eNews: Updated Fall COVID-19 protocols
Baylor Faculty, Staff, Students and Parents:
The spread of COVID-19 has grown significantly across the country, and our state and local community are not immune as case counts continue to increase and healthcare services are stretched to capacity. These grim facts have prompted our President’s Council and Health Management Team to update our COVID-related protocols for the fall semester beginning Aug. 23.
While personal responsibility is certainly important to us at Baylor, we are implementing these campus-wide health measures so that we can safely have a full Baylor experience this fall, which includes in-person classes, full student activities and traditions, and 100% capacity at academic and athletics events.
Please pay close attention to the following updated interim COVID protocols:
- Vaccinations. The CDC has reported since the spring that the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA are safe and highly effective in reducing the spread of the virus and in decreasing the possibility of serious illness and hospitalization. Baylor’s medical team continues to strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible. More information about COVID vaccines – including how to report your vaccination status or to make an appointment at the Baylor Health Center – is available at www.baylor.edu/vaccine. We offer all three vaccines to students, as well as faculty and staff, their spouses and dependents.
- Testing. If you are unvaccinated or don’t have an exemption due to a positive test within the past 180 days, we will increase the frequency of mandatory testing to twice weekly through at least the first four weeks of the semester. This decision impacts unvaccinated students, faculty and staff, and is critical as our models project a significant spike in COVID cases on our campus during the first two weeks of the semester. We must have the necessary capabilities to identify and respond to any potential outbreaks. The consequences of non-compliance are outlined in our interim COVID policies.
- Face Coverings. In certain indoor settings, face coverings will now be required on a temporary basis. This includes the requirement that face coverings be worn by all students, faculty and staff in all classrooms and labs when used for academic instruction, in addition to some indoor locations where appropriate social distancing may not be possible, private faculty and staff offices when requested, and other areas designated by posted signage. Outside of these required areas for wearing a face covering, students, faculty and staff can choose to wear a face covering in other indoor or outdoor settings based on their individual health and safety needs. We ask that you please keep a facemask with you at all times and respect others who might have personal or family health considerations. Also, masks should cover your nose and mouth, as they are not effective on chins only. Failure to comply with wearing face coverings within these specific settings will result in referral to the Student Conduct office or the respective faculty or staff disciplinary process.
- Have a Plan. Every student is required to have a plan in the event they might be required to isolate or quarantine due to a COVID exposure or positive test. With the large freshman class and the scarce availability of housing and hotel rooms in the Waco area, the University’s ability to provide isolation and quarantine housing for students will be severely limited. Availability will be prioritized for emergency use and for those students whose permanent residence is out of state or a significant distance from Waco. More information about quarantine and isolation procedures can be found in our interim COVID policies.
Please note that our COVID plans are subject to change in the event local conditions either improve or deteriorate through the first month of the fall semester. Also, we will communicate directly via email with unvaccinated students, faculty and staff regarding their twice weekly testing responsibilities. Additional COVID-related information can be found at www.baylor.edu/coronavirus. The Baylor Information Call Center can be reached at 888-283-2158 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, as well as over Move In Weekend: Saturday, Aug. 14, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CT and Sunday, Aug. 15, from 1-5 p.m. CT.***
Thank you in advance for your adherence to these important COVID protocols as we keep not only our campus healthy, but our local community as well.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
*** The Baylor Information Call Center also will be open Saturday, Aug. 14, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 15, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.