COVID-19 Update: Quarantine Protocol, Dashboard and More
August 31, 2021
To the Saint Louis University community,
What an exciting time on campus! Students are back and the campus is full of life again.
As always, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to the public health and safety of your fellow Billikens and our St. Louis neighbors. Our vaccine uptake rate is remarkable at almost 97 percent of all faculty, staff and students who physically come to one of our St. Louis campuses to live, work or learn. That 97 percent is a remarkable feat. Thank you.
In today’s message, I want to update you on a few critical COVID-19 items of note, including more information about:
- Quarantine protocols
- Mask compliance reminder
- SLU’s COVID-19 dashboard
Later this week, we plan to share more information with you about booster vaccinations and the University’s events policy and procedures for the academic year. Stay tuned for that.
Quarantine and close contact protocols
Quarantine protocols have changed as more and more people have become fully vaccinated. Remember: Only those who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated are required to quarantine, and then only if they were not wearing a face mask when they came in close proximity to someone with COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people do not have to quarantine.
New this year: The City Health Department is permitting us to use the shortened quarantine protocol, per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In return, the City is requiring us to prospectively monitor the safety of this protocol.
That means we are requiring everyone who is identified as a close contact by SLU’s Contact Tracing team to be tested, regardless of vaccination status or mask use. If the data we have collected indicates that the shortened quarantine is enabling disease transmission, we will revert to the City’s mandated 14-day quarantine period.
As a reminder, being a close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected individual(s) for 15 minutes or more cumulative over a 24-hour period. This is regardless of your vaccination status or whether one or both individuals were masked.
We can expect that more of us will be deemed close contacts this fall, primarily because we are not physically distancing ourselves in classrooms and lab spaces this fall. Students, please get to know your classmates’ names. If you test positive for COVID-19, the Contact Tracing Team will expect you to know who sat by you in your class(es). Now that we are back to full classrooms and can be in community with one another, let’s embrace this opportunity to get to know our fellow Billikens.
Mask compliance reminder
Face masks are with us to stay until local public health officials are convinced that the latest wave of COVID infections and hospitalizations has dropped dramatically. Currently, we have no definite plans to seek a waiver from the St. Louis City Health Department from the mask mandate.
We will be monitoring infection rates on campus very closely, including looking for in-class transmission. Once we have sufficient data to draw conclusions about campus safety, we will consider discussing with the City Health Department whether we can safely loosen restrictions and what that might look like for campus. As long as the data indicates that it's not safe to loosen our public health restrictions, we will continue with universal masking.
If you see someone on campus who is improperly wearing their face mask, please politely remind them to pull it up or put it on. Last year, most mask violations were accidental, due to the mask slipping down and the wearer didn’t notice. Let’s continue to show grace to our fellow Billikens with gentle reminders.
If you notice blatant or repeated mask violations by an employee or student, they may be reported anonymously through the SLU Integrity Hotline.
SLU’s COVID-19 dashboard
The University has resumed use of the COVID-19 dashboard that we published weekly through much of the last academic year. Data collection for the dashboard began on Aug. 16 with move-in testing data. The date will be updated every Tuesday with information from the previous week spanning Monday-Sunday.
Just like last year, you’ll notice there are separate tabs for student data and employee data. Employee data does not include those who work in clinical settings.
The dashboard also publishes infection rates based on vaccination status. This helps highlight when we are seeing breakthrough cases on campus, and how those compare to the number of unvaccinated people who are testing positive. As a nearly fully vaccinated campus, we can expect that many of the positive cases we identify will be breakthrough cases.
Unlike last academic year, the #CampusClear symptom checking app is no longer something we will use or monitor this year. You should continue to monitor your health daily and report all symptoms to Student Health (314-977-2323) or Employee Health (314-257-8400) as soon as possible. If you feel ill, we expect you to be tested before coming back to campus.
Student Health is offering a same-day COVID-19 testing clinic. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Look for more details about this soon.
Thank you again for your continued patience and cooperation, and congratulations on a successful start to the fall semester.
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