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Columbus State University

July 21, 2020 - Message from President Markwood

Good afternoon,

As we begin Stage 2 of our Return-to-Campus plan, we realize that you may still have concerns and questions about the process and how, together, we can create the safest campus possible for our students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities, within USG guidelines. We may not have all the answers to all the “what ifs,” but I wanted to share with you two major components of our plan.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is an important part of an overall comprehensive approach. Columbus State University has partnered with the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), which will provide leadership and guidance with the contact tracing process and execution.

Employees and students who show symptoms, are exposed to, or test positive for COVID-19 should report to the appropriate university official as soon as possible.

That designated official is as follows:

Supervisors, the dean of students, and director of residence life will immediately notify our campus-wide point person. This point person will initiate the institutional plan for contact tracing and any further notifications required with the GDPH. As a means of enforcing individuals’ various health and educational privacy protections, supervisors, the dean of students, and/or the director of residence life are not to share the news of, the identity of, or updates about a COVID-19 diagnosis/test with anyone other than the campus point person.

University Support Services will close any affected area necessary for proper cleaning as prescribed by the University System of Georgia (USG) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Implementation Guidance for Facilities Officers – Custodial Operations Focus, and in compliance with those received from the Georgia National Guard.

Testing

The CDC does not recommend entry testing for all students, faculty and staff. Testing should be used for symptomatic persons or for persons with first-hand exposure to an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Furthermore, GDPH does not recommend blanket screening procedures due to the limitations that the results provide. Instead, the department recommends testing based on time and symptom requirements: 10 days since symptoms began, improvement of symptoms and at least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever reducing medications (based on CDC guidelines updated on July 21, 2020). The GDPH strongly discourages the use of negative COVID-19 tests to return to work/campus.

Exposure to COVID-19 is defined by the Georgia Department of Public Health as:

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19;
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19;
  • Being within six feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes; OR,
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

Students who are symptomatic or have first-hand exposure to an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, should consult with their primary medical provider or call the Student Health Center. Non-resident students should leave campus and contact the Dean of Students. Residence Life students should contact the Director of Residence Life for instructions. These resident-students will be encouraged to return home, however, if that is not possible, they will be moved to a quarantine room within Residence Life. The university will provide students with transportation for testing, if needed.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns you would like to share regarding our return-to-campus planning and procedures, please submit them to our portal, https://columbusstate.formstack.com/forms/returning_to_campus_ideas_and_questions.

Please remember that this plan is subject to change as CDC guidelines and directives from the University System of Georgia adjust to this unpredictable situation. Please continue to refer to our plan online, https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/, for the latest information.

We are currently in Stage 2 of our plan which allows for limited campus tours for prospective students and their families and other necessary meetings. All visitors should call to schedule any appointment. Each of our offices can still be reached by email, phone, or on our website.

As we get closer to the start of fall semester, we will continue to share information with you by email and online, so you remain up to date on our plans, and your role in protecting yourself and others.

Your concerns are our concerns, so together we will remain committed to providing the most productive learning environment, while staying safe. That includes remembering to wear your mask if you find yourself on campus (or anytime you find yourself in public), as well as practicing physical distancing and rigorous hand-washing.

Thanks for all you do for our students, our community, and each other.

President Chris Markwood