COVID-19 Protocol Updates

January 14, 2022
Submitted By: COVID-19 Planning Group

This announcement contains critical information about updates to our mitigation measures for the spring semester including:

  • changes to our mask requirement
  • updated booster guidance and booster clinics
  • new isolation and quarantine protocols

Please make sure to read these details carefully to prepare for the semester. 

Updated Mask Requirement

There is growing evidence that cloth masks are not as effective at protecting against the Omicron variant as they were against past variants.

Based on this, in addition to recommendations from our health-care partners and local health departments, all students, employees, and visitors are now required to wear three-ply disposable, KN95, or N95 masks on campus.

If you wear a cloth mask, it must be worn over one of the other approved mask styles. Masks must completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps.

You must wear your mask anytime you are in the classroom, library, Sports Center, dining facilities (when not eating), and any other indoor location. Masks are not required outside, other than if social distancing is not possible or you are required to under the quarantine and isolation policy detailed below. You should not remove your mask to eat and drink in areas other than those designated for dining, or in your own workspace.

You are encouraged to maintain your own supply if you are able, and masks will also be available at many locations across campus. Please visit our website for these locations.

Booster Requirement Reminder and Changes to Eligibility

All members of the University community are required to upload evidence of their booster to the UHart Health Portal by January 19 or within seven days of eligibility.

The CDC recently changed its guidance for the timing of the Pfizer and Moderna boosters.

Eligibility is now defined as:

  • five months after receiving your second Pfizer or Moderna dose
  • two months after your J&J vaccination

If you are not yet eligible for a booster, you may still come to campus, but get your booster as soon as you become eligible and submit your documentation to the UHart portal within seven days. Please visit our website for instructions.

If you are eligible and have been unable schedule an appointment by Jan. 19, you must sign up for one of our on-campus clinics and get your booster within the first week of school to be in compliance with our requirement.

Quarantine and Isolation Protocols

The CDC recently issued updated guidance regarding quarantine and isolation periods. As a result, we have revised our policy.

If you test positive:
  • Plan to isolate for 10 days.
  • On Day 5 (day 0 is the day you tested positive), if you have no symptoms or symptoms are resolving, and you have been fever-free for 24 hours, take a rapid test.
  • If you are negative, you may leave isolation, but must always wear a mask when around others (even outside) for the next five days.
  • If you test positive, have a fever, and/or other symptoms on or after Day 5, continue to isolate for a full 10 days.  Please note that many people still test positive on Day 5, so it is important to plan for 10 days.
If you are exposed to a positive case:
  • If you are fully vaccinated and boosted, or are not yet eligible for your booster, you do not need to quarantine. Wear a mask whenever you are around other people (even outside). Test on Day 5, or any time you develop symptoms.
  • If you are unvaccinated or have not yet received your booster (and you are eligible), you must quarantine. Test on Day 5. If you are negative, you can leave quarantine and mask for five additional days both inside and outside.

If you are a residential student who must quarantine or isolate, we ask that you must return home for that period. If that is impossible due to distance, vulnerable family members at your residence, or other reasons, we will work with you to isolate or quarantine on campus, but there is limited space available.

Important Reminders

Arrival Testing

All residential students will be tested upon arrival to campus. This will be a rapid antigen test, which only detects active infections. If you tested positive over break, are symptom-free, and have completed your isolation period, you will not test positive using this test. (A PCR test can turn positive up to 90 days following an infection.) We strongly encourage students to take a rapid test the same day prior to traveling to campus to avoid having to travel back home. Students must be symptom-free following the isolation period to return to campus.

Campus Events

For at least the first two weeks of the semester, only University community members (students, faculty, and staff) will be allowed to attend in-person, on-campus events. External visitors will not be allowed in the residence halls. We will re-evaluate this policy by Feb. 1.

Additional Information to Come

Please continue to monitor your email in the coming days for important updates as we work to finalize additional protocols, including what to do if you develop symptoms and adjustments to our contact tracing program. We will also continue to provide updates on the Healthy Hawks website.