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Variant cases influence updated COVID guidelines

February 8, 2022

As we strive for a safe return to campus, COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket. On Dec. 1, 2021, the new Omicron variant was identified in the United States. Since then, cases have shot up drastically. In just over a month, the U.S. hit a shattering record of 1.4 million COVID cases in 24 hours on Jan. 10. As cases are slowly declining from our winter-break spike, it’s crucial to stay updated on our campus’s COVID regulations. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that being up to date on vaccinations means a person has received all recommended COVID vaccines, including the booster doses. To receive a booster dose, one must be fully vaccinated by their primary doses of COVID vaccines. Vaccinations and boosters are strongly encouraged by the university.

Free vaccines and booster doses will be available in the month of February on campus. The next vaccine and booster clinic will be held on Wednesday Feb. 23, and will be available from noon to 4 p.m. in room 232 of the University Center. On Wednesday Feb. 16, they’ll be available at the same time in the Falcon’s Nest at the University Center. Appointments are not needed for these events.

During our vaccination events, first, second and booster doses will be available. Students are responsible for bringing their vaccination cards if they’re receiving a second or booster dose. First-dose participants may be responsible for scheduling their second dose at another location. 

Boosters will be given to those who have received their first two rounds of vaccinations five months prior for both Pfizer and Moderna. Those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination may follow through with their boosters two months after their first dose. For more information on vaccinations and locations, check the Vaccine FAQ’s on the Falcons Forward website. 

Testing obligations for UW-River Falls have been updated. All unvaccinated students and employees have one required testing obligation during the first week of classes. In the spring update posted by Chancellor Gallo, any student or staff member on campus with symptoms or a known exposure is expected to be tested immediately regardless of their vaccination status. 

Like last semester, testing in Hagestad is quick and easy. Testing is open in Hagestad Hall Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. An appointment can be scheduled online on the main page of our Falcons Forward website. It takes about one or two minutes to make the appointment, and it can be canceled up to an hour before the scheduled test time. With a quick five-second swab in each nostril, the test itself takes less than 30 seconds from start to finish. Results come in about 15 minutes. 

At-home tests are not permissible for those who must reach campus testing requirements. They are not satisfactory when it comes to proof of belonging. Vault COVID tests are allowed, as they must be administered in front of a medical professional over Zoom. 

If an unvaccinated student is exposed to COVID, they are expected to be tested immediately after exposure, and again five to seven days after results. After exposure, they are expected to quarantine for at least five full days.

If a vaccinated individual is exposed, they do not need to quarantine, but testing is recommended three to five days after exposure.

If a student’s COVID test comes back positive, they will first have a brief meeting with a contact tracer. Then, they will be required to return home and self-isolate. Following the CDC’s current guidelines, people who test positive for COVID must isolate themselves for five days. Day zero is the day symptoms begin, or the day a test returns positive. After five days, isolation is complete unless there are remaining symptoms such as a fever. Following your return, post-positive students must take extra precautions to social-distance and correctly wear their masks. 

Face coverings are now required in all indoor spaces even with social distancing. The university is recommending that students upgrade to better masks like the N95, KN95, or KF94. N95 masks are available for free at the information desk in the University Center, and 254 Rodli Hall. There is a limited amount of masks available to us at the moment, so they are first come, first served. Upgraded masks are also available at most federal pharmacies upon request. 

A reminder to all staff and students: masks are only effective when worn properly. They must cover both the mouth and nose. 

As cases rise and fall, there will be times when some classes may have outbreaks. In this case, professors may temporarily deliver class online. Under these circumstances, class will not be online for more than two weeks. Students will be notified by their instructors via Canvas or email if class will be online. 

If any questions remain regarding COVID-19, visit the Falcons Forward website or reach out to covid-19@uwrf.edu. 

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