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SLU COVID-19 Safeguards: Frequently Asked Questions

Saint Louis University is implementing public health safeguards to minimize further spread of COVID-19 and help protect our students, colleagues, friends and neighbors. The answers to the frequently asked questions below about COVID-19 safeguards at SLU are based on the best information available to us at this time and may change. 

Topics Covered in This FAQ Section

For FAQ about SLU's COVID-19 vaccination requirement, visit slu.edu/back-to-slu/vaccine.php

Campus Status

Will SLU require the COVID-19 vaccine? 
Announced June 8, SLU will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

  • We will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, staff, and faculty who are physically present on our St. Louis campuses.
  • Vaccinations also will be required of SLU St. Louis students who will be studying outside the U.S., including on our Madrid campus.
  • We will grant exemptions on the grounds of religious beliefs or medical circumstances. 
All students should expect that they will need to be fully vaccinated prior to their return to campus in August. Faculty and staff who teach, research, or work on campus will also be required to be fully vaccinated. 

How will summer 2021 classes be delivered?
Summer course protocols will mirror those used for spring 2021. In-person courses, with the exception of labs, must accommodate students wishing to take the course but unable to attend in person. 
What does SLU expect fall 2021 to look like?

Saint Louis University plans to offer in-person classes and operate campus as normally as possible next fall.

How many students were in-person for the spring 2021 semester?

According to SLU's Office of Institutional Research, fewer than one half of one percent of first-time freshmen and less than 3% of undergraduate students were taking courses exclusively online in spring 2021. 

Development of Safety Measures and Safeguards

What kinds of safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

In addition to the vaccine requirement:

  • Increased frequency of cleaning with EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectant in spaces across campus, including all common areas, community bathrooms, elevators and other high-touch points in residence halls
  • Touchless, wall-mounted hand-sanitizer stations throughout campus, including the entrances of all residence halls
  • Acrylic screens at reception desks, service counters and other areas where prolonged close interaction takes place and social distancing is difficult to maintain
  • Small bottles of hand sanitizer and EPA-approved disinfectant distributed to departments upon request
  • Foot-operated door openers in high-traffic restrooms 
  • Drinking fountains limited to water bottle refills only
  • Fresh air intake increased in buildings where possible
  • Educational signage promoting best practices
  • Distribution of protective equipment to faculty, staff and students, including two reusable face coverings and a thermometer
What factors and data do SLU leaders use to inform the decision to allow face-to-face vs online instruction?

Making an informed decision during a pandemic when details change daily is highly nuanced, and relies on multiple factors and guidance from public health and infectious disease experts.

University leaders and our public health experts consult daily to discuss changes within our campus and the greater St. Louis community and use all of this to inform any changes to our COVID-19 planning. Our discussions are driven by our values and a deep intent to keep our community as safe as possible.

The factors that would lead us to pivot to all-online instruction, as we did in spring 2020, are also nuanced. For example, if the city or state – after assessing hospitalization, infection and demographic data – announced restrictions on class sizes or room capacities, that could make the current plan impractical.

Campus-specific data will also be evaluated regularly and help inform our decision about pivoting to online education. Some examples include the number of COVID-19 positive students on campus, test positivity rate, ability to safely house confirmed and suspected COVID-19 students as well as those who need to be quarantined, and student compliance with protective measures.

What measures is SLU taking to detect a potential outbreak of COVID-19?

Reports received by Student Health and Employee Health are helpful in detecting potential outbreaks early. Therefore, students and employees are encouraged to contact Student Health and Employee Health, respectively, to report symptoms promptly after onset. Information reported to the app also goes to Student Health and Employee Health.

We have also implemented an internal contact tracing team to quickly conduct contact tracing on all COVID-19 positive students and have all close contacts go into quarantine for 14 days. 

What is the Campus Commitment?

All students, faculty and staff are required to complete SLU's Campus Commitment outlining expectations for returning to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Find it here or learn more. 


COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring and Testing 

Does the University require students, faculty and staff to conduct daily symptom checking? How is SLU protecting individuals’ private information?
SLU will not require the regular use of the #CampusClear symptom check app this fall, including for entry into Pius Library and the Simon Recreation Center, starting Aug. 18. However, we may utilize #CampusClear for large indoor events that involve non-SLU community members. Learn More
Is SLU requiring students to be tested for COVID-19? 

SLU will require asymptomatic testing at move-in only for those students living on campus who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Residential students with University-approved exemptions will need to be tested before move-in. We also will offer optional testing for students living off campus who haven’t been vaccinated and are seeking peace of mind.  

Students who are fully vaccinated will not be tested at move-in.  

Will you expand testing protocols for COVID-19 to faculty and staff? 

At this time, there are no plans to test Saint Louis University faculty and staff members who are not symptomatic and who have not been exposed to COVID-19. Faculty and staff members who believe they have been exposed to the virus should contact Employee Health. 

If I am told I am a close contact of someone infected with COVID-19, can I get tested and skip quarantine if the results are negative?

No. Quarantine is based on a known exposure and happens regardless of test results. If someone has a known exposure to someone with COVID-19, they will need to be in quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they are tested and regardless of the  test results.

Does the University have an on-campus testing facility? 

Both Employee Health and Student Health offer testing by appointment. Individuals can and should call ahead to discuss their needs. Please note that Employee Health and the Student Health Center may refer you to another testing site, if it’s deemed appropriate.

The Office of Employee Health can be reached by telephone Monday through Friday at 314-257-8400 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also contact Employee Health any time via email at employeehealth@slu.edu.

The Student Health Center  can be reached at 314-977-2323 or  shc@slu.edu.

Can an employee’s family members be tested through Employee Health?

Employee family members who are covered under the University’s health care plan, and who receive a referral for testing from their health care provider, can go to any University health care approved testing facility and be tested at no cost to the employee.

How much does COVID-19 testing cost for a student or employee?

It depends on whether you are getting tested on or off campus. Employees who are symptomatic or have been referred for testing can get tested at Employee Health. There is no charge for this test. 

Similarly, if an employee who is covered on the University’s health care plan is symptomatic and received a referral from their health care provider, the test is covered at 100% by the University’s health care plan. 

 

Positive Cases of COVID-19 in the SLU Community

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, will they be isolated or quarantined on campus? Where and for how long? Will their roommate(s) also have to quarantine?

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to someone who has COVID-19, they will consult with the Student Health Center and the Health Department to discuss their living arrangements to ensure they can isolate appropriately. (As a reminder: Isolation is what happens when someone has symptoms of or tests positive for COVID-19. Quarantine is what individuals must do if they have been exposed to a close contact who has tested positive for COVID-19.) On-campus housing is available for students who live on campus and need to isolate or quarantine. Going home is also an option, for those students who are able to do so.

While a student is isolating (or is in quarantine), our Student Health Center team will coordinate their care, checking on them regularly and making sure meals are delivered. They will also receive outreach from other support offices as needed. The student will be expected to stay in isolation or quarantine housing until the Student Health Center clears them to leave.

Roommates or suitemates of a student who tests positive for COVID-19 may be required to quarantine. The contact tracing process will determine whether that is the case. If so, those residential students will have on-campus options for quarantine, unless they would rather do so at home.

Students who are in isolation or in quarantine are not allowed to attend in-person classes until they are cleared to do so by the Student Health Center.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is for those who test positive for COVID-19. Once we confirm they have COVID-19, they need to stay in isolation until they are no longer contagious and a risk of infection to others. This is generally 10 days, but can be longer depending on the individual’s symptoms. 

Quarantine is for those who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is currently thought that 14 days is the incubation period for how long it may take someone to develop an infection after being exposed to COVID-19.  (Note: it is important to understand what constitutes a “close contact.”) Following guidelines from the CDC and our local Health Department, individuals who have been exposed need to quarantine for the full 14 days. If they test negative during that period, that is a very good sign and should bring them some relief, but they still need to complete the 14-day quarantine. 

Should I self-isolate or self-quarantine if I've been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms?

“Self-quarantine” and “self-isolation” are not part of our protocol at SLU. They are, in fact, a direct violation of our Campus Commitment. And they put our campus at risk.  Even if you think what you are experiencing is  “just allergies,” “just the winter sniffles,” or “just another migraine,”  you must report those symptoms and any possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 immediately to Student Health or Employee Health (for staff, faculty and clinical students).

 

What support will be available for students who test positive for COVID-19 who live off campus?

Student Health Center services are available to all SLU students, whether or not they live on campus. Students who inform Student Health they have tested positive for COVID-19 can access:

  • Video visits
  • RN check-ins
  • In-person clinic visits (after a preliminary phone or virtual assessment)
  • Links to virtual resources from various areas of campus (University Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, wellness services)

Students known to be in isolation or quarantine will be able to opt in to wellness check-ins conducted by SLU's University Counseling Center. 

What happens if a student in a class tests positive for COVID-19?

Local public health officials will conduct contact tracing on all confirmed cases of COVID-19. A team of SLU public health and medical faculty and students will supplement that effort, working to rapidly identify potentially-exposed individuals. This will help us further limit on-campus spread. Being in a classroom with an infected person does not constitute an exposure if everyone maintained 6 feet of social distancing and was all wearing masks.

If a student notifies an instructor that they have tested positive for COVID-19, should that instructor notify other students in the class?

The instructor is not responsible for notifying others of a student’s positive test result. All possible measures should be taken to protect the privacy of any person who tests positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing will be performed and notifications will be made to any person who is considered a close contact so they can quarantine.

Will I be told if a student in my class, my classmate, or my instructor tests positive for COVID-19?

Not necessarily. You will only be notified if you are a close contact of the infected individual. If a member of the contact tracing team informs you that you are a close contact of an infected person, they will not provide the name of that individual to you.

Faculty  members will not/cannot be told by the contact tracing team or anyone at the University if they have a student in their class who is infected. However, the student is likely to notify their instructor(s), because a positive test means that they won’t be able to attend class face-to-face for the next 10 days and may even be too sick to participate in class at all. Students may share as much or as little information with their instructor as they would like about their health status. Infection status is considered protected health information (PHI) and is covered under HIPAA law. Anything an employee or student tells the contact tracer will be confidential information under HIPAA.

When a contract tracer notifies someone that they may have been exposed, they do not reveal the identity of the infected person. This is not only a legal mandate, but it’s particularly important for university employees and students because people will only cooperate in contact tracing if they trust that their privacy will be protected.
 
It’s important for everyone to understand that being in the same classroom in which everyone is wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet apart does not constitute an exposure if one of the students or the instructor tests positive for COVID-19. You would need to have close contact (closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more while not wearing masks) with a student, staff, or faculty member outside of the class or campus setting to constitute an exposure. Please note that due to changes in the CDC, this 15 minutes is now counted cumulatively over 24 hours, and not just 15 minutes all at once.  An example could be attending the same off-campus party or event in which individuals are not wearing masks, ​or multiple short unmasked close conversations that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour time period.

If a student in one class tests positive, does everyone in that class require testing? And should the class suspend meeting in-person until everyone has been tested?

If classmates adhered to social distancing and mask-wearing, they are not likely to be considered close contacts or require quarantine or testing. Certain types of instructional spaces or activities may involve close contact between students, so there is no single answer. The contact tracing process will identify any individuals who will need to be tested or quarantined, and they will be notified directly.

If testing is required for students after a classmate tests positive, how do instructors verify that the necessary testing has taken place? Are instructors allowed by law to require — or even request — such verification?

The Student Health Center cannot disclose the health information of students. However, information can always be given to the Student Health Center. If faculty have concerns about a student, they can call and relay their concern for follow up by Student Health Center staff.

If a student is told they have to quarantine for 14 days, but they receive a negative test result before their quarantine period is over, can they resume campus activity?  

No. Fourteen days is the incubation period to determine if a person develops an infection after a potential exposure. While a negative test halfway through is a good sign and can relieve worry, the individual must still complete the full 14 days.  

 

Contact Tracing

Is the University conducting any contact tracing?

Yes. An internal contact tracing team has been established to work with city health officials. This was done to rapidly identify potentially exposed individuals who need to be placed into quarantine and limit disease spread on campus. This team includes public health and medical school faculty and students. 

 How will positive test results be communicated during contract tracing? How will we ensure that an individual’s personal information isn’t compromised in that process?

An individual’s infection status is considered protected health information under HIPAA law. Through contact tracing, we can let people know that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 without identifying the infected individual. 

What will the contact tracing team define as a close contact?

Activities that would qualify as having close contact with an infected person:

  • Living with an infected individual, such as being a roommate
  • Sharing a meal with an infected person when sitting closer than 6 feet apart
  • Being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person when you are not wearing a mask
  • Having close physical contact with an infected person, such as kissing
  • Touching a contaminated object that has an infected person’s respiratory secretions on it, such as a facial tissue, and then not performing hand hygiene before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Having multiple brief encounters closer than 6 feet with someone unmasked that add up to 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period

 Activities that would not qualify as having close contact with an infected person:

  • Being in the same classroom in which everyone is wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet apart
  • Living on the same floor or in the same building as an infected person, but not as roommates
  • Working in the same building or office together when desks or work areas are more than 6 feet apart and everyone is wearing a mask
  • Passing an infected individual in the hallway when everyone is wearing a mask
  • Riding on the elevator with an infected individual when everyone is wearing a mask
What should someone do if they are called by the Health Department or University contact tracing team and told they should quarantine because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19?

It depends on who the person is.

Students should call the Student Health Center and inform them immediately. If the student lives on campus, the Student Health Center team will begin making arrangements for the student to move into quarantine housing. If the student lives off campus, the Student Health Center will help offer additional guidance based on their living situation. Students who are required to quarantine may not attend class in person or leave their quarantine space for any reason.

Employees should call Employee Health immediately. The Employee Health team will offer guidance and next steps. You should inform your supervisor or department chair so arrangements can be made for you to work from home. 

The Office of Employee Health can be reached by telephone Monday through Friday at 314-257-8400 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also contact Employee Health any time via email at employeehealth@slu.edu.

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

If you have had close contact with an infected individual, or if you believe you have been exposed, please contact Employee Health or the Student Health Center.

For the purposes of SLU’s contact tracing program, the following is the definition of a close contact: Being within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or longer without both individuals wearing a mask, or having direct physical contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person, such as being coughed or sneezed on when not wearing a mask, regardless of the length of time of exposure.


Interim Mask Policy

Does SLU have a policy on face masks? 

SLU adopted an Interim Policy on Face Masks in May 2020. The policy includes requirements and guidance for face masks to be worn by all members of the University community in all public, non-clinical settings. The policy is currently under review following the CDC recently lifting most public health safeguards for fully vaccinated persons, including permission to go mask-free and eliminate social distancing — indoors and out.

Is SLU relaxing its mask requirements for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 consistent with the latest guidance from the CDC?

SLU’s interim face mask policy is under review in light of the latest guidance, but the University has announced that fully vaccinated students, staff and faculty are no longer required to wear face masks on campus, except in health care settings, such as Student Health, Employee Health and SLUCare facilities.  As a reminder, a person is deemed fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving their single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Per the CDC guidance, students, faculty and staff who are not vaccinated should continue to wear face masks inside all SLU buildings as well as outdoors if they cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others.

UPDATE: Starting Monday, July 26, face masks again will be required to be worn inside all buildings on our St. Louis campuses. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. This action complies with new guidance from local health officials who are mandating face mask use in all public places, on public transportation and in crowded outdoor spaces.

COVID-19 Update: SLU Reinstates Mask Mandate (July 23)

I have a medical condition that my physician believes would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering at all or for prolonged periods of time. What should I do?

If you have a medical condition that you believe requires an accommodation from the University face covering policy, please contact the Office of Disability Services (students) or Human Resources (faculty and staff) to discuss your individual situation.

For more information, view FAQ on accommodations and the Interim Mask Policy.

If I receive an accommodation from the University face covering policy who will be informed and what will they be told?

For faculty, your department chair and dean will be informed by Human Resources of the needed accommodation but not the underlying medical reason for the accommodation. For staff, your direct supervisor will similarly be informed of the needed accommodation but not the underlying medical condition. Human resources may also have to work with your leadership to determine what accommodations are and are not reasonable – a process known as the interactive process. For students, the process is similar but handled by Disability Support Services who will work with you and notify your faculty of your accommodation and whether they can or cannot reasonably be met in the learning environment. 

 

Safeguards in the Classroom 

Are instructors responsible for any classroom and/or classroom equipment disinfection prior to and following sessions? 

Disinfecting of classrooms takes place at the end of each day. Disinfecting supplies and sanitizer dispensers are available in every classroom. Students and instructors are encouraged to disinfect their own work or class space. Hard surfaces in some instructional spaces, such as labs, are disinfected before each session.

Is classroom seating clearly marked according to social distancing standards, or are instructors responsible for enforcing seating arrangements?

Classrooms are marked with appropriate social distancing guidance. However, it is incumbent on instructors and students to maintain this appropriate distancing.

Are instructors responsible for symptom monitoring of students in their class(es)? 

No. Instructors are only responsible for monitoring and reporting their own health symptoms. 

What should a faculty member do if an in-person student tells them they are quarantining or isolating and will not be in in-person classes for a few weeks?

Flexibility is key. Knowing they are probably not the only student in that course who is learning remotely, prepare to make necessary accommodations for that student so they can continue to participate in class from wherever they may be. 

Remember that students in quarantine do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and should be able, from a health perspective, to continue coursework remotely. Students who are in isolation may not feel well enough to fully participate in class, at least for a few days, as would be true any time a student is ill.

 

Additional Safeguards on Campus

What measures are being taken to keep the spread of coronavirus in residence halls where students live and interact in close proximity?

In addition to our campus-wide safeguards SLU has additional safeguards for students living on campus. Daily health screening and reporting also allows us to better understand possible outbreaks on campus. The Interim Policy on University Classroom Space Prioritization also limits events on campus. 

In addition to testing residential students upon move-in, regular, random testing during the semester has allowed us to better understand and prevent any potential asymptomatic spread. 

We believe all of these actions will help to curb potential outbreaks of COVID-19 in our student community. 

At times, the SLU Grand Shuttle is very crowded, with all the seats taken and passengers standing in the aisle of the shuttle.  How is this being handled?

In conjunction with University requirements for masks on campus, masks are also required at all times when riding the shuttles. Shuttle routes, capacity and additional safeguards have been reviewed with the shuttle service provider and  posted on the Billiken Shuttle Service page on slu.edu and on the SLU app

Are any events or in-person programs allowed on campus? What about in-person meetings?

In-person meetings and events on campus are extremely limited consistent with the interim policy on meetings and events and the interim policy on classroom space prioritization. Students seeking to understand what in-person activities are available to them may consult the Guidance for Student Activities, Meetings and Events.

How do City of St. Louis guidelines on social gatherings during the pandemic affect activities between classes and other operations?

The guidelines say there are clear differences between what you can do for educational purposes as compared to the guidelines for social gatherings. Classes that are properly implementing protective measures are considered acceptable under these guidelines. Social gatherings are considered events.

Learn More About Events on Campus During COVID-19 

Are there any travel restrictions in place? 

Yes. All University-sponsored travel is canceled until further notice. We strongly discourage all members of the SLU community from personal travel to minimize any potential exposure to COVID-19. 

Learn More 

What if my Questions Haven't Been Answered? 

Contact pandemic@slu.edu and we will connect you to the right place as soon as possible.