WFU updates COVID policies for Spring 2022

Campus-wide booster shot requirement allows classes to begin on time and in person.

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Katie Fox

Continued indoor mask mandates, a new visitor policy and modified quarantine and isolation periods are among the updated COVID-19 policies for the Spring 2022 semester.

Christa Dutton, News Editor

 As the Omicron variant sweeps the nation and COVID-19 cases reach their highest peaks since the pandemic’s inception, Wake Forest has updated its protocols for the Spring 2022 semester so that classes can begin on time.

On Dec. 29, an email regarding updated COVID-19 policies was sent to the Wake Forest student body, faculty and staff on behalf of Provost Rogan Kersh and Executive Vice President Hof Milam. The email stated that students would be welcomed back to campus on time and will begin classes in person in large part due to the campus-wide booster shot requirement. 

The university has seen great cooperation from students regarding vaccinations. Currently, 92% of students have received a booster shot. 

“Public health guidance tells us that the booster and mask compliance are our two best defenses against COVID in general and the Omicron variant that is circulating right now,” Milam said. 

He continued: “But as students return from around the world, many from ‘hot spot’ regions, we, of course, anticipate a small uptick in cases.” 

To prevent this uptick in cases as best as possible, additional protocols have been set in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. These protocols include a continuation of indoor masking, a new visitor policy and updated isolation and quarantine guidelines. 

The university will continue to follow Winston-Salem’s city-wide indoor mask mandate and require face masks to be worn in all indoor spaces. Increased efforts will be made this semester to enforce the mask mandate in buildings on campus. 

“We are asking building owners to be more intentional on mask compliance this semester,” Milam said. “Students should anticipate addi- tional signage and proactive reminders, and spaces like the library and Green Room in Reynolda Hall, where students sit for long periods of time, are especially subject to mask compliance enforcement.”

At the time, administration does not anticipate enforcing any gathering size limits. The Division of Campus Life will work directly with student organizations to determine how to hold events as safely as possible.

However, any visitors planning to at- tend indoor events at Reynolda Campus must provide proof of vaccination with booster shot or a negative test before attending the event. Additionally, during campus events, food and drink must be served outside to avoid having to remove masks.

The university will also alter its isolation and quarantine protocols in re- response to the new CDC recommendation that reduced the isolation time for vaccinated persons who test positive for COVID-19. Isolation rooms will be provided for students who live on campus who test positive and for students with a vaccination exemption who test positive or have been exposed.

The university has 48 rooms at Deacon Station set aside specifically for quarantine and isolation use and has leased additional hotel rooms on a short-term basis in the event there is a rapid increase in cases as students return to campus.

The pandemic continues to impact countries all over the world in different ways. International students and study-abroad programs may be affected by changes in public health conditions. The Center for Global Programs and Studies and the International Student and Scholar Services will communicate, as necessary, with students and faculty traveling to or from other countries.

In addition to laying out the updated protocols, the university-wide message also contained some recommendations for students, faculty and staff. The university strongly recommended getting tested before arriving to campus as the university is unable to offer pre-arrival testing.

Undergraduate and graduate students must report a positive test result to Student Health Services and faculty and staff must report to the Faculty/Staff Clinic.

The university anticipates that these protocols will remain in effect through January. Administration is in regular contact with public health experts, specifically regarding the risks of the Omicron variant, but remains confident that the requirement of the booster shot will significantly contribute to the ability of campus to remain open and operate as normally as possible.

“We continue to closely monitor public health conditions on campus, in the county and in the state,” Provost Kersh said.

He continued: “But I’m feeling cautiously hopeful about the semester ahead.”