Students, keep an eye on your Purdue email for specific guidance on return-to-campus protocols for the spring in the coming weeks. 

Wishing you all the best for a happy Thanksgiving and a successful end to the semester. 


Esteban Ramirez 

Chief Medical Officer, Protect Purdue Health Center