Second Phase of Updated Face Mask and Events Guidelines and More
March 25, 2022
To the Saint Louis University community,
I write with good news. COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates in the region continue to be low. Here at SLU:
- In the weeks since we loosened the campus mask policy, infection rates have remained very low overall, though we have seen a small increase in the number of symptomatic students who test positive for COVID-19.
- Since February 28, 691 asymptomatic tests have been performed, and none of the students have tested positive. This includes the 189 asymptomatic students tested after spring break.
In the campus message sent March 4, we indicated that we would monitor campus data and community conditions carefully from March 7 - March 27, and make evidence-based decisions about the next phase of dialing back our COVID-19 safeguards. The campus data show that we are not yet seeing a large negative impact on campus infection rates after relaxing our mask mandate. For the time being, we are in a good position to further relax restrictions related to face masks and events.
This email includes details about:
- Updates to face mask guidelines
- Showing continued care for our community
- Availability of KN95s
- Plans for random sample asymptomatic testing
- Expectations for self-screening before coming to campus
- Updates to Chaifetz Arena venue guidelines
- Updates to other external events on campus
- Anticipated guidelines for summer camps and events
- A reminder about getting tested if you have symptoms
- Being prepared for changing circumstances and guidelines
Updates to face mask guidelines, effective Monday, March 28
As President Pestello recently announced: Beginning Monday, face mask requirements will be lifted in all but health care and clinical settings. Face masks will be optional for students, staff, faculty and visitors in:
- Indoor settings: Face masks are optional in active instructional settings, residence halls, food services, academic and administrative departments, meetings and conference rooms, offices and cubicles, Simon Recreation Center, and our libraries — except when you are interacting with someone who is wearing a mask. When you engage with another person who is wearing a mask, you are expected to demonstrate cura personalis, and put on your own face mask.
- Indoor campus events: Face masks are optional — except when the hosting organization chooses to require face masks. If the hosting group decides that face masks are required, then face masks must be worn by all attendees. When you choose to attend an event, you are choosing to comply with the event guidelines set forth by the event organizers.
- Chaifetz Arena: Face masks are optional except when the hosting organization requires masking for attendees.
Face masks continue to be required in:
- Healthcare or clinical settings where patient encounters are likely: Face masks are required in SLUCare, Student Health Center, Employee Health, University Counseling Center, Center for Counseling and Family Therapy, Psychological Services Center, Interdisciplinary Center for Autism Services, Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, the Center for Advanced Dental Education, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.
- SLU shuttles: Face masks are required.
Showing continued care for our community
While the risk of disease transmission is much lower in current conditions, the risk is not eliminated — and we must continue to show care for members of our community who are at high risk for serious disease, or who care for vulnerable people.
As a community, we have a shared expectation that we will show care for the well-being of others by putting on a face mask when we interact with someone who is wearing a face mask. This means:
- You should carry a mask with you, even when you are going into mask-optional spaces.
- If you approach someone to have a conversation and they are wearing a mask, please put on your mask.
- If a colleague or faculty member approaches you to talk or work in a small group and they are wearing a mask, go ahead and mask up.
- If you interact with a person doing essential work for our community and they are masked, remember to don your mask.
- If you work in a department where students or employees may wish to be masked, consider keeping a supply of disposable masks available for others to put on. If you would like to obtain some disposable surgical masks for your classroom, lab, office, or workspace, please email email@example.com.
- If you are just passing someone in the hallway who is masked, you do not need to put on your mask.
- If an instructor chooses to wear a mask while teaching or if a student wears a mask while in class, this does not mean that the entire class must be masked for the length of class. But if you are actively engaging with a masked faculty member or student in a small group or individual interaction, go ahead and put on your mask.
Please show grace with one another as we transition to being a mask-optional campus. Be open to having a respectful (if maybe a little awkward) conversation as we all adjust to new guidelines. If you’re not sure if you should put on your mask, just ask.
KN95s are available
We will also continue to show care and compassion for members of vulnerable groups by providing high-quality respirators to those who request them.
Evidence tells us that wearing a high-quality respirator can minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19, even in a mask-optional setting. SLU has obtained a supply of KN95 respirators to support our community members who wish to have a more protective mask/respirator. If you would like to obtain a KN95, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Random sample asymptomatic testing
As we mentioned in our March 4 communication, we decided to continue random sample asymptomatic testing through March 27 to monitor infection rates on campus after we had relaxed our face mask guidelines.
Our COVID-19 response team has since agreed to extend the weekly random sample asymptomatic testing of 10% of our residential students through Friday, April 8. This will allow us to monitor campus infection rates after we further reduce campus restrictions. After April 8, our team will meet to determine whether asymptomatic testing will continue, be revised, or be stopped.
Expectations for self-screening before coming to campus
As we continue to loosen COVID-related protocols, individuals are still expected to self-screen for COVID-like symptoms before coming to SLU’s campus.
If you have symptoms or if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please get tested or be screened by a healthcare provider before you arrive on campus. Contact Student Health (314-977-2323) or Employee Health (314-257-8400) if you have symptoms or an exposure and would like to be tested.
Updates to Chaifetz Arena venue guidelines
Chaifetz Arena no longer requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Face masks are currently optional in Chaifetz Arena, as well.
Specific performers or event promoters may still require face masks, proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative test. Details for specific events will be posted on the Chaifetz Venue Rules website.
SLU’s expectations for self-screening before coming to Chaifetz Arena will also apply.
Updates to spring external events guidelines
Effective Monday, March 28, we are lifting our capacity restrictions and will no longer require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend external events on campus, including commencement. Face masks continue to be optional for external events, as well.
Because the most restrictive COVID-related protocols have been lifted, the DER will not need to review proposals for events that take place on March 28 forward. We thank you for your patience as we work to update web pages with these updated event guidelines over the coming days.
Remember that the hosting organization of any particular event may choose to require face masks, proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative test. Details for specific events will be distributed by the hosting organization.
SLU’s expectations for self-screening before coming to any external event will also apply.
Anticipated guidelines for summer camps and events
If current conditions continue, we anticipate that there will be no COVID-related restrictions in place for the vast majority of summer camps and events – with the exception of SLU’s expectation for self-screening before coming to campus.
There may be a small number of summer programs for which vaccination is required, because of the age and work environment of the participants, as well as the length of time they will spend on campus. We are already discussing details with the directors of those programs.
Reminder: Get tested if you have any COVID-like symptoms
We are now a few weeks into our mask optional policy and we are seeing a slight increase in student cases on campus. All of the 14 COVID-positive students identified since February 28 presented with symptoms of COVID (e.g., runny nose, headache, persistent cough, or fever) or had a known exposure to someone with COVID-19. By identifying and acting on those symptoms and/or following our post-exposure testing protocol, those students helped prevent spreading the disease to others. We applaud their embrace of cura personalis.
It is more essential than ever that any individuals who have COVID-like symptoms follow these steps:
- If you live on campus, do not leave your living space. If you live off campus, do not come to campus to work or study.
- Contact Student Health (314-977-2323), Employee Health (314-257-8400), or your primary care provider so that you may be screened by a health professional who will determine if you need to be tested before coming to campus or class.
- Wait until you get the okay to return to campus or class before you do so.
Remember that care for yourself and for our community go hand in hand.
Be prepared for changing circumstances and guidelines
Even as we look forward to good days ahead, we must remember that if circumstances change, we will adapt accordingly. If the data show continued low rates of infection, we can continue with relaxed restrictions. If infection rates increase or other new facts emerge, we may require face masks in more settings and/or re-activate other COVID-related guidelines as needed to safeguard the health of our community.
We have heard from some of you with concerns about the new BA.2 variant, a sub-lineage of Omicron. We are monitoring the situation in Europe and the U.S. closely. For now, evidence indicates that it is safe for us to loosen our restrictions. However, we remain ready to pivot if and when the situation changes.
It is wonderful to see your unmasked smiling faces, and I hope we can continue to do so for a long while. Stay safe, be well, and enjoy the spring.
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