Bust of Dick Riley wearing a mask

Health & Safety FAQ

It is important for each visitor and member of our community to recognize that even though the university will take precautions to reduce the risks of COVID-19 on campus, individuals can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by the virus, and everyone in our campus community shares the responsibility for the health of the community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I feel ill?

Do not go to class or work if you have a fever of 100.4° or above.

Students with symptoms of COVID-19, or those who have recently had close contact with a symptomatic person, should remain in their residence and contact the health professionals at the Earle Student Health Center for additional guidance (864.522.2000, monitored 24 hours daily).

Employees with symptoms of COVID-19 should initially contact their supervisor and consult medical guidance through PRISMA’s tele-health page or their personal care provider.

What are the modes of transmission of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a highly transmissible disease primarily spread through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be released into the air when someone infected with the virus coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes. These droplets can land in the mouth, nose or eyes and can be inhaled by someone nearby (typically, within 6 feet), or can land on nearby surfaces. Further, the virus can be spread in this way even if the infected person has no symptoms (“asymptomatic”).

Am I expected to self-monitor for symptoms?

All students and employees are expected to self-monitor and report their own health and symptoms daily, and positive symptoms are required to be reported. The most convenient mechanism to report positive symptoms or exposure is using the LiveSafe app, which may be downloaded here: Apple | Android. Students and employees without access to a smartphone can use this web form for the daily health and exposure screening.

Students and employees are expected to provide their own digital thermometer to facilitate daily health screening.

Personal and community protective measures are Furman’s best strategies to reduce viral transmission and keep our community well. It is the responsibility of each member of our community to familiarize themselves with the guidance provided, recognizing that guidance may change over time with emerging scientific evidence about the virus and disease transmission. We will continually evaluate our recommendations and revise them based on federal, state and local guidance as needed.

What is physical distancing?

To most effectively reduce the chance for infection, distances of at least 6 feet between individuals should be maintained whenever possible. Classroom seating and common areas (e.g., lounges, office areas, library spaces, and the Physical Activities Center) have been arranged to facilitate physical distancing.

When am I expected to wear a face covering?

Face coverings have been clearly demonstrated to reduce transmission via infectious droplets released from the nose and mouth. All students and employees are required to wear cloth face coverings at all times when in campus building, except as provided by limited exception (e.g., offices used only by one individual, student residences in presence of a roommate. Cloth face coverings must include at least two layers of fabric that fully extend over the nose and mouth, and fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the face.

As a reminder, students must wear face coverings in the common spaces and hallways of campus housing, including laundry rooms and lounges, and inside their assigned housing space when guests are present.

When outdoors, if physical distancing (more than 6 feet) can be expected to be reasonably maintained, face coverings may be removed, but should always be carried with you in the event you encounter situations where distancing is not possible. In addition, face coverings should be used in other locations outside buildings where physical distancing is not possible. For example, if traveling with others in a vehicle, a face covering should always be used by all present.

With few exceptions, face shields are not acceptable as a replacement for face coverings for general campus use.  Face shields are appropriate for faculty to use in a lecture situation where physical distancing can be accomplished. They may also find special use in some labs, for example, where toxic vapors could accumulate in a cloth covering, or in conversations with students who may read lips due to hearing impairment (again, with physical distancing).  Face shields should be curved around the face and drop below the chin, and should be disinfected between each use (by the user) using manufacturer’s suggested protocols. They should not be shared among users at any time.

Individuals requiring any accommodations with respect to masks should contact the Student Office for Accessibility Resources at SOAR@furman.edu (students) or Human Resources at humanresources@furman.edu (employees). Download the CDC’s guide to Using Cloth Face Coverings [PDF].

When are face coverings not required when indoors?

There are only a few exceptions to the face covering requirement when indoors on campus:

  • Medical reasons or other related accommodations as documented and approved by SOAR (for students) and HR (for employees);
  • Faculty may wear approved face shields when teaching as opposed to opaque face coverings to improve facial visibility for students who are hearing impaired;
  • Students and faculty may wear a face shield instead of face mask in laboratories when a cloth mask can increase dangers from solvent exposures, any open flame, etc. (i.e. chemistry lab);
  • Employees may remove their face covering in their private office when the door is closed;
  • Students in campus housing may remove their face coverings in their rooms/apartments and in the presence of their roommate (though regular use is still recommended);
  • Students in the dining hall, food court or other indoor eating establishments may remove their face coverings to eat, but only when actually eating; and
  • Staff in Facilities Services may have occasion when working in shops to remove their face coverings (using a face shield instead and maintaining physical distancing) to reduce potential injury.
What other personal hygiene measures are recommended?

Students and employees should frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after using the restroom, blowing your nose, and interacting with spaces that include commonly touched items such as door handles and desktops. If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% isopropyl alcohol may be substituted. Hand sanitizing stations are conveniently located throughout the campus in academic buildings, PAC, campus common areas such as the Trone Center and Dining Hall, etc.

Students and employees should avoid in-person contact with those who are symptomatic and/or who have tested positive for the virus. If coughing or sneezing occurs without a mask, use a tissue, your sleeve or the crook of your elbow to prevent droplet spread, and wash your hands. Develop habits of refraining from touching your face, and do not share drinks, phones, eating utensils or other personal items.

What are the guidelines for eating with others in informal, small groups?

There may be instances where students, faculty, or staff gather to eat informally as small groups (e.g. students dine together in apartment or off-campus restaurant, faculty/staff eat lunch in break room).  Regardless of location, the following are recommended practices in an effort to keep one another healthy and safe:

  • Minimize your pod or the number of individuals with whom you eat.
  • Arrange tables and chairs to allow for 6’ physical distancing.
  • Avoid wandering while eating or drinking.
  • Wear face coverings at all times with the exception of when you are actively consuming food or drink.
  • Wash your hands before serving and/or eating food.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items before and after use.
  • If serving any food or drink, consider identifying one person to serve all food or drink so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items (e.g. salad dressings, food containers, condiments) so that multiple people are not handling the items.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use to-go meal options, if available.
  • Use disposable food service items including utensils and dishes.

Students and employees are expected to adhere to the proper locations for eating indoors, and more formalized gatherings must adhere to the guidelines for eating and drinking at indoor gatherings.

Should I be concerned about the indoor air quality?

Addressing indoor air quality has been recommended as an additional strategy to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. All HVAC systems in campus buildings are filtered, and no buildings have “sealed air” construction. Through the fall semester we implemented new protocols for changing HVAC filters more frequently, using upgraded filters compatible with our HVAC systems and maximizing air exchanges to optimize the relative proportion of outside air. While opening windows can increase outside air, it also increases humidity, straining HVAC systems, and increasing pollen and mold spores, shortening the life of filters. “Medical grade” or HEPA filters are incompatible with HVAC systems on campus. We continue to review recommendations and adjust our maintenance practices accordingly.

What campus cleaning protocols have been enacted?

Facilities Services, Housing and Residence Life, and Dining Services have each developed enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols for common areas and high-touch surfaces including classrooms, labs, and offices, consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Should I have my own thermometer?

Students and employees are expected to provide their own digital thermometer for daily screening as outlined above.  In addition, the university has purchased stand alone, no-touch infrared thermometers that may be placed outside major pedestrian traffic venues such as the dining hall, student center, library and athletic facilities for routine screening purposes.

What indicators or metrics will Furman use to determine whether other contingencies will be employed throughout the semester (i.e. shelter in place, remote learning only, sending students home early)?

There are a number indicators that Furman uses in assessing the health of the campus and overall community.  Excepting an order from a governmental body (e.g., SC State Governor’s Office) or an inability to care for students or employees on campus or in our local health community (e.g., quarantine/isolation space or ready access to hospital resources), no single factor in isolation is used to make operational decisions. Factors that our clinical professionals and epidemiologists monitor daily include new cases in Greenville and surrounding counties, local and state trends in new infections, infection rate per 100,000 and associated trends, % positivity rate for daily testing (lower is better), regional hospital bed availability, and current hospitalizations, ICU and ventilator usage related to COVID statewide, (see https://www.scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 for daily reports).  Factors on campus that are considered include the total number and trends in active cases, results of surveillance monitoring including % positivity among students tested, the number of students evaluated and tested with COVID symptoms each week, the number of students in quarantine or isolation, and adherence to university protocols designed to mitigate viral spread (e.g, Paladin Promise).

Furman has developed a color-coded system to describe the university’s operational protocols. The operational phase is reviewed twice weekly by Furman’s Public Health and Safety Advisory Group, and is based on COVID-19 disease rates and quarantine/treatment capacities on campus and in the community. University leadership informs the campus community of any changes to the current phase.

How does Furman determine whether an individual has been “exposed” to another individual who is symptomatic or infected with COVID-19?

Furman’s contact tracing teams notify individuals who have had close contact with anyone testing positive. A close contact is defined as exposure within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour window, within 48 hours prior to symptom onset or a positive test.

This is why students are strongly encouraged to minimize the number of individuals whom they have close contact with on a daily basis, maintaining core social pods rather than closely engaging with large numbers of students on a daily basis.

What does “quarantine” mean for a student?

Students who meet the criteria for an exposure (see above) and who remain symptom free are required to quarantine for a minimum of 7 days from the time of most recent exposure, if they are able to produce a negative COVID test sampled between day 4 and 6 post-exposure. If no such test is produced, the minimum quarantine period will be 10 days.

It has been our experience during the fall semester that students are much more comfortable and able to focus on their studies if able to quarantine at home or in an alternative family location where they are able to effectively self-isolate. Understandably, not all students have such access, and are provided with campus housing space specifically allocated for quarantine.  Students in quarantine may not have contact with other individuals for at least 7 days from the time of most recent exposure to an individual testing positive for COVID-19.  All spaces have a private bathroom, and the Earle Student Health Center provides a daily check on students in quarantine. Meals are delivered by Dining Services, and students are able participate in their courses remotely, regardless of whether the course is designated as online in-person (hybrid flex).

Before the quarantined student returns to their housing assignment, the space is cleaned and disinfected by the university.

What does isolation mean for a student?

Students who are symptomatic for COVID-19 should not go to class or the Dining Hall, immediately shelter in place in their campus housing space and contact the Earle Student Health Center, accessible by phone 24 hours a day to provide guidance, and as appropriate, a medical order for a COVID test.  Symptomatic students shelter in place in their individual residences (meals delivered and course access provided online) until test results are returned, typically 24-36 hours.

Students identified as testing positive through on-campus surveillance monitoring are immediately notified by the Earl Student Health Center and Student Housing to begin the 10-day isolation protocol described below.

Students testing positive for COVID-19 unable to isolate at home are moved into allocated campus housing space.  Per CDC guidance, students in isolation are required to have no contact with other individuals for a period of 10 days from the time of symptom onset or the positive test sample was acquired (e.g., surveillance monitoring), assuming the individual has no fever (< 100.4 F) without taking fever-reducing medications for the most recent 72 hour period and improving symptoms (also 72 hours).  On-campus isolation spaces have a private bathroom.  The Earle Student Health Center provides daily virtual checks on all students in isolation.  Meals are delivered by Dining Services, and students are able participate in their courses remotely, regardless of whether the course is designated as online in-person (hybrid flex).

Students who isolate at home may return to campus following the protocol indicated above. After completing the initial isolation period, students who have tested positive are not required to participate in surveillance monitoring for a period of 90 days since the initial positive test as long as they remain asymptomatic. Before the isolated student returns to their housing assignment, the space is cleaned and disinfected by the university.

Will an individual who has already tested positive for COVID-19 have to be tested or quarantined if he/she comes into close contact with an individual testing positive?

Furman follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC-DHEC) and Prisma Health (our on-campus health provider). At the present time, guidance indicates that individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 and fully recovered are not required to re-test (e.g., participate in surveillance monitoring) for a period of 90 days since the initial positive test, as long as they remain asymptomatic. The Earle Student Health Center requires documentation of a prior positive test for any student who claims this exemption.

What is the status of the vaccine distribution in South Carolina? Does being vaccinated change any of the expectations for students and employees?

More information will be made available as the semester progresses about access to COVID vaccinations. In the meantime, students and employees who receive the vaccine are still expected to abide by the Paladin Promise and participate in surveillance testing. The reason for this is because it will take time for the vaccine to take effect and it is still unknown whether those who are vaccinated can still be carriers of the virus, and thus spreaders of it. The Earle Student Health Center will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a vaccinated student must quarantine as a close contact.

A limited number of Furman students and employees may have or will soon receive the vaccine as a result of potential exposures relating to their work in a healthcare capacity. Phase 1A has been focused on front-line healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities for example, and those 70 years of age or older. As we currently understand the rollout in South Carolina, Phase 1B will include front-line essential workers and employees working in the education sector including higher education teachers and support staff as defined by SC DHEC.

No decision has been made yet about whether Furman will require students and/or employees to be vaccinated.  A committee is exploring this issue currently.

The university will closely monitor the evolving circumstances related to COVID-19, along with rapidly developing scientific knowledge and medical resources, to determine the appropriateness for adjustments and contingencies. For general questions about the spring semester, please email furman.focused@furman.edu