May 2023 marked the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration. This signaled that COVID-19 has passed the pandemic phase and has entered into what officials call an endemic phase, meaning the virus that causes the COVID-19 will likely continue to evolve new strains as the virus tries to spread with seasonal peaks in different regions of the world. In response, the FDA has cleared new COVID boosters, with hopes that they can blunt a possible spike in winter illness. Data on the virulence of newer variants is lacking, but for most people, symptoms are generally mild and include sore throat, cough, congestion, headache, and fatigue. Beginning on September 25, 2023, the CDC is providing four free at-home COVID-19 tests for each household.
The Campus Safety Committee continues to work to provide important guidance for those in the Garrett community who become ill or come in contact with others who test positive. Out of primary concern for the safety and well-being of the Garrett community, we have launched two self-reporting portals, one for students and one for faculty and staff (please read on to see when to make use of them). We believe it is incumbent upon us as a Christian community to uphold and care for the health and safety of others, and self-reporting is one way we can put into practice Christ’s love in our midst.
We ask you to take the preventative measures below to keep our infection rate at Garrett as low as possible:
If you are symptomatic, (a) get tested, (b) use a mask regardless of the test result since a negative test does not guarantee that you are not infected with the virus, and (c) do your best to isolate yourself from others.
For those who test positive:
- Employees who test positive should stay home and isolate for at least 5 days. You are most likely to infect others during this time. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms. Please fill out the Employee Self-Reporting Form.
- Students who test positive should also isolate at home and not attend class for at least 5 days. Please fill out the Student Self-Reporting Form. This tool enables us to properly follow-up with classes, offices, and/or groups that may have been exposed. We will not be implementing contact tracing and we encourage students to communicate directly with those faculty whose classes are meeting in-person.
- For employees and students: While you may end isolation after 5 days if your symptoms are improving and you are fever free, you should wear a mask through day 10.
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC has guidelines on COVID exposure; see their helpful "Isolation and Exposure Calculator" so you can move through their assessment, which takes into consideration a number of personal factors, in order to make an informed decision about what practices relative to masking and testing are appropriate for your situation.
In general, you do not need to isolate unless you develop symptoms; however, you should get tested on or after 6 days from exposure, and you should wear a mask indoors around others for 10 days In addition to basic health and hygiene preventive strategies such as regular and thorough handwashing, you can lower your risk of getting sick by spending more time outdoors, maximizing ventilation while inside, staying up to date with vaccines, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.
Thank you for taking care of yourself and looking out for others. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the academic dean’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.