December 30, 2021

COVID requirements for returning to campus

Dear Campus Community,

I hope you are enjoying the holidays and getting some much needed time with family and friends.

On Monday, the CDC issued adjusted guidance on isolation and quarantine protocols in response to what is currently known about the Omicron variant. Our COVID Response Committee (CRC) and Public Health and Safety Advisory Group (PHSAG) are in the process of updating our Furman Focused website and will communicate more details about the spring semester safety protocols in the coming week.

First and foremost, we will open as planned with in-person classes on Monday, January 10, so students should continue with their original travel plans. In spite of the challenges of the new variant, it is our hope and expectation that Furman will be able to continue operations through the spring semester as we did in the fall, with full engagement in campus activities.

According to the CDC director, data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection after six months decreases to approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.

This data, in conjunction with the CDC’s new recommendation that vaccinated individuals who are not yet boosted quarantine for five days after an exposure to COVID-19, and our desire to maintain less restrictive campus operations, has led us to require eligible students not previously exempted to obtain a booster vaccination no later than January 11. (Per CDC recommendations, boosters should be obtained six months after receiving a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months after the J&J vaccine. For those students who do not yet meet these criteria, a booster should be obtained within two weeks of the date of eligibility.)

This requirement also applies to all students participating in study away during the spring semester. Most countries are requiring the booster as indicated in earlier emails from the study away office.

Students (and faculty and staff) should receive a booster before returning to campus, if eligible, as this will allow students to avoid quarantine if exposed to a positive case (similar to how we operated during the fall semester).

Once boosted, students must submit a copy of their vaccination card to furmanstudenthealth@PrismaHealth.org. A simple photo of the card attached to an email will suffice. Faculty and staff will receive instructions from Human Resources next week.

We know many of you may have questions. Please give our Furman Focused team time to develop and communicate more guidance, since the university is currently closed for the holiday. We are making this decision now so we can successfully start the spring semester.

On that note, we strongly recommend that students remain in a low-contact environment, as much as possible, for the five days before returning to campus.

Thank you for your continued patience, understanding and care for our community.

Warmly,

Elizabeth Davis
President