Southern updates COVID-19 policies for the new semester

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As the Winter 2021 semester begins on Southern’s campus, a lot of attention has been placed on current COVID-19 campus policies. Students returned to classes on Jan. 19, after a modified schedule pushed the semester start date back by a week to provide more time for students to be contained at home before returning. 

As an incentive for students and employees to get tested for the coronavirus, Southern offered $50 gift cards for use at the Village Market. The gift cards were given to those who could provide proof of a COVID-19 test or a vaccination certificate. The intent of the incentive was to better assure illness precaution on campus and keep infection rates as low as possible. 

According to Southern’s COVID-19 dashboard, cases on campus are at an all-time high, with 24 students and one faculty member infected with the coronavirus as of Jan. 25. The isolation policy has remained the same from the fall semester, but updates have been made to the 14-day quarantine policy. The official COVID-19 policies and procedures document now states: “The default quarantine period is 14 days from the time of exposure. However, COVID-19 exposures who continue to show no symptoms will be given the option to test seven to nine days from when they were exposed and if negative, shorten their quarantine period to 10 days.”

While cases in Hamilton County have decreased by 36% in the past two weeks, there is still the stress of the annual flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “A flu vaccine this season can also help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.” 

The CDC also recommended that anyone with symptoms of illness get tested for COVID-19, because many of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, and it may be hard to differentiate. In the Q and A with president David Smith, it was announced that all students, regardless of insurance, could be tested at the University Health Center.

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