BUCSAFE Update from the President
Happy New Year, Bucs. I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved break and are ready to get back to work. Ready or not, here we go!
Thanks to God’s faithfulness and your resilience, we thrived through another calendar year in a COVID-19 world. The virus may still be with us, but the Lord was with us long before this virus appeared, and He’ll be with us long after it’s gone. So we press on in His strength.
During the break the University Pandemic Task Force kept a watchful eye on the COVID front. Despite what seems to be rapidly changing guidance nationally, we have landed on what we think is the most reasonable course of action for us to keep preparing servant leaders to pursue significant lives. Thanks in advance for your continued patience as we lock arms to do what God has called all of us to do.
Since our last update, the Omicron variant made its way into our community, and we are now seeing another surge of cases in our community and our state. I can’t help but be reminded once again of the movie Jaws: “Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water,” here we go again. As an indicator of this surge, community transmission levels rose once again to HIGH in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties.
The good news is that Omicron seems to present itself as a milder variant than its older sibling Delta; however, the unvaccinated are still highly susceptible to increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
Although the severity of the Omicron variant is markedly less than Delta, this reality is countered by the number of people who will contract it and be hospitalized with milder symptoms. You can consider that the stress of hospital resources (e.g., personnel, bed availability, and equipment) is a product of the volume and severity of patients. Thus, a significant rise in patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms can tax hospital resources just as much as fewer patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. This is reflected by hospital occupation rates of 97.8% and 82.7% in Berkeley and Charleston counties, respectively.
Evidence-based research demonstrates that Omicron is highly transmissible, so here’s our plan to help keep our campus BUCSAFE (realizing that there is no single golden BB to get us there):
CSU will continue to require masks indoors, except while eating or drinking, alone in your workspace, or in your residence. ANY mask is better than no mask; however, we highly recommend wearing a fitted medical-grade disposable mask, N95 mask, or simply double masking if you must. The data demonstrate that masking was still effective during the Delta surge, and that variant is still a major player in our state. The following graphic is a cool visual that explains the effectiveness of masking.
We anticipate that some classes may have to initially postpone in-person learning due to high volumes of faculty and/or students exposed to COVID-19. CSU does not intend to offer university-wide virtual courses in place of the traditional classroom experience this spring, but the option for virtual learning exists for students and faculty who have had recent exposure and need to quarantine or isolate the first two weeks of the semester. Students who choose the remote option must have approved documentation from Dr. Laurel Glover and communicate with their professor(s) before the first day of class (Monday, January 10). All courses will be recorded during the first two weeks, and professors may choose to offer synchronous courses (both in-person and online) at their discretion. Students in isolation or quarantine will not be counted absent and will have access to class recordings during this time. The plan is for all courses to revert to normal operations starting January 24, but we will continually monitor the situation along the way. Please continue to watch for updates should the university need to adjust our sails through this surge. For further information, please read the FAQs.
The CDC reduced the number of days for quarantine and isolation from 10 to 5. If the individual is still symptomatic or not yet fever-free, their isolation period will be extended an additional five days.
Read the latest guidance in our FAQs.
Please note that on-campus residents should make a plan now to quarantine or isolate off campus as housing remains limited on campus.
Our campus saw a nice increase in Community Immunity over Christmas break from employees and students. More than half of our campus uploaded their proof of vaccination or natural immunity. Will you help us reach our 70% goal?
COVID fatigue—it’s real, and we’ve all experienced it at this point. Please continue to follow our BUCSAFE protocols for a healthier campus. Last semester, we began a BUCSAFE video series busting myths and answering questions from our campus family. Dr. Jamie Downs, the medical director in the Physician Assistant Program, shares a mythbuster regarding the survival rate of COVID-19.
Here are our numbers as of January 4, 2022:
- TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS IN ISOLATION: 25
Of these 25 students, 2 are being housed on campus, and 23 are isolating off campus. 23 are confirmed positive.
- TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS IN QUARANTINE: 9
Of these 9 students, 0 are being housed on campus, and 9 are quarantining off campus.
- TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN ISOLATION: 16 (11 confirmed positive)
- TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN QUARANTINE: 9
ISOLATION is reserved for actively symptomatic or known positive cases, and QUARANTINE is reserved for those who have been identified as a close contact of someone who is positive or who has symptoms. People in QUARANTINE are NOT ill – we are simply watching them to ensure they do not become symptomatic. LEARN MORE
Community Immunity Status
As of January 6, 2021:
- Students: 48.4%
- Faculty and Staff: 70.4%
- TOTAL: 51.8%
Our goal is to reach 70% community immunity on campus, which includes proof of vaccination and/or evidence of natural immunity among those who have recently been infected with COVID-19. Natural immunity includes those who have had a positive COVID test July 1, 2021, or later.
St. Jude’s Labs continues to offer free, on-site PCR testing in the football stadium parking lot each weekday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Test results may take 72 hours due to the high volume of tests submitted to the state lab.
Fetter Health Care, our on-campus healthcare partner, will be back in the Student Center lot every Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. starting January 12. In addition to walk-up appointments for your medical needs, Fetter offers immunizations and rapid testing with advance notice. To book vaccines, COVID tests, or to schedule an appointment off campus, call 843-466-6129.
Please continue to reach out to Dr. Laurel Glover if you’re experiencing symptoms, have been exposed to the virus, or otherwise find it necessary to pursue testing. Do NOT go to class or to work if you feel sick. Take care of yourself and others by staying home.
Event and Meeting Guidelines
In planning any event on or off campus, employees and students must submit their proposal at least two weeks prior via the Event Form. Please do not email your event to the task force. It is important to submit via the application link in order to receive a timely response.
A reminder of our guidelines:
- Visitors may not attend events at CSU, with the exception of the Office of Enrollment and outdoor sporting events.
- Lightsey Chapel’s maximum capacity increased to 750 (50% of seating) on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.
- All campus meetings are highly recommended to be conducted virtually for now. However, meetings may be conducted in person and indoors in small numbers, with masks. Food is best served and eaten outdoors.
Let’s pray that 2022 brings a swift end to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am excited for this spring semester and hope to see you at our first Sweet 16 event of 2022 (an outdoor concert) next Thursday!
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)