Masked, vaxxed, and the latest on-campus guidelines

The Koret Health and Recreation Center will continue to offer activities and programs for students to participate in. PHOTO COURTESY OF USF OFFICE OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS  

USF fully reopened its campus this past week for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the University to shut down in March 2020. Sophomore international business major Jocelyn Luciani is, for one, “happy to be on campus.” She described a definite joy in the campus community for being together again. “People are very excited to interact with each other in classes.” However, despite the thrill of being back in person, she said, “I think in the back of everybody’s mind is a sense of fear that this could be taken away again.” 

Recently, the Delta variant has been dominating much of the country. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that all “FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines help protect against Delta and other known variants.” So, what are the latest practices USF is implementing to maintain a healthy campus community? 

On May 24, the University mandated that all “undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all faculty and staff employees, [must be] fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for fall 2021.” However, exceptions have been made to this rule. According to Vice President of Student Life Julie Orio’s email, “With proper documentation, USF will accept medical and religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.” All students are required to upload their proof of vaccination or exemption request through the Med+Proctor portal.

The USF community does have access to see updated vaccination statistics via the University’s Vaccination Dashboard. At the time of writing, 89.3% of employees are fully vaccinated, 2.2% are unvaccinated, and 8.5% have not reported their status. Among students, 84.9% are fully vaccinated, 2.6% are partially vaccinated, 11.3% are under follow-up, and 1.2% were granted an exception.

The expectation that nearly all campus community members are vaccinated coupled with San Francisco having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country makes students like Luciani feel “safe being back on campus.”

However, senior biology major An Tran said she still has reservations about being on campus since students were able to opt-out of being vaccinated. “I understand their reasons,” she said, “but I wonder if enough people on campus are vaccinated to have reached herd immunity.” 

Additionally, in accordance with city guidelines, everyone who eats inside the University Center and Lone Mountain dining facilities or uses the Koret Health and Recreation Center is required to be fully vaccinated. 

The University is also complying with other local, statewide, and nationwide requirements such as the implementation of mask wearing inside regardless of vaccination status, increased sanitation and filtration services, no overnight guests in residential buildings, contact tracing, isolation, and self-quarantine. 

This past summer, all students were required to complete the “Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment for Students on Campus” EVERFI course by Aug. 24 or face a $100 fine. 

Campus community members are also instructed to complete symptom monitoring daily via the Dons Health Check before coming to campus. However, omitting the survey does not meet the same financial penalization or campus inaccessibility as the EVERFI course. Some students have acknowledged that they have forgotten to complete the form. “Recently, it has been hard to remember to complete,” Luciani said. “I understand its importance, but it should be enforced more.”

While in his welcome letter to students President Fitzgerald wrote that the University is “monitoring public health data daily, and regularly updating our protocols and policies,” Tran said that due to the vaccine opt-out and the lack of social distancing in locales such as the cafeteria, she does not “believe that USF is doing enough to keep us safe.”

Since Aug. 24, there have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the University of San Francisco community: one commuter student to the Sacramento campus, two  non-residential students, and one residential student in isolation on campus. 

In the Aug. 19 university student update, Orio wrote that “USF continues to focus on doing everything possible to keep the entire university community as safe as possible.” She continued by saying, “Everyone will follow current guidance and expectations to ensure that we are all doing our part to keep our community healthy.”

For all the latest official University information and updates about campus COVID-19 guidelines, visit USF Together.

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