COVID-19 Update: 1/14/21

The latest update from the COVID-19 Task Force

The Oglethorpe campus is expected to operate in the orange phase of the campus protection guide during the upcoming spring semester. Campus will be open to on-campus residents, commuter students attending classes on campus, and authorized personnel. Campus will remain closed to students taking fully remote classes and university personnel who are able to perform their duties remotely.

Those on campus will be required to abide by the policies and protocols set forth in the soon to be published COVID-19 Handbook, which is being updated for Spring 2021. Face coverings will continue to be required in all shared public spaces on campus. Some additional expectations and policies are outlined in this latest update, and further details will follow as we approach the start of the semester. 

On-campus residents

Move-in for those living on campus this spring is February 7, 2021. To prepare for move-in, residents must observe the “Petrel Pause” from January 25 – February 22. During this time, you should refrain from participating in social gatherings and other high-risk activities, and strictly limit yourself to essential travel. This period accounts for the two weeks prior to the semester and the first two weeks of the semester. This period of enhanced social distancing is critical in reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19 among the campus community, as the beginning of the semester will be the highest risk period for uncontained spread. Petrel Pods will be introduced to allow students to expand their social circle once the Petrel Pause is lifted.

Residents will also be tested for COVID-19 once they arrive on campus and will continue to be tested on a reoccurring basis. If a student receives a positive test, they will be isolated for a 10-day period, per CDC recommendations. If a student is identified as a close contact through contact tracing, they will be quarantined for 14 days from the time of exposure. Further details on testing procedures will be shared ahead of the semester.

Residents are expected to have received a flu vaccination prior to arriving on campus. Residents will also be required to participate in a daily self-health screening through the LifeguardRx mobile app. Details on LifeguardRx can be found below. 

Commuter students

Commuter students returning to campus will be expected to observe the “Petrel Pause” from January 25 – February 22. During this time, you should refrain from participating in social gatherings and other high-risk activities, and strictly limit yourself to essential travel. This period accounts for the two weeks prior to the semester and the first two weeks of the semester. This period of enhanced social distancing is critical in reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19 among the campus community, as the beginning of the semester will be the highest risk period for uncontained spread.

Commuter students attending classes on campus will be tested for COVID-19 prior to attending their first class and will be tested on a reoccurring basis. If an individual receives a positive COVID-19 test, they will be expected to isolate for a 10-day period, per CDC recommendations. If an individual is identified as a close contact through contact tracing, they will need to quarantine for 14 days from the time of exposure. Further details on testing procedures will be shared ahead of the semester.

Commuter students are also expected to have received a flu vaccination prior to returning to campus, and will also be required to participate in a daily self-health screening through the LifeguardRx mobile app. Details on LifeguardRx can be found below.

Remote students

Campus will remain closed to students who are taking fully remote classes, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Faculty and staff

Faculty and staff who are able to perform their duties remotely should continue to do so, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Campus will only be open to those whose duties require access to campus. Faculty and staff authorized to work on campus are expected to update their Petrel Pass prior to the beginning of the semester. For questions regarding your Petrel Pass, please email petrelpass@oglethorpe.edu.

Faculty and staff returning to campus will be expected to observe the “Petrel Pause” from January 25 – February 22. During this time, you should refrain from participating in social gatherings and other high-risk activities, and strictly limit yourself to essential travel. This period accounts for the two weeks prior to the semester and the first two weeks of the semester. This period of enhanced social distancing is critical in reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19 among the campus community, as the beginning of the semester will be the highest risk period for uncontained spread.

Faculty and staff working on campus will be tested for COVID-19 upon arriving to campus and will be tested on a reoccurring basis. If an individual receives a positive COVID-19 test, they will be expected to isolate for a 10-day period, per CDC recommendations. If an individual is identified as a close contact through contact tracing, they will need to quarantine for 14 days from the time of exposure. Further details on testing procedures will be shared ahead of the semester.

Faculty and staff will also be expected have received a flu vaccination prior to returning to campus and be required to participate in a daily self-health screening through the LifeguardRx mobile app. Details on LifeguardRx can be found below.

Visitors

Campus will remain closed to outside visitors unless approved by administration.

Athletics

Southern Athletic Association competition will resume this semester, with some athletes already beginning preparations for their respective seasons on campus. Athletes are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly, and up to three times per week for some sports. The SAA recently announced its fan policy, which will be limited to students, faculty and staff members that are part of an SAA institution’s on-campus community. These members of the campus community must be subject to all of their institution’s COVID-19 protocols including, but not limited to, regular testing. At this current time, no outside fans, parents or spectators will be allowed at any SAA competition. View the latest update from the SAA.

Wastewater testing

In addition to the baseline COVID-19 testing and reoccurring testing of the campus population, Oglethorpe will be implementing regular wastewater testing. This will help detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus in residence halls, which will help determine a need for more targeted testing. 

LifeguardRx mobile app

During the fall semester, Oglethorpe University established a COVID-19 screening program using the LifeguardRx mobile app. Campus residents were required to complete daily self-health screenings to track COVID-19 symptoms via the app. This requirement will continue for residents, and expand to commuter students taking classes on campus this spring. Faculty and staff regularly conducting business on campus will also be required to participate.

The information collected is maintained in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects records from disclosure. The app will notify individuals of further actions they need to take based on symptoms reported. Additionally, users can add a Circle of Care in the app so that parents, spouses, relatives and/or other close acquaintances can be updated on how they are feeling. 

Details on registering and enrolling in the LifeguardRx screening program will be shared ahead of the spring semester.

Flu vaccinations

As mentioned in previous updates, all members of the Oglethorpe community who plan to be on campus this spring will need to get a flu vaccine as part of the Petrel Pledge initiative. All residents, commuter students and any faculty and staff on campus will need a flu vaccination by the start of classes on February 8, 2021. Those who need religious and/or medical exemptions, or those taking classes or working remotely and will not be accessing campus for the entire spring 2021 academic semester, are exempt.

Maintaining routine vaccinations can help prevent illnesses, reduce the stress on the healthcare system, and protect at-risk populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail pharmacies such as Publix, Costco, CVS, Walgreens, Target, Kroger, and Walmart offer flu shots at no cost with most insurance types.