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Columbus State University

January 6, 2021 - COVID-19 Update: Vaccine availability, start-of-semester reminders

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Earlier this week, the Georgia Department of Public Health published guidance on its website about the anticipated availability of COVID-19 vaccinations in Georgia. As the site notes, availability is currently limited and is being administered through a phased schedule as vaccine manufacturers fulfill orders.

Vaccine availability

GDPH's phased vaccine distribution requires that individuals register using the online registration form on the West Central Health District's website based on the specific phase for which they qualify. The website provides those qualifications and other information about vaccine administration. Based on that guidance, it appears that most employees will qualify for vaccinations during Phase 1, and students by Phase 3; at this time, however, GDPH has not indicated the timeframe for each phase.

Reminder: FFCRA leave and informal accommodations have expired

For CSU employees, all informal accommodations and leave under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired at the end of 2020. If you have continuing needs relating to those informal accommodations, you must take applicable leave or submit a Request for Formal Accommodations to Human Resources for review. In addition, you may work with your supervisor to formalize a teleworking or flextime arrangement per existing policy. Formal accommodations already on file with Human Resources will continue as approved by your supervisor.

Self-reporting remains vital

Self-reporting positive test results, exposure to those who have tested positive, or COVID-like symptoms remains crucial as we plan accordingly for everyone's safe return this semester. If you do submit a self-report, it's important that you not return to campus until you are instructed to do so by a COVID-19 Response Team member. Since acknowledgment from a team member may take up to 24 hours, you should update your instructor(s) or supervisor on the pending outcome of your self-report.

The best (and easiest) response to someone reporting to you that they are positive or have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 is to refer them to the online self-reporting form. Each person's situation - and the response to their situation - may differ, so it's best to give the COVID-19 Response Team the opportunity to intervene directly.

That said, if you do receive public health information of this nature, ensuring its reported in a timely manner is critical by:

  • emailing basic information, including the individual's 909 number (if available), to COVID-19 Response Team leaders Shana Young or Julio Llanos as an additional precaution.
    OR
  • completing the self-report form on a student's or coworker's behalf if they are unwilling or unable to do so by providing as much information as possible.

What should I do to keep myself and others safe?

Remaining in your "COVID bubble," wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance from others, avoiding crowded venues and events, and washing your hands often are the best interventions as we prepare for the spring semester. Cases around the state and nation continue to rise. As of Monday, CSU had 17 active positive, self-reported cases among students and employees - the most at any one time since the pandemic's onset.

If your holiday travel and celebrations placed you at a higher risk of exposure or you begin experiencing COVID-like symptoms, please get tested. Free testing is available through the Georgia Department of Public Health and its counterpart in other states if you are currently outside Georgia.

Readying campus for spring classes

Everyone at CSU continues to plan optimistically for all the opportunities the spring semester will offer - more in-person learning in the classroom, engagement through our student life and development programs, and fan spirit on the courts and fields where our student-athletes compete. That means we continue to employ the most prudent public health guidelines and the strictest sanitizing practices in our classrooms, residence halls and other facilities. (see the University Support Services website for those details).

Please also continue to share your questions and concerns through our COVID Questions and Ideas Form.

As always, thank you for what you are doing to show that #CougarsCareEverywhere by following the advice of public health officials and making wise choices.

Sincerely,

Julio Llanos, ATC
COVID-19 Response Team

Shana Young
COVID-19 Response Team