Staying Healthy As We Return to Campus (Spring 2023)
January 14, 2023
Dear members of the SLU community:
We are excited to begin spring semester next week. I write with an update that will help to keep our community healthy as we continue to navigate flu season and the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
New COVID-19 variant
A new SARS CoV-2 variant, XBB.1.5., has been identified in Missouri and is expected to cause the majority of new COVID-19 cases as we begin the spring semester.
Evidence of XBB.1.5’s high transmissibility and evasion of both natural- and vaccine-induced immunity leads us to anticipate a possible new wave of cases on our St. Louis campuses tied to this variant.
Even if you were infected with COVID-19 in the last few months (more than 30 days ago), you could still become infected with XBB.1.5.
The predominance of this new variant, a combination of two previously circulating Omicron sub-lineages, means that you will need to seek testing if you develop COVID-19-like symptoms – even if you have tested positive recently.
While currently available COVID-19 vaccines may not prevent infection from XBB.1.5, staying up-to-date with vaccination continues to greatly reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Please contact email@example.com for details about testing timelines and processes, or with any other questions you may have about XBB.1.5. Remember to follow these reporting guidelines if you test positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing encouraged before returning to campus
We will not require return-to-campus COVID-19 testing. However, we encourage you to get a COVID-19 test before you return. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to an infected individual, you are expected to test before returning to campus. If you do test positive, do not return to campus. Follow these reporting guidelines.
Did you have COVID-19 over break? Please let us know.
Please let us know if you tested positive for COVID-19 over break. Students and employees who tested positive over break should contact SLU’s Contact Tracing team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the date you tested positive and a photo of your test or test results.
Want to receive your bivalent booster?
Our next campus vaccination clinic will take place on Tuesday, January 24, in the Simon Recreation Center. Our dedicated nursing students and faculty will administer doses from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. You may register for an appointment here.
Vaccines are also readily available at community vaccination sites near you.
Remember these easy steps to protect your health
If you are concerned about contracting COVID-19, especially amidst this new variant, remember that a well-fitting, high quality face mask or respirator reduces your risk of infection. Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 boosters when you are eligible.
And don’t forget to wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, and follow other routine steps to prevent the spread of disease. If you do have symptoms that could be COVID-19 or flu, check in with Student Health or your healthcare provider to find out if you should seek testing.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts to protect the health and well-being of the SLU community. We wish you a healthy and happy start to the new year.
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