SAU continues to take proactive measures to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy amidst the public health crisis facilitated by the Covid-19 virus. Actions taken by the University are based on recommendations from the Risk Management Task Force (RMTF) and University Health Services (UHS) as guided by local, state, and federal health officials, as well as the astounding research of our own scientists and medical staff.
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We encourage all members of our campus community and their eligible family members to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Our best defense against the pandemic is vaccination. Our goal is to protect our SAU family and provide a safe, healthy, learning environment for all. Please use resources provided by our own scientists who spent hours conducting research to develop the FAQs and answers for our website. Vaccinated individuals are less likely to become severely ill due to Covid-19, are capable of protecting themselves and others more effectively, and help us remain a vibrant campus community. Together, we can do more!
Campus Mask Policy
Effective October 14, 2021, facemasks are required in classrooms and labs during academic delivery. This includes any space and situation where academic content is delivered.
SAU supports members of our community who choose to continue to wear facemasks in all settings. Faculty and staff who prefer mask usage within individual office spaces will place signs outside their offices requesting mask usage. When visiting spaces in which a mask usage request sign is present, we urge guests to respect the request and comply by wearing a facemask.
Campus Housing Events and Visitors
Are residence halls allowed to host activities?
Yes! We want to provide a vibrant college experience. Residence hall directors are encouraged to host and promote safe events for our students. When gathering indoors in large groups for events, social distancing is encouraged and as always, students who feel ill should refrain from participating in activities.
Are visitors allowed in campus housing?
Yes! Policies and procedures for visitors in campus housing must be followed.
Group Meetings and Events
There is no mask requirement for general campus meetings. For meetings held face-to-face, Zoom should be offered to provide attendance options to those who are not comfortable attending in-person meetings with unmasked individuals. We encourage the continued use of Zoom for general meetings, as well as the practice of social distancing for all meetings held face-to-face.
What is the process for reserving institutional spaces for September and beyond?
Reservation requests should be submitted using the standard Facilities Request Form located here:https://web.saumag.edu/files/2018/11/Facilities-Request-Form-Updated-2018.doc. Currently, there is no requirement to submit meeting requests to the Task Force for prior approval. Event planners should be mindful of the number of attendees expected and request spaces large enough to allow for distancing among attendees. For example, if a room capacity is 25 and the expected attendance is 20, choose a larger room rather than cramming guests in such a small space.
What is the process for cancelling future events?
As we have all learned, the Covid-19 pandemic is a fluid situation. The Risk Management Task Force will continue to monitor local public health conditions and will continue to make recommendations to Administration. It is genuinely the hope of all decision- makers that our vaccination rates continue to increase, our mitigation efforts prove effective, and we are able to continue hosting events as originally scheduled during September and beyond. Should the need arise, ample time will be given to event hosts to pivot to online formats or reschedule events.
Are there any restrictions to external group reservations?
As of September 1, 2021, SAU is open for external bookings. External groups may submit requests using the standard facilities request form. Please note that in an effort to provide safe learning environments for our students, faculty, and staff, external requests for the use of academic spaces during normal business hours may be declined.
All athletic events are operating as originally scheduled. Ticketing for events is online only. Please refer to the Mulerider Athletics website for ticketing information at https://muleriderathletics.com/sports/2020/9/21/tickets.aspx. Facemasks will not be required for outdoor venues.
Will students be allowed to travel on common carrier?
Yes. Students will be allowed to travel on common carrier (bus, van, etc.) to participate in collegiate events such as off-site lab instruction, field trips, athletic competitions, band exhibitions, and the like. Seating charts should be logged and maintained for at least one week by sponsors to assist UHS with contact tracing should the need arise.
Are there currently any travel restrictions for students, faculty, or staff?
No. Currently there are no travel restrictions, such as “no travel” zones or requirements to quarantine following travel, with the exception of international travel quarantine guidelines as determined by federal health officials. The RMTF does ask campus community members to use good judgement when traveling-wear facemasks in crowded spaces, wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer, be aware of surroundings and take extra precautions when gathered among large masses of unknown vaccination status.
Isolation and Quarantine Protocols
University Health Services determines isolation and quarantine periods for campus members following Arkansas Department of Health guidelines.
What are the requirements for isolation?
Isolation is for people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 by any Covid-19 testing method. Isolation means to stay away from others, such as stay out of supermarkets and shopping malls, public transportation and parties, to protect others from contracting the virus.
Vaccinated individuals who are diagnosed with Covid-19 are required to isolate.
What is the length of isolation?
Mild to no symptoms
For those with a Covid-19 diagnosis and mild to no symptoms, isolation may end ten (10) days since the first symptom occurred or since the positive test result AND fever has been below 100.4°F for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND any symptoms are improving.
Severe illness, hospitalization, weakened immune system
For those with a Covid-19 diagnosis who became severely ill, were hospitalized, or who have weakened immune systems, isolation is required until twenty (20) days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND fever has been below 100.4°F for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND symptoms are improving. Medical personnel/primary care physicians may extend the isolation period for individuals in these categories and UHS will abide by these recommendations when advising members of the campus community.
What are the requirements for quarantine?
Individuals who are identified as close contacts of a person who is diagnosed with Covid-19 are required to quarantine. This means staying home, away from others, avoid going out in public unless is absolutely necessary, and being proactive to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Effective October 14, 2021 SAU, under the recommendation of UHS and the Risk Management Task Force, implemented a change to institutional quarantine requirements based on our own data. Since the inception of the pandemic, SAU has experienced zero classroom transmission of Covid-19. Currently, the ADH allows for masked students in the K-12 academic setting to remain out of quarantine, but no such guidelines exist for higher education. Due to our own UHS data and the retention of facemasks in the classroom, students identified as classroom close contacts will not be required by SAU to quarantine. Students will continue to be identified, notified, and given the option to quarantine or choose to remain out of quarantine and monitor health symptoms according to the new institutional guidelines. UHS and the Risk Management Task Force will continue to monitor public health conditions on our campus and have systems in place to monitor and adjust as necessary.
Most vaccinated individuals who are identified as close contacts are not required to quarantine. Based on CDC guidelines, vaccinated individuals identified as close contacts are encouraged to obtain a Covid-19 test 3-5 days after exposure due to the spread of variants. Based on our evidence, UHS is aware of breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals with extended exposure to positive cases. Therefore, in some circumstances, and based on contact tracing, UHS may require quarantine for some vaccinated individuals for a short period, followed by testing, and a return to campus upon clearance. These measures are taken as an abundance of caution to protect our entire campus community, enable a healthy environment, and minimize the spread of Covid-19.
What is the length of quarantine?
Current CDC guidelines determine quarantine may:
End 10 days
- After last contact with the positive individual
- No symptoms have occurred
- No Covid-19 test is administered
End after 7 days
- After last contact with positive individual
- No symptoms have occurred
- A Covid-19 test is administered on day 5, 6, or 7 and is negative
For any individual exposed again during quarantine, the quarantine period starts over. If a quarantined individual develops symptoms or tests positive during quarantine, isolation protocol begins and must be followed.
SAU data indicated that during the 2020-2021 academic year, conversion to positive cases of Covid-19 among quarantined individuals occurred within 3-4 days. Therefore, the RMTF and UHS support the 7-day protocol, and encourage campus community members contact UHS, utilize this option, and be tested for Covid-19.
UHS may require a send-off PCR test for any individual presenting even mild symptoms of Covid-19 when the rapid PCR or antigen test returns negative. During the waiting period for the send-off PCR results, individuals will be required to quarantine.
Are isolation or quarantine spaces provided for students on the SAU campus?
Vaccinated Students: A limited number of isolation areas are available for vaccinated students who experience a breakthrough case of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.
Non-Vaccinated Students: Non-vaccinated students are expected to quarantine/isolate off-campus. Students were notified of this policy this summer via email and were directed to select off-campus locations for quarantine/isolation and make a plan to execute should the need arise.
What resources are provided to students in isolation or quarantine?
SAU provides many resources to students in isolation or quarantine, all of which are articulated clearly to students via email upon isolation/quarantine notification. These resources include academic support, counseling and student support services, and medical support.