To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Provost Matt Cecil
Subject: COVID-19 Campus Update - September 16, 2021
Dear Campus Community,
Good morning. A review of the data for our region shows that we are experiencing a plateau in the Delta variant surge. The rate of transmission (Rt) has dipped below 1.0, which is a good sign if it holds. Our region case levels remain well below the Kentucky state average and appear to be dropping. Given that the data appears to be trending in a good direction, we are maintaining our “red” COVID status for this week and are not proposing any new local mitigations.
Obviously, our indoor mask requirement and strong recommendation for outdoor mask usage remain in place. Masks are required indoors on campus for all persons, vaccinated and unvaccinated. We are recommending mask usage outdoors, particularly when you are in close contact with others. It is also important that, whether on or off campus, we all try to avoid situations where others are not taking appropriate precautions.
We have had questions about when we would move to virtual instruction. We are not considering that as an option at this time. Our goal is to put the right precautions in place so we can maintain our ability as a campus community to manage the situation. At this time, we are managing relatively well. Though no doubt underreported, our case counts have not taxed our campus infrastructure. We have plenty of quarantine capacity remaining. There are a great many additional, incremental mitigation steps short of virtual instruction that we can take if the data suggests that those steps will help keep things going in person. With an Rt of less than 1.0, required indoor masking, recommended outdoor masking, and strongly encouraging vaccines are enough to manage the situation right now.
In Kentucky, the only way we can know if someone has received a positive COVID-19 test is if they self-report it to us online. We encourage anyone who has received a positive PCR test for COVID to self-report online. Faculty and staff are telling us they believe that some people are choosing not to self-report. We believe that is true. However, keep in mind that students or others reporting that they are going to be absent from class may not have received a positive test result. They could be awaiting a result. They may have had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID or may have another reason for quarantining. Keep in mind that our region has somewhat higher vaccination rates and significantly lower case numbers in general than the rest of the state. We do have an on-campus testing site, open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Landrum Hall 330. I am told the test results are coming back as quickly as within 12 hours.
Vaccination is safe and effective, and we strongly encourage anyone who can to get vaccinated. We have vaccinations available on campus by making an appointment with NKU’s Health Services (859-572-5650). Walk-in vaccinations are available on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Student Union room 324. We continue to request that vaccinated members of the campus community report their status online. To date, only about 36 percent of our campus community has reported their positive vaccine status. We are certain the percentage is higher than that, but we need individuals to report so we have reliable data. We will roll out a new vaccine incentive plan on Monday to encourage reporting.
The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are very similar and hard to distinguish. We encourage everyone to get both vaccines to avoid getting very sick this flu season. Health Services also now has influenza vaccines available by appointment. NKU is also holding a flu vaccine clinic on Oct. 7 in the University Center Ballroom. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.
Again, I am proud of the way our campus community has handled this crisis so far. While we have heard reports of masking violations, the vast majority of students, faculty, and staff are taking the pandemic seriously and masking up. Everyone remains committed to our students’ success, delivering courses and support services to help our students continue to progress toward their goals. We monitor the data daily, watching for signs that we will need to add new mitigation to limit the spread of the Delta variant. While we are seeing some early encouraging signs about the situation, we know it can all change in an instant. I hope everyone will continue to be vigilant and care for one another as we navigate this stage of the pandemic.
Thank you all for everything you do to make NKU such a special place.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Northern Kentucky University