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COVID-19 Update: Isolation & Quarantine Housing, Weekly Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing, Pause on Events

January 14, 2022

To Saint Louis University community members: 

Welcome back to campus. We continue to prepare extensively for what is likely to be a bumpy first few weeks of our spring semester, given the continued rise of Omicron variant infections in the St. Louis area.

But working together, we can get over these bumps.

We have a lot of logistical issues to cover with you, so please be patient.

Isolation and quarantine housing is available, but may be limited 

As we have shared in recent messages, we are expecting a potentially large increase in COVID-19 cases when students return to campus this weekend, largely due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. 

With that in mind, our isolation and quarantine housing team explored a series of options. While none are perfect, we continue to operate guided by our mission and student well-being as our priority. 

Here are some key things you should know about our plans:

These are short-term solutions intended only to get us through an anticipated early surge of infections caused by the Omicron variant. If the surge lasts longer than a few weeks or if a large number of residential students require campus-provided isolation housing, we will need to pivot to another isolation and quarantine strategy, such as isolating in place.

We will keep you informed along the way as we work through all of our options. 

Weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing for on-campus residential students 

Starting the second week of classes (Jan. 24), we will begin testing a random sample of 10% of our on-campus students every week. We have not done this type of testing since last spring 2021. We are starting this now because we want to monitor infection rates among our residential students living in a congregate setting.

The plan is to conduct this weekly random sample surveillance testing for the first three weeks of the semester. The data will be analyzed and then a decision will be made about continuing, changing, or ending that testing.

In addition, we also will test select clusters or groups identified by our contact tracing team as having a high potential for risk. Individuals tested in this group could include both on-campus and off-campus residents, as well as staff or faculty members who may be associated with the group. For example, if contact tracers detected concerns about a larger group, we could choose to test all students and faculty in a given research lab, the entire floor of a residence hall, an entire student athletics team, or an entire student organization. This testing approach has been very successful for us in the past.

Additionally, we will test all relevant athletes and athletic staff as per NCAA rules and Saint Louis City Health Department requirements.

A temporary stop on internal and external events  

We previously shared a temporary pause on internal and external events. We know our students are eager to get back to normal with the types of events that bring you together to celebrate and learn outside of the classroom. The University’s goal has been and will continue to be a return to an open campus, with regular operations, as quickly as it is safe to do so. 

As of right now, here is our plan: 

In-person meetings are still OK! 

While infection rates remain high, we encourage you to take your meetings online whenever possible, but this is not a requirement. There is no cap on how many people can attend your meeting — just be sure to exercise good judgment and keep your face mask on for indoor meetings. 

When feasible, in-person meetings should not involve food and beverages to eliminate opportunities for unmasked exposure time. Taking a quick sip of a beverage at a meeting is fine, but your face mask must then be returned to its proper position on your face.

Availability of surgical face masks 

We will have some surgical masks available on campus this spring. Housing and Residence Life staff will distribute those to students in packs of five, for those who wish to use them. We also will make some available to faculty and staff. Keep in touch with your unit’s business manager for more information.

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

Other public health reminders/measures 


For 23 months we have shown an incredible commitment to OneSLU and kept our campus safe and open. We can make it through this semester by being kind, considerate and supportive of one another.

As always, our plans remain flexible as we learn more about this evolving situation.

If you have any questions, please email us at pandemic@slu.edu.

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