Updated COVID Protocols at the University

https://new.sewanee.edu/2019-n...

In a letter to faculty and staff, Vice-Chancellor Brigety explained the University’s COVID-19 protocols and procedures for the fall semester.

September 4, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

As the semester begins, my senior staff and I want to be sure that the University’s COVID-19 protocols and procedures are clearly articulated and understood. Last year our policies were laser-focused on keeping the virus off campus. This year, with the availability of effective, safe vaccines and reliable mitigation techniques, the University is able to return to a more traditional campus experience as our community learns to live with some degree of COVID-19 infection on campus. Several items below represent shifts from previously announced protocols.

In practice, here’s what that means:

Vaccination is required for all students, faculty, and staff, effective Oct. 5, 2021.

Masks are required in public spaces inside all University buildings except student residences.

After one full cycle of testing all students (see dashboard), the University is canceling the second cycle previously announced for the coming week.

Weekly screening tests will be discontinued for all students. Students who are currently unvaccinated and those who remain unvaccinated with an approved exemption after Oct. 5 are no longer required to be tested. Testing fees will be refunded on a prorated basis. Student-athletes will continue to be tested according to NCAA regulations.

Students who have symptoms or think they might be infected may call University Health Service for triage, an appointment, and testing options. The University will no longer require that students leave campus to quarantine or isolate and will not provide quarantine or isolation space.

Employees who have symptoms or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 should seek the care of a doctor and make use of the numerous local testing resources. If you are symptomatic or concerned enough to be tested, please do not report to work and do not return to work while waiting for your test result. Please see the FAQs for complete details.

Here’s why our approach has changed:

Because the Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants, the measures needed to prevent the virus from reaching campus would be even more extreme than those we engaged last year. Our approach, therefore, focuses on complete community vaccination, masking indoors, symptomatic testing, continuing to stress hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and the expectation that all students and employees take personal responsibility for their own health and, importantly, to do their part to help protect our community.

Further, the CDC indicates that people who are fully vaccinated are at low risk of severe infection, even in areas with high community spread of the Delta variant. Again, by requiring vaccination, indoor masking, and other mitigation protocols, we are attempting to create an environment for our students, faculty, and staff to remain together for a more traditional campus experience.

COVID-19 is likely to become endemic; it will not disappear. Collectively, we are going to have to learn to live with some degree of COVID-19 infection on campus by putting in place data-informed policies, by caring for ourselves as we care for one another, and by being resilient and flexible enough to pivot when conditions call for it.

I hope this note clarifies the details of our approach and how our current plan was formulated. My colleagues and I appreciate your patience and perseverance. We will get through this, together, with grit and with grace.

Sincerely.

Reuben E. Brigety II, Ph.D.

U.S. Ambassador (ret.)

Vice-Chancellor and President

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