Salisbury University students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot once eligible or a university-approved exemption will lose access to campus facilities beginning Feb. 4, according to a recent Stay Informed email.
The requirement revokes SU’s previous policy allowing campus community members without a booster to maintain access to university buildings by testing twice weekly.
Students and employees who received medical or religious exemptions from the booster mandate must still test every Tuesday and Thursday during the spring semester. Spring exemption requests must be submitted by Monday.
SU is the latest University System of Maryland institution to issue a booster mandate for its campus community, joining Towson University, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and University of Maryland, College Park.
Nonexempt students must also submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots to the SU COVID-19 Vaccination Portal before classes commence, including those who previously completed the university’s COVID-19 Information Consent Form.
Contrary to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently updated recommendations shortening quarantine and isolation periods for Americans, SU’s current requirements will remain in place during the spring semester, according to the university’s Students and Employees Quarantine and Isolation guide.
SU will continue mandating an off-campus isolation period of 10 days for anyone who contracts COVID-19. Those who are exposed and not fully vaccinated will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Fully vaccinated individuals must receive a coronavirus test three to five days following an exposure but will not be required to quarantine.
The CDC cut the recommended isolation period for those with COVID-19 in half to five days, followed by five days of mask wearing. Unvaccinated Americans exposed to the virus are advised to comply with those same guidelines, a difference of nine fewer days in quarantine than SU’s requirement.
Students, faculty and staff must receive a COVID-19 test on their first day returning to campus, which may be scheduled here.
SU has tightened its face mask mandate for the spring semester, with campus community members now required to wear KN95 face masks inside all classrooms and instructional settings despite previous indications of a potential relaxation of the policy prior to winter break.
Face masks will continue to be required inside all university facilities, with KN95 masks “strongly encouraged at all times,” according the to the email.
Free KN95 masks are available for SU students, faculty and staff to pick up in the Great Hall of Holloway Hall every weekday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
University members will be limited to 10 free KN95 masks per person, with each intended to be “reusable for an extended period of time,” according to SU’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources.
The university’s winter term proceeded with in-person instruction as originally scheduled, though some courses have been moved to larger classrooms to “allow for more physical distancing,” per the email.
With the omicron variant now raising the national COVID-19 case rate to its highest peak since the start of the pandemic, other colleges across the country have already begun implementing contingency plans to combat expected surges in the coming months.
Along with a barrage of universities nationwide that moved final exams online to end 2021, Pennsylvania State University has advised its campus community the institution may need to “alter plans” if the spring semester must begin remotely due to rising case rates.
Several institutions with early January semester start dates opted to move in-person instruction to remote learning for at least the first two weeks of spring classes, including Columbia University and Temple University. Others have delayed students’ return to campus by as much as a week to fight potential winter surges in COVID-19 cases.
SU Chief of Staff Eli Modlin previously said there was “no expectation” of a move to fully virtual instruction in the spring during President Charles Wight’s COVID-19 briefing Dec. 9.
The university is expected to begin the spring semester with fully in-person operations Jan. 31.
For more information on SU’s vaccination protocols or to view the latest university COVID-19 test results, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Public Relations Office.