College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message with the campus community on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021:
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I apologize in advance for the length of this email, but I want to update you on the latest COVID-19 protocols and procedures for campus as we near the official beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
I know we all hoped that the COVID-19 pandemic would factor in less this semester than the past few, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. The risk posed by the virus is still very much among us, and we have to continue to follow mitigation protocols in order to best minimize the risks and keep our campus as safe and healthy as possible.
Let me start with some very simple guidance:
- If you have not already done so, talk to your doctor and get vaccinated.
- If you are indoors and around others, join me and mask up!
- Take advantage of the free and frequent testing events on campus, and if you feel sick, stay home and get tested.
Joining together and following these steps out of respect for our community and each other, we can and we will have a safe and productive semester. Below are more specific updates on our Fall 2021 COVID-19 mitigation plan.
Vaccinations for Students and Employees
- Everyone in our campus community (students and employees) is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Note: per state law, the College of Charleston is NOT allowed to require COVID-19 vaccination.
- Free vaccination clinics will be made available to students twice a week once classes start through Student Health Services (181 Calhoun Street).
- Employees can find any number of free clinics around campus and throughout the Charleston region.
- The College will begin collecting employee vaccination status on a voluntary basis.
- If you wish to share your vaccination status, please do so by using the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/tTtieuvtm2
- The College will announce incentive campaigns for both vaccinated students and employees. Incentives will range from scholarships for students to professional development funds for staff. Details on these programs will be coming out soon.
- Only those who have submitted proof of vaccination will be eligible for these incentives.
- Vaccination statistics
- Employees: Based on a previous anonymous survey of faculty and staff this summer, we can estimate about 93% of the employee population is fully vaccinated. The manner of the survey does present some potential bias, but it does show that, given the sample size, an overwhelming majority of our employees are vaccinated. The College will continue to encourage employees to voluntarily report their vaccination status here.
- Students: Students continue to upload their vaccination documentation before the start of classes, and, at this time, nearly 60 percent of the entire student body has indicated that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
- The College strongly encourages the wearing of face masks while around others, indoors. Note: per state law, the College is NOT allowed to require masks on campus.
- While not required, faculty and staff can ask others around them to please voluntarily wear a mask while interacting with them.
- For example, it is reasonable for faculty members who have young children at home who cannot be vaccinated to share that circumstance with the students in their class and ask that out of respect for their family/circumstances that students please voluntarily wear a face mask while in their class.
- The College has a supply of maroon, cloth face masks available at Central Stores. If you need face coverings, please contact Central Stores about scheduling a delivery.
- Procurement is currently working to source N-95 face masks for faculty to use in the classroom, if they so choose. Once those N-95 masks are available, they will be supplied to the various deans’ offices.
- Signage encouraging face mask usage will be displayed around campus to remind students, employees and visitors to mask up.
- All students are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus.
- There are two exemptions to this requirement:
- Students who have submitted documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination, or
- Students who have submitted a positive COVID-19 test from the last 90 days.
- There are two exemptions to this requirement:
- Ongoing testing will be offered on a weekly basis throughout the semester.
- NOTE: Per state law, the College is NOT allowed to mandate testing for unvaccinated students, with the exception of the arrival testing.
- Employees are welcome to participate in the weekly testing clinics.
- In addition, the College is exploring rapid-testing options for employees.
- This testing option can be used as frequently as desired by faculty and staff.
- Additional details regarding this effort will be forthcoming.
Quarantine and Isolation Protocol for Students
- Vaccinated students who have close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will not have to quarantine automatically.
- They will be asked to closely monitor symptoms; should symptoms develop, they will need to notify Student Health Services and be tested.
- Non-vaccinated students who have close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will have to quarantine for 10 days and be tested.
- If they become symptomatic or test positive, they will isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test.
- Classes that were not initially created as fully online will be conducted in a face-to-face manner at their scheduled time and location.
- In classes where there are a series of COVID-19 absences, faculty may elect to move the section to a fully online mode for the duration of the time the students are in quarantine.
- Students in quarantine or isolation should make arrangements with their professors to keep up on their coursework.
- The College is no longer permitted to offer COVID-19 specific accommodations as it did last academic year.
- However, the College still offers accommodations as required by ADA and FMLA. If you think your circumstances qualify for either of these two, please work with your supervisor and coordinate with Human Resources.
- More information about employee-related matters can be found in the Employee Information FAQ on Back on the Bricks website.
Non-Academic and Student Events and Activities
- In general, indoor events or activities are limited to no more than 50 people or the capacity of the room, whichever is less.
- Outdoor events should be limited to a size appropriate for the space that allows for proper social distancing.
- All events should strongly encourage social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
- Food should be pre-packaged and served as “grab-and-go” as appropriate.
- Sottile Theater, Athletics and Dining Services will continue to follow their respective COVID-19 protocols and are, therefore, exempt from the above event restrictions.
Office Space and Meeting Protocol
- All offices should remain open, but in smaller offices and lobbies, it is permissible to post signage that asks people not to congregate and, within reason, to limit the number of people in a space.
- Employees are encouraged to ask visitors to wear a face mask in their office, if that makes them more comfortable.
- Virtual meetings are encouraged to continue, as appropriate.
As always, please refer to the Back on the Bricks website for the College’s latest updates on our COVID-19 procedures and protocols.
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston