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FALL 2021 COVID-19 Update and Expectations

 

Dear Covenant Students: 

I pray this has been a restful and rejuvenating summer for you.  As the end of July approaches, we have been tracking recent COVID-19 developments locally and nationally as we revisit the tentative plans we shared in May.  After a quiet start to summer, we have experienced a rise in cases on campus in recent days and will continue to monitor and make adjustments to our fall semester plans accordingly.  Please see our current expectations below with the understanding that these can change prior to the start of classes.  Questions should be directed to covid19@covenant.edu

 

Entry Requirements

  • Vaccinated students must provide proof of vaccination upon or prior to their arrival on campus. Copies of vaccination cards can be emailed to healthservices@covenant.edu for those who would like to send this information prior to arrival. 

  • Unvaccinated students must provide proof of being COVID-free in a similar fashion as last year: negative PCR test result from the previous three days, negative rapid antigen test within the prior 24 hours, or proof of positive test dated between the previous 10 and 90 days.  These documents can be brought with you to campus or sent to studentdevelopment@covenant.edu.

  • Residential students need to do this prior to being allowed to move into their campus housing.  Commuter students must have completed this step before engaging in activity on campus (work, athletics, classes, etc.).

 

Vaccine Recommended

  • We continue to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine and strongly encourage you to get it in the near future if you are still undecided so that you have time to receive both shots of the two shot vaccines (Moderna or Pfizer) by the start of the academic year (the J&J one shot vaccine is also acceptable).  

  • We are not requiring the vaccine, but recognize that it is the best path forward for us to limit the spread across campus.  In recent days we have seen an increase in positive cases among employees, student workers, and summer camp attendees. This coincides with the increase in cases across the country as a result of the new delta variant which is highly contagious and spreading rapidly through unvaccinated individuals of all ages.  As a result, we hold loosely to these plans recognizing that we may need to increase restrictions depending on local and community spread in August.

 

Distancing and Capacities

We will begin the year with no distancing requirements on campus. Capacity limitations set for last year have been removed.  All classrooms, meeting rooms, dining facilities, auditoriums, etc. will resume 100% capacity to start the new academic year. 

 

Masks

  • Masks will be optional in most places on campus to begin the year (masks will be required upon entry to the Health Center and in select other locations on campus as noted).  

  • Mask usage will be the precaution most subject to change should we see increasing case counts and community spread on campus and in the surrounding community.

  • Anyone who wishes to wear a mask should always feel free to do so.  

  • Per CDC guidance, we recommend that those who are unvaccinated wear a face mask indoors in crowded settings such as classes and chapel.  

 

What to Bring to Campus

  • Face coverings that cover both nose and mouth and fit securely to your face (not face shields) - All students should bring five to seven face masks to campus in August as an outbreak could necessitate moving to a mask requirement at certain times and places (classes, chapel, etc.) where the community is in close proximity and transmission is more likely.  I know this is likely discouraging to many of you, but we again are asking for flexibility from you as we respond as necessary to protect the community and stay on track for in-person learning. 

  • Personal thermometer - We continue to recommend daily screenings to stay on top of potential infection.  Should you be quarantined, you will be asked to record your temperature regularly by Health Services.

 

Quarantine Guidance

If you are vaccinated (or tested positive in the previous 90 days), one major benefit you have is a different quarantine standard than those who are not vaccinated.  

  • Vaccinated individuals who are identified as a close contact to a positive case will not have to quarantine unless they are symptomatic.  
  • Those who are not vaccinated and become a close contact through exposure to a positive case will still have to quarantine for 10-14 days as required by public health guidelines
  • All who test positive regardless of vaccination status will have to isolate for at least ten days.

 

For those living less than 350 miles away, you will be required to quarantine/isolate off campus either at home or by making other arrangements.  You will not be allowed to quarantine/isolate on campus. With limited quarantine space on campus, rooms will be reserved for those who live further than 350 miles away as well as serve as temporary space for 24-48 hours while students make travel arrangements. Those in quarantine/isolation on campus will be provided a hot dinner with packaged breakfast items and a box lunch for the next day.  Similar to last year, we will not be providing a refund for room and board as a result of quarantine/isolation. 

 

Academic Expectations

  • We will no longer be streaming and recording classes for those in quarantine, nor will there be a remote learning option.  Pre-pandemic absence policies will be in effect. Students who are in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 exposure or infection will have to make up work and get notes the same as any student who experiences an absence from class for illness or injury.  

  • Students should communicate with their professors to understand how they are to maintain progress in their courses during their time of quarantine.  Each professor will approach this in the manner they best see fit for their respective courses.

 

We are exceedingly grateful for the Lord’s protection upon this community for the entirety of the 20-21 academic year and for the fact that we were able to complete both semesters in person.  This was due in no small part to the faithful compliance of the Covenant community to the measures we implemented for the protection of one another. While we hoped not to have to implement many restrictions for the upcoming semester, the steady rise of cases directly attributable to the COVID-19 delta variant gives us reason to have plans in place and request compliance and flexibility from you all again.  Regardless of your vaccination status, we ask that you remain faithful to wash your hands regularly (especially remembering to sanitize your hands before going through the food line), practice good respiratory etiquette, and immediately contact Health Services and get tested should you become symptomatic or become aware that you are a close contact to an infected individual.  

 

While the vaccine remains the best tool for slowing the spread of infection, we do recognize that some cannot get vaccinated due to personal medical conditions.  Our faithful vigilance as a community to these and any other measures needed in the future will hopefully allow us to slow the spread and sustain in-person classes and chapel for the duration of the academic year once again.  Thank you for your attention to these guidelines and please join me in praying for the Lord’s continued care of our Covenant Community in the year ahead.  

 

Sincerely,

Brad Voyles on behalf of the COVID-19 Committee

 

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