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Columbus State University

May 18, 2021 - COVID-19 Weekly Update

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Based on the most recent guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and the University System of Georgia, Columbus State University is modifying pandemic-related practices on its campuses - effective immediately.

How is CSU responding to this new guidance?

Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals may now attend class, perform workplace duties and participate in university activities without wearing a face covering or physically distancing. This applies to both indoor and outdoor situations.

Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to get a vaccine, to continue wearing a face covering, and to continue physically distancing from others when possible. The vaccines are safe and effective; however, obtaining one is a personal decision and vaccinations will not be required to study on, work at or visit our campuses. Vaccinations continue to be administered throughout Georgia for those wishing to be vaccinated.

Am I going to have to prove I'm vaccinated?

The university is not empowered to inquire into or require documentation of one's vaccination status. Furthermore, the USG has affirmed that full vaccination is not required or expected to be required for return to studies or return to work now or in the fall. Therefore, adherence to this guidance is based on personal responsibility.

When am I fully vaccinated?

As a reminder, the CDC notes that someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

What about physical distancing?

Classrooms and other physical spaces are in the process of being reset to their pre-pandemic configurations and capacities.

What about learning or workplace accommodations?

All alternate educational arrangements, or accommodations granted to students for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19, concluded on May 17 with the start of the summer term. Per the USG, lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.

All alternate work arrangements, or accommodations granted to employees for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19, concluded on May 17 with our full return-to-campus staffing. Per the USG, lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.

What about summer youth camps and outreach programs?

CSU's summer camps and outreach centers serve a wide variety of individuals - including those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. For those reasons, face coverings will be expected of those participants. Leaders and counselors for these programs should continue wearing masks indoors per CDC recommendations and in deference to the health of our youth participants. Likewise, physical distancing will continue to be employed by these programs where required for participants' safety.

What about self-reporting, quarantining and isolating?

CSU continues to encourage students, faculty, staff and visitors to self-report positive cases, possible exposures and COVID-related symptoms until further notice. The COVID-19 Response Team will continue to provide guidance on the need to self-quarantine and self-isolate in reply to those reports.

Embracing the differences among us…

Our core values call for us to embrace the diversity among us and ensure an inclusive environment for all. That will be important as we make this move toward "roaring back better" or "normalcy." Some among the CSU Family will not be vaccinated due to medical situations, religious beliefs and the like. They will still require our understanding and cooperation as they continue to rely on the protection afforded by face coverings and physical distancing.

Others among our family have lost friends and loved ones to COVID. Their experiences during this pandemic may still include the security that comes from these same personal protective measures - even if they are fully vaccinated.

Others who are fully vaccinated may continue to wear a face covering as a sign of solidarity with those who are not yet able to remove theirs - especially solidarity with their children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
Whatever the reason, not everyone will be able to fully embrace the changes in our public health guidelines. We, however, ask that you fully embrace their decisions to continue wearing face coverings and maintaining a safe distance from others in their classroom or workspace - whatever the reason behind those decisions.

Change remains a constant…

If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that change is a constant. For this period in the pandemic, change will mean making an effort to return our campus spaces and how we go about our days to "normal" as much as possible. It might also mean hanging onto some of the tools and technology that have made our days throughout this pandemic a little more efficient. We must also stand ready to redeploy public health practices in response to unforeseen changes.

Whatever life throws our way next, please know that we are grateful to each of you for helping Columbus State persevere to this stage of the pandemic - and for what you have done thus far to help keep each other safe and healthy. We have not yet crossed the finish line, but we continue to stand firm and battle-tested for what lies ahead.

Sincerely,

Chris Markwood
President

Shana Young and Julio Llanos, Co-Chairs
COVID-19 Response Team