BUCSAFE Update from the President
After careful review of recent guidance from the CDC, the consistent drop in COVID-19 cases on campus, reduced transmission levels in the Charleston area, our Community Immunity percentage, and vaccine accessibility, the University Pandemic Task Force has recommended we ease some BUCSAFE protocols. Beginning Tuesday, March 1, Charleston Southern University will shift to a mask-optional policy. This means face coverings will no longer be required in indoor facilities on campus.
COVID is still with us. We’re very aware of that fact. Transmission rates in our area have not yet reached low levels, but they have reached levels that square with CDC guidance to make this change. That said, the task force remains diligent in monitoring local conditions, following CDC guidance, and adhering to the milestones we have set to remain BUCSAFE. We trust you to do the same. Should levels rise significantly and public health guidance change appreciably, we will pivot as necessary to accomplish our mission and mind the health of our campus and our community.
As we continue to adjust to the pandemic’s impact, please keep in mind the heart of the BUCSAFE pledge: responsibility, flexibility, and understanding. One way you can do this is to show respect to those who still choose to wear a mask. If an employee, student, or guest asks for you to mask in their individual office, meeting space, or room, please be gracious in honoring that request or make alternate arrangements such as a Zoom meeting. As a courtesy to the health concerns of others, we still highly encourage physical distancing in the classroom and other indoor communal spaces around campus. We also will not be removing the plexiglass in our classrooms at this time. And as much as I would like for us to let ‘em burn, don’t burn those masks just yet. We’ll get there, but at this point you just never know.
Students and employees who are symptomatic, are exposed, or test positive for COVID, should continue to report on the LiveSafe app or reach out to Dr. Laurel Glover. Limited rooms will remain available for quarantine and isolation for the remainder of the semester.
Last week, we shared updated event guidelines that no longer require proposals for events that abide within set room capacities, limit outside guests, or do not involve live music. Organizers wishing to host events which require an exception to capacity limitations, involve more than five guests, or incorporate live music must still submit an event request form at this time. Review the updated FULL event guidelines here.
SCDHEC will shift its testing strategy on March 1. Due to the availability and accuracy of at-home tests, the agency will gradually decrease drive-thru testing sites. For now, MAKO Medical continues to offer free, on-site PCR testing in the football stadium parking lot each weekday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Should that change, we will alert the campus accordingly.
SCDHEC will also stop reporting daily COVID case counts beginning March 15. However, the agency will continue to report COVID hospitalizations and deaths, ICU bed availability, and hospital utilization rates. The University Pandemic Task Force will use that data as indicators of the impact of severity in the Charleston area as well. These metrics will also serve as reminders that COVID is still with us.
These changes bring us one step closer to a post-pandemic world. Praise the Lord! I am profoundly grateful for God’s faithfulness the last two years, how helpful and hardworking our pandemic task force has been 24/7 (you have no idea!), the effectiveness of our BUCSAFE and other protocols, and your collective diligence in reaching the 70% Community Immunity goal based on evidence of vaccination/test uploads and the number of positive cases on campus. The pandemic is not yet over, so we will continue to trust the Lord and thank Him for all who have made it possible to get here. We have come this far by faith, and that’s exactly how we’ll make it the rest of the way.
Keep doing what you’re doing – for the good of others and the glory of God!