To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Provost Matt Cecil
Subject: COVID-19 Campus Update: December 10, 2021
Welcome back and happy new year, everyone. Unfortunately, we are returning to another COVID surge. Omicron cases counts are extremely high, and we are seeing pressure on our hospitals again. As you all know, we have pushed back the start of classes at NKU for one week, allowing faculty and staff the time to adapt their courses and programming for two weeks of hybrid and other approaches, limiting the number of people on campus until the worst of the Omicron wave passes.
Based on conversations with our COVID Preparedness team yesterday, there are a few key things to emphasize.
Masking: It is important that everyone up their mask game for this variant. Ideally, a personal N95 or KN95 is the strongest protection, but public health experts also recommend a disposable surgical mask combined with a cloth mask as offering similar protection. We have surgical masks available for anyone who needs some, and we have ordered more.
Isolation and quarantine: There are new CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine under Omicron, but I think the most important thing is– if you feel even mildly ill, stay home, whether you have a positive test or not. Omicron for many presents like a common cold or flu with symptoms like a stuffed-up nose, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. You can keep others safe by simply staying home if you feel ill.
Rec Center and Dining: We have made temporary changes in both of these areas. The Rec Center is closed this week, and we will continue to evaluate its hours. We have seen too many instances of people not following our mask mandate in the Rec Center, and with Omicron that is a particularly worrisome issue. Starting next week, we will be temporarily moving to grab-and-go dining on campus as well in an effort to keep everyone safe.
Vaccines/Boosters: Vaccines and boosters are safe and effective. With Omicron, boosted individuals are far less likely to experience any serious symptoms if infected because of the head start their immune system has on fighting the virus. If you are interested in getting a vaccine or booster, please call Health, Counseling and Student Wellness at 859-572-5650 or go to their website at https://inside.nku.edu/hcsw.html.
Testing: The state has testing centers available in nearby communities, and we are working with partners to bring our testing provider back to campus. More information on that soon.
Remember that masks are required in all indoor spaces on campus. And please stay safe and avoid situations where others are not being safe. Experts tell us the Omicron wave, because this variant is so infectious, should pass quickly. By early February, we hope to be able to move back to a more “normal” semester that looks similar to the fall. We continue to monitor the situation and in collaboration with the COVID Preparedness Team, we will adapt to whatever the data is telling us.
As we navigate this latest surge, I would ask that everyone be kind to one another. The effects of all of the stress related to COVID are cumulative and don’t reset at the start of another semester. This is difficult and the strain wears on everyone. Let’s be problem-solvers and help each other through this.
I appreciate everyone’s hard work and patience as we navigate this latest COVID surge.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Northern Kentucky University