COVID-19 updates for spring semester

Jan. 13, 2021

Dear faculty and staff,

In advance of the spring semester, we have some updated COVID-19 protocols to share with you.

As with all things COVID-19, the landscape shifts quickly, and so we recognize that subsequent updates may be necessary. We are aware of the emergence of new variant strains of the virus, and will continue to monitor public health recommendations related to them. Currently, the Wisconsin Department of Public Health (WI DPH) indicates that new strains may result in higher rates of transmission but do not appear to cause more severe outcomes.

You will soon be cc’d on an email to our students. Below are highlights for your attention:

  • Protocols. All general safety protocols on campus remain in place including masking, physical distancing, hand washing and enhanced cleaning. Those protocols remain our most valuable tools for preventing the spread of the virus. Health care and public health professionals continue to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces and washing hands frequently. These are our best tools for preventing the spread of this virus, no matter the strain.
  • Staffing. Campus departments are expected to be open and staffed with the start of classes on Feb. 1. Schedule adjustments, including working from home where possible, are encouraged to minimize workplace interactions that may spread the virus.
  • Entry testing for students. Due to the higher risk associated with congregate living, and the potential for high risk activity amongst residential students, all students living in college housing will be required to submit evidence of a negative COVID-19 test dated Jan. 19, 2021 or later or a positive COVID-19 test (with completed isolation period and symptom improvement) dated Nov. 1, 2020 or later.
  • Expanded surveillance testing. We are increasing our surveillance testing plan for spring. In addition to student-athletes, we are adding weekly testing of students sampled from the residential student population, because congregate living presents a higher risk of spread. The initial amount of surveillance testing being conducted fits the capacity of SNC staff to conduct testing. If conditions change and additional surveillance testing is required, other options will be explored. Surveillance test results (number of tests administered and outcome) will be added to COVID-19 dashboard and reported out on a weekly basis.
  • Expanded testing for students. During the fall semester, students observing quarantine or isolation at the Tundra Lodge were tested at local community sites. This semester, the college will provide testing to students who are quarantining or isolating at both Kress Inn and Tundra Lodge.
  • New quarantine guidelines. We have taken into account the new CDC, state, county and city guidance around quarantine for close contacts and while the CDC has indicated it is possible to leave quarantine after day seven with a confirmed negative test, Brown County and De Pere Health Departments have categorized this strategy as the highest risk option. After analyzing fall student conversion data from those in quarantine to COVID-positive, and in consultation with the City of De Pere Health Department, we are reducing the length of quarantine from fourteen days to ten days. Employees must complete a minimum of ten days of quarantine and be symptom free before returning to work on campus. Students must complete ten days, be asymptomatic and have a negative exit test. The reason for this added measure with our students is because of their higher level of interaction, for instance in congregate settings such as residence halls.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations. The college is an approved COVID-19 vaccination site for members of the SNC community. Prioritization of vaccine recipients is made in accordance with WI DHS guidelines, which are informed by CDC guidelines. In any cases where application of the guidelines for our campus constituents is unclear, the director of Health Services consults with the De Pere Health Department. At this time, vaccines will be optional, not required.
Our phased operational plan is currently being reviewed for adaptations in specific areas. We will continue to monitor this situation on the local, state and national levels, and update you with any pertinent information closer to the beginning of the semester.

Save the date!
Lastly, there will be an open forum for faculty and staff on Friday, Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. Make plans to join for the most current updates related COVID-19 and for an opportunity to ask questions about the college’s COVID-19 protocols.

If you have questions in the meantime, please reach out to your division’s vice president or send an email to covid19response@snc.edu. Any emails received will be routed to the person or department best able to respond.