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Fall 2021 Campus Operations

Last year, Ouachita implemented many protocols to encourage its students, faculty and staff to “Take Care, Tigers.” Thanks to our community’s collective work and commitment and the integration of health insights and common sense, we were able to continue in-person classes all year. Many of the capacities to manage with COVID-19 on campus last year will again be available in a limited way, including on-campus testing and initial contact tracing. Quarantine and isolation procedures have been adjusted to reflect CDC guidance. In this year’s improved COVID-19 environment, including widespread access to vaccines, we look forward to fewer mandated restrictions while maintaining our community’s commitment to mutual respect and care.

Masks: For the first month of the academic year, masks are required in some indoor spaces and optional in others. We’ll continually assess the situation and give an update no later than September 24, a month after the first day of class. Athletic teams will be guided by NCAA and conference protocols.

Required:

    • Classrooms, laboratories and indoor public spaces (e.g., hallways, auditoriums, etc.).
    • Where we eat – Ouachita Commons and Evans Student Center – masks are required any time you are not actively eating. Wear a mask when in line, visiting with friends, studying, etc.
    • Chapel: We’re planning for in-person Chapel, limited to approximately 50% capacity in JPAC. Students will alternate attending in person one week and the following week completing Chapel online. More details to come.

Optional:

    • Where students live – residence halls and apartments.
    • Meetings – where six-foot distancing can be achieved. (Masks are not required in private offices, but should be worn when six-foot distancing cannot be achieved.)
    • Masks are not required outside.

Physical Distancing: Classrooms, arts events and athletics events will return to pre-pandemic capacities. Individuals who are not vaccinated are encouraged to maintain at least three feet of distance from others as much as possible.

Sanitation: Hand sanitizers and water bottle-filling stations are located throughout campus and ventilation systems continue to benefit from the improvements made in 2020. Portable HEPA/UV filters also are still available throughout campus common spaces. Individuals are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.

Feeling Sick? Students, faculty and staff should each continue to monitor their own health for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Those who are experiencing symptoms should use the CDC self-check screening or check with their doctor before returning to class or work. Masks are encouraged if you are experiencing cold symptoms or other respiratory issues.

COVID-19 Testing: COVID-19 testing is available in the Office of Health Services on request. Testing is recommended for those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Unvaccinated student-athletes will be tested regularly according to current Great American Conference and NCAA protocols. Please call ahead to make an appointment: 870-245-5244.

COVID-19 Vaccines:

  • A vaccine is not required to attend or work for Ouachita, but they are strongly encouraged to strengthen the safety of our campus community.
  • Ouachita is offering a $400 grant for students enrolled on Ouachita’s residential campus for the fall 2021 semester and a $400 bonus for benefits-eligible employees who are working on Ouachita’s residential campus during September 2021. Learn more about the vaccine incentive program here.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are not available on campus but are widely available in the community. See vaccines.gov or the Arkansas Department of Health website to find a vaccination location.

Contact Tracing: Ouachita’s Office of Health Services with the athletic training staff will conduct initial contact tracing to enforce quarantine and isolation procedures for on-campus students. However, daily check-ins will be the responsibility of the Arkansas Department of Health. Ouachita’s Office of Health Services will validate absences from class. (See more about continued connection during isolation/quarantine below.)

Quarantine and Isolation Procedures:

  • Quarantine: Those with known exposure to the virus are required to quarantine with the following exceptions:
    • Fully vaccinated individuals who are not experiencing symptoms are not required to quarantine as long as they do not experience symptoms, wear a mask for at least 14 days since exposure and receive a negative test on day 7. Proof of vaccination from your state’s Department of Health is required.
    • Individuals who have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days are not required to quarantine. Proof of a positive COVID-19 test is required.
  • Quarantine may be complete following a negative COVID-19 test from day 5-7 since exposure for individuals not experiencing symptoms. You may return to class or work on day 8 following the negative test. Tests must be submitted to the Office of Health Services. Free tests are available at Ouachita’s Office of Health Services.
  • Isolation: Those who test positive for the virus are required to isolate off campus for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
  • Quarantine and isolation must be completed off campus. On-campus housing will not be available. All students must have their own off-campus quarantine and isolation plan before arriving to campus. Assistance is available for students who live far from home or who have extenuating circumstances (see more below). Exception: Students living in Ouachita apartments may quarantine there if the roommate is fully vaccinated and agrees for them to stay. 
  • No room and board credit or work study credit will be issued for quarantined or isolated students; employees must use their accrued sick time or vacation time.
  • Confirmation from Ouachita’s Office of Health Services is required for students to return to class. A letter of release from Ouachita’s Office of Health Services, the Department of Health or your primary care physician is required for employees to return to work.
  • Zoom will not be a standard option for every class. Students in quarantine or isolation will have to work with their instructors on the best way to make up for missed classes according to their situation. (See more below on keeping up with classwork.)
  • Continued Connection: While health-related contact tracing is the responsibility of the Arkansas Department of Health this year, Ouachita staff members also will check in with students throughout their absence for additional support. We realize it can be a trying and stressful time to be physically separated from the Ouachita community and intend to continue to connect virtually; students also are encouraged to contact and encourage their classmates who are off campus.

Quarantine/Isolation Accommodation Assistance: While we encourage students to isolate or quarantine at home, we recognize that students who live far from home or who have extenuating circumstances will need additional help with a place to stay off-campus. Ouachita will provide emergency grants on a limited basis to help cover the costs for arrangements at a local hotel or other venue. Ouachita also will arrange for meal deliveries from Sodexo for students staying in a local hotel.

Keeping up with Classwork: Zoom is still an option for classes for students who are in isolation or quarantine; it’s simply not the mandatory solution for every class. Ouachita faculty have always been known for going the extra mile to help students catch up when they had to miss classes due to illness or other circumstances beyond their control. They will continue to work with students who have to miss class due to quarantine or isolation. Professors have a variety of tools for accomplishing this. Though Zoom is one option, we learned last year that it is not always the best way to keep students engaged. Professors will determine the solution that works best for them and their students, whether providing a Zoom link, sharing access to recorded class sessions, posting notes and assignments on Moodle, or other personalized approaches. Students are encouraged to be proactive in communicating with their professors when they have to miss class.

Campus Guests: Guests are welcome to campus and are expected to follow the university’s current mask and distancing guidelines listed above. Please do not visit campus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Future restrictions: Restricted events and other adjustments to protocols are possible if cases rise on campus throughout the semester.

 

PAGE LAST UPDATED SEPTEMBER 3, 2021

 

Questions?

If you have a question or concern that isn’t addressed above, complete the following form to submit it for consideration. With many plans in process, it’s possible that it is already being evaluated but details have not yet been released. Keep checking this page for additional updates. Form submissions may not each receive individual responses.

 

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