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COVID-19 Response and Updates

COVID-19 Response and Updates

Fall 2021 Outlook

August 3, 2021

Columbus State University's COVID-19 Response Team continues to advise the university's executive leadership through frequent consultation with its counterparts at the University System of Georgia. The USG continues to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the wellness and safety of CSU and all 26 of its campus communities.

The following procedures pertain to Fall 2021; however, all expectations outlined here are subject to change based on updated guidance from the University System of Georgia, recommendations from GDPH or Executive Orders from the Governor's Office. CSU will remain flexible in its planning and be prepared to change course as necessary.

Vaccination

The University System of Georgia recognizes COVID-19 vaccines offer safe, effective protection and urges all students, faculty, staff and visitors to get vaccinated either on campus or with a local provider. CSU and other USG institutions will continue to ensure vaccine availability to students, faculty and staff either through on-campus vaccination clinics or partnerships with local providers. Institutions are not responsible for assessing current COVID-19 vaccination rates for their institution.

No student or employee should be treated differently or segregated in class or work situations based on their vaccination status. Furthermore, faculty, supervisors and peers should refrain from asking others about their vaccination status.

See "Vaccines and Vaccination Status" for additional guidance.

Symptoms

Any references to "COVID-like symptoms" here in this guidance or on campus include, but are not limited to: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, headache, new loss of taste or smell, muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. These will continue to be updated based on GDPH guidance.

Face Coverings and Masks

Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a face covering or mask while inside CSU and other USG facilities, regardless of their vaccination status. However, masks and face coverings are not required in USG facilities or outside on USG campuses. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a mask or face covering.

USG allows two exceptions to this general rule, regardless of vaccination status, which CSU will enforce with the start of the fall semester:

  • students visiting the Student Health Center.
  • anyone riding on a CSU shuttle.

Our university community continues to include some individuals who are unable to be vaccinated due to their personal health situations. For those reasons, they will continue wearing face coverings and may request physical distancing options in class or work situations, where those are possible. Others may continue wearing face coverings and physically distance themselves when possible as an added layer of precaution or in support of others who are unvaccinated. 

Furthermore, faculty may request that students in their classrooms wear face coverings as a courtesy, and employees can ask the same of their coworkers who visit or meet in their personal office spaces. Individuals on campus should not be discriminated against, segregated or treated hostilely for their decision to wear or not wear a face covering or mask in classrooms, workspaces or other campus environments.

Physical Distancing

Fully vaccinated individuals can resume classes and other campus activities without physically distancing themselves. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue physically distancing from others where and when possible. As a policy, physical distancing will not be required at any USG institution.

COVID-19 Response Team

CSU's COVID-19 Response Team will remain active during the fall semester by monitoring the local public health situation and sharing those observations with senior CSU leadership and its USG counterparts; accepting self-reports and reporting that information weekly to the campus community; and following existing contact tracing procedures.

Self-Reporting

CSU's COVID-19 Response Team will continue to encourage and receive self-reports from students, employees and campus guests through its online COVID-19 Self-Report Form. Individuals who study at, work for or visit CSU should monitor their symptoms before and after their presence on campus and complete an online self-report if they (regardless of their vaccination status) experience COVID-19-like symptoms, test positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19, or come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

CSU's expectations and procedures for contact training remain the same and in alignment with GDPH guidelines. 

Only designated members of CSU's COVID-19 Response Team may engage in contact tracing/contact notification. In the context of contact notification/contact tracing, personnel conducting the notification may ask a person's vaccination status and may ask for proof of vaccination; however, proof is not required.

Quarantining and Isolating

The expectations for quarantine (for those who may have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case) and isolation (for those testing positive for COVID-19) remain the same and are in alignment with GDPH guidelines. For guidance on how best to quarantine and isolate yourself, visit the CDC website.

Verified vaccination status can be used to determine whether a person should quarantine after a close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19. GDPH guidelines currently indicate that fully vaccinated individuals with appropriate verification will not have to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated students and employees who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine if they show no symptoms.

Beginning this fall, CSU will discontinue on-campus quarantining and isolation for students exposed to or infected by COVID-19. Students in these situations will be advised to isolate/quarantine or recuperate at their permanent residence, except in rare circumstances (see "Guidance for Residential Students" for those situations).

Cleaning and Disinfecting

University Support Services will continue to employ the current CDC guidance endorsed by the Georgia Department of Public Health on how and when to clean and disinfect campus facilities or areas involved in suspected exposures to or positive cases of COVID-19. Requests for cleaning and disinfecting services will typically result as an byproduct of contact tracing efforts by the COVID-19 Response Team. University Support Services will confer with the COVID-19 Response Team on the necessity of requests to clean and disinfect classrooms, residential spaces and office spaces if those requests are received outside COVID-19 Response Team procedures.

Events and Gatherings

All USG institutions should follow the most recent Executive Order from the Governor's Office related to events and gatherings. Beyond that guidance, institutions may establish institution-specific guidelines for hosting events and gatherings that include appropriate mitigation. At CSU, meetings and events will be planned with physical distancing opportunities in mind (where those arrangements are possible and conducive to the goals of the event or meeting). Some university events will continue to feature virtual options to be more inclusive and as a means of reaching students enrolled in online courses, prospective students, alumni and other audiences.

Travel

As of May 2021, Georgia is no longer under a non-essential travel ban. Regular travel may resume under normal travel policies. Institutions should carefully consider international travel restrictions and requirements prior to authorizing international travel.

Athletics

USG institutions will follow their athletic conference guidelines for COVID-19. For CSU, that will be guidance provided by the NCAA and the Peach Belt Conference. In some cases, conference guidelines may differ from CSU and USG policies.

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