Written by Emma Jones
COVID-19 screening and isolation protocols have not changed much for the fall 2021 semester; however, there are a few new guidelines for vaccinated students.
The Office of Student Life is continuing the contact tracing of students exposed to COVID-19 like they did last year. The fourth floor of the Heritage Inn is currently being used to house students in isolation. Dean of Students Zach Neal said the office would also try to allow students to isolate in their own rooms if the room is conducive to do so. Meals are also still being delivered to students in quarantine in the same manner as last year.
“As far as the support from Student Life goes, most things look the same,” Neal said. “Within activities, we continue to remind individuals to make good decisions regarding social distancing and when and where you allow yourself to be in close proximity to people for extended amounts of time.”
Junior Jack Jennings was quarantined during the second week of classes after being a close contact.
“Student Life made sure I was taken care of, and everything was handled really well,” Jennings said.
Neal said Student Life is still encouraging students to wear masks, and he is not expecting a mask mandate to be put in place this semester.
“I have been meeting weekly with a representative from the Arkansas Department of Health discussing recommendations regarding masks and other COVID-19 protocols,” Neal said. “As of right now, masks are not something that we are mandating, but it could easily change depending on the needs of the community and COVID-19 numbers.”
Students are asked to complete a COVID-19 screening form on Pipeline if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Director of Student Health Services Mary Darden said testing protocols have not changed except those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for vaccinated individuals.
“Asymptomatic vaccinated individuals should test three to five days after exposure and should wear a mask in public settings until they receive a negative test result but continue to monitor for symptoms,” Darden said. “Symptomatic vaccinated individuals without exposure should be tested and wear a mask until they have a negative test result and confirm with a health care provider that they do not have COVID-19.”
Students can get tested for COVID-19 at the Student Health Office. Both the PCR and Antigen tests are offered, and Student Health follows CDC recommendations regarding which test to use in different circumstances.
“We ask that students complete a COVID-19 screening form so that we may schedule a testing appointment with them,” Darden said.
The next vaccine clinic will be held by the college of pharmacy in the Liberty Room on Sept. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and they will be providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.