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COVID-19 Information

To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Provost Matt Cecil
Date:  01/13/2022
Subject: COVID-19 Campus Update: January 13th, 2022

Good morning,
We continue to see a major surge in COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant with case counts in the 200 cases per 100,000 per day range. As everyone knows, we delayed the start of classes for a week and have asked faculty and staff to rethink activities during the coming two weeks with a goal of limiting in-person activities until the wave has passed.
I have a few updates and reminders to share today:
Masking: We are asking that people upgrade their masks. There have been questions about the university providing N95 or KN95 respirators. The problem with that is if we provide those to employees, OSHA regulations say employers must provide an individual fitting to assure the respirator fits properly. If OSHA guidelines are relaxed, we will provide respirators. In the meantime, anyone can obtain their own personal N95 or KN95 masks. In addition, public health experts tell us that a surgical mask combined with a good-quality, cloth mask provides nearly the same protection. Surgical masks are available upon request.
Vaccination and Testing: Vaccinations and boosters are available through Health, Counseling and Student Wellness. Call (859) 572-5650 to schedule an appointment. We do encourage employees to consider other options for their vaccinations or boosters, however, since the campus health services are particularly busy handling student needs. We will reopen COVID-19 testing on campus next week with details forthcoming.
Isolation/Quarantine: The CDC has changed their guidelines regarding how long people should isolate (if you tested positive) or quarantine (if you were exposed), given the latest data regarding when folks are contagious with the Omicron variant and the fact that so many people testing positive have few to no symptoms (and are hence much less likely to be contagious). If you test positive and have no or few symptoms, the recommendation is to stay isolated from others for five days. If you do not develop symptoms, then you can leave your home on Day Six, but you must wear a well-fitting mask for the next five days. These same guidelines are in effect if you have symptoms, but they are resolving (and have no fever) within the five-day time frame.
If you have been exposed to COVID, and if you are vaccinated and boosted or if you have had COVID within the last 90 days, then you do not need to quarantine at all. If you were exposed but you do not fit the criteria above, then you need to quarantine for five days and monitor for symptoms. If you do not develop symptoms, you can leave your home after five days, but you must wear a mask around others for the next five days. If you do develop symptoms, you need to isolate, get tested and follow the isolation instructions above.
With a fast-moving virus like Omicron, though, the simplest advice is that if you do not feel well, please do not come to campus and avoid contact with others.
The COVID-19 Preparedness Team continues to meet weekly to consider the latest data. As of now, we have sufficient resources to continue to manage the pandemic on our campus and so our COVID status is “red.” Each variant has its unique character and thus impacts the campus differently. Of particular interest to us during this Omicron wave are on-campus quarantine capacity and regional hospital capacity. We will monitor that data closely over the coming two weeks and adapt our response accordingly.
We hope to be back to something like fall mode by early February, but that will be dictated by the data we are seeing in the region. Thanks everyone for your patience and your extra work preparing for a hybrid start to the semester.

Matt Cecil
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Northern Kentucky University