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Critical COVID-19 Updates as We Prepare for the Spring Semester

January 10, 2022

Dear members of the SLU community, 

We know that many of you have questions and concerns about the start of the spring semester amid the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.

The situation is evolving quickly, and our team is working hard to implement contingency plans to ensure a safe return to campus. Stay with us as we provide some critical updates about COVID test kits arriving for students, isolation and quarantine protocols, and a pause on events, and thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. 

Booster dose requirement update 

Please get your booster vaccine now. The sooner you get it, the sooner you benefit from the booster dose, and the safer campus will be for us all. If you wait until closer to the deadline, you won’t obtain the optimal benefit of it until mid-Feb (for students) or mid-March (for employees). It may also mean that you need to quarantine if you have an exposure to an infected individual.

If you received either the single-dose J&J vaccine less than two months ago or the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer less than five months ago, you are not yet eligible for the booster dose. That means that you are currently in compliance with the new booster dose requirement. Once you become eligible for the booster dose, you will have one week to receive it in order to comply with the booster dose requirement policy. 

If you were recently infected with COVID-19, you are still expected to receive your booster dose if you are eligible. Please wait until after you have recovered from your illness and ended isolation before getting vaccinated.

Expect to see another email from me later this week with a link to the vaccine portal for you to upload your proof of booster to meet the previously announced deadlines (Jan. 31 for students and SLUCare employees; Feb. 28 for all other employees).

Those who received an approved vaccine exemption for the fall semester are automatically exempt from this spring’s booster dose requirement. In addition, the portal will include a vaccine exemption request option based on medical and religious reasons for those who received the initial vaccine series, but whose situation has changed since fall.

We encourage you to find a community vaccination clinic so that you can get your booster dose right away. However, if you want to get your booster vaccine at SLU, you can register for an appointment here. Our on-campus vaccination clinics re-open on Tuesday, Jan 18.

Required COVID-19 testing for all on-campus students & unvaccinated students living off campus 

As President Pestello shared last week, we are expanding our return-to-campus testing requirements due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Testing is required of all students who will be on any of our St. Louis campuses this spring who either: 

Return-to-campus testing must be completed by Jan. 18. A longer email will be sent to you with full details, but here are your options:

Please be patient and stay safe until the team sends your results. You are not required to quarantine while waiting for results. 

Optional testing for off-campus vaccinated students and all employees 

We are offering optional and free COVID-19 tests for all off-campus students who are vaccinated, as well as for all employees who wish to be tested regardless of their vaccination status. This is a saliva PCR test, which requires no eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum for 30 minutes before testing. 

Feel free to drop by during any of the open clinic times listed above at the Simon Rec Center. Testing is only available for SLU students and employees, not for family or friends. You will need to present your SLU ID at testing. 

The team will send you your results as soon as they are available. Please be patient. 

Temporary pause on all events 

We are temporarily canceling all in-person events, except those in Chaifetz Arena, until at least Feb. 13.  This includes both internal and external events, as defined by the Fall 2021 “Guidance for Activities, Meetings and Events for our St. Louis Campuses.” This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution as COVID-19 surges in St. Louis. It also allows our campus community time to develop the full benefit of the booster dose requirement and to focus on starting the spring semester in the safest way possible.

As a University, we recognize that some in-person events may be necessary to continue fulfilling our mission and academic enterprise. Thus, select events which are deemed "mission central" may be approved before Feb. 13. We also are working closely with the Student Government Association (SGA) to ensure that students’ perspectives are heard as we make decisions about which events and activities should be reinstituted first.

Later this week, we shall alert you of the availability of our final guidance on meetings and events for the spring semester. 

Isolation and quarantine protocols for non-clinical students and employees 

We are in the process of implementing the new isolation and quarantine guidelines released by the St. Louis City Health Department for our non-clinical students and employees. The good news is that this means a: 

The bad news is that the new quarantine guidelines require you to quarantine if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are eligible for a booster dose but have not received it. This is another reason to receive your booster dose right away and not wait until you return to campus. Having received your booster dose means that you won’t need to quarantine.

Isolation and quarantine protocols for clinical students and employees are different from the above. Clinical employees and students will work with the Office of Employee Health to determine the correct isolation and quarantine protocols for them.

Face masks 

Our face mask requirement policy remains in place for the spring semester, and has not changed. We do not currently require the use of surgical masks or KN95 or N95 respirators, except in some clinical settings. 

If you decide to purchase KN95s, please know that many sold are actually counterfeit and do not provide the same level of protection as legitimate KN95s. You can read more about that here, to see how to ensure that the KN95s you are purchasing are produced by a legitimate manufacturer.

Outside of clinical settings, the best face mask to use is one that is tight-fitting and has multiple layers of material. Masks that include a nose wire that allows a tighter fit at the top of the mask may help prevent air leakage in and out of the mask. A surgical mask offers most of these characteristics. We will have surgical masks available at the start of the semester for those who prefer to wear them. 

In clinical settings, please follow the mask/respirator policy at your clinical site.

Please stay tuned for additional messages about our COVID-19 protocols as we start the spring semester.

As always, please contact with any questions or concerns.

Stay safe and be well, 

Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., RN, CIC, FAPIC  
Special Assistant to the President  
Director, Institute for Biosecurity  
Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics  
College for Public Health and Social Justice