Dear Columbia College community,
Our state and nation are once again seeing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, especially among unvaccinated individuals. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of the college community. As we make final preparations for the college’s return to campus this fall with full, in-person classes and activities, the COVID-19 vaccination remains the best way to keep our campus community safe. We strongly encourage everyone in the college community to get the vaccinations at the earliest possible time, unless mitigating circumstances preclude them from doing so.
We must learn to co-exist with COVID, and that means taking steps to ensure everyone is going to be safe and healthy, while coming to terms that we are not in this for the short haul. The following policies and procedures have been adopted based on recommendations from our COVID-19 Task Force, faculty committees and senior college leadership including academic deans. They also generally reflect the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and local health departments:
We will stay the course with in-person classes as long as it remains safe. The classrooms will be set to:
- Allow six feet between instructors and students;
- Provide three feet of distancing between students;
- Have air purifiers adequate for the size of each classroom.
Providing students with the best possible educational experience while being safe is very important to the college. If there is a need to transition to a virtual instruction setting, the high-flex model from last academic year will not be an option. Students will have access to advisors and their instructors for additional assistance if and when plans change.
Effective Monday, August 9, masks will be required indoors for all students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Exceptions to this mask policy include:
- When individuals are alone in a work space;
- When students are in residence hall rooms with their roommates.
- If individuals are more comfortable wearing a mask prior to August 9, they are welcome and encouraged to do so.
All residential students must complete one of the three items below prior to returning to campus. Students are strongly encouraged to reduce personal stress by choosing the first or second options:
- Upload student vaccination cards to the Student Health Portal;
- Or provide proof of a negative PCR test given within the 72 hours prior to your arrival on campus;
- Or be administered a rapid COVID test on site.
- If that test is positive, residential students will be required to isolate with the option of either being assigned to Banks Hall or returning home – if it is safe to do so – until released from isolation.
Providing vaccine information will help us know the vaccination rates on campus. The vaccination rates will inform us as we develop future safety guidelines. Individual vaccination status will only be used for contact tracing.
- Members of the college community who provide their vaccination cards or waivers will be entered into drawings for incentives.
- Fully vaccinated individuals exposed to the virus will not be asked to quarantine, so long as they are not symptomatic.
Members of the college community requesting accommodations for a documented disability or medical condition must provide ADA forms that have been completed by their medical provider. These forms should be provided to the appropriate department for consideration:
- Faculty and staff through Human Resources no later than August 15, 2021;
- Students through Student Accessibility Resources (SAR).
- Student Affairs will provide opportunities for the Main Campus community to receive the vaccine for free.
- CCG locations will follow their local and/or base safety guidelines.
- All meetings on campus will be in masks with social distancing, or via Zoom/Teams.
These are temporary measures that will be consistently monitored based on CDC and local guidelines and will be adjusted as necessary. Similar practices are being adopted by institutions nationwide. Co-existing with COVID means occasionally taking strong steps to ensure the long-term health and safety of the college community.
We greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to keep our college community safe.
Dr. David Russell