COVID & Monkeypox Operating Guidelines

August 16, 2022 

For the Fall 2022 semester, this is the most current information related to the COVID-19 and Monkeypox viruses. Most importantly, to reduce transmission of these and other viruses and bacteria, always remember to maintain effective hygiene practices. Regular handwashing with soap is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.  

As we begin the Fall semester, we want to ensure that you have current information related to the COVID-19 and Monkeypox viruses. Most importantly, to reduce transmission of these and other viruses and bacteria, always remember to maintain effective hygiene practices. Regular handwashing with soap is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.   

Students should utilize the Student Health Center for health care needs. If you are unable to go to the Student Health Center, you should seek the care of another medical provider.  

Employees should seek the care of their medical provider.   

COVID-19 Recent Guidance The CDC updated COVID guidance on August 11, 2022 to include the following: 

  • If you are exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, you no longer need to quarantine. You should wear a high-quality mask (N95) for 10 days and monitor your symptoms. 
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate for 5 days if the symptoms are mild. Isolate for 10 days if symptoms are severe. Get tested. Testing is encouraged again 5 full days after exposure.  
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate for 5 days and wear a high-quality mask (N95) for 5 additional days. Isolation begins on the day after symptoms developed or after testing positive if you do not have symptoms.  
  • If you receive a negative COVID-19 test, you may return to school/work activity.  

The University System of Georgia (USG) continues to recognize that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters offer safe, effective protection and urges all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to get vaccinated and/or get their booster either on campus or with another health care provider.  

COVID-19 vaccines help your body develop protection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Although vaccinated people may still get infected with the virus, staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines significantly lowers the risk of getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible get a booster and stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine, especially people with weakened immune systems.  

COVID-19 vaccines are available and in good supply at the Student Health Center. Use this link to schedule an appointment at the Student Health Center: https://tinyurl.com/COVIDVACVSU.  

Reporting COVID Positive Diagnosis and Absence from School or Work 

You should continue to report a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 in the MyVSU portal.  

 

Students will be contacted by a member of the student health staff to discuss diagnosis and symptoms and will advise the student on next steps. Student Health will also send an absentee notice to faculty on the student’s behalf with the expected date of return.  

Employees should follow the CDC guidance as listed above and must immediately report the need to be absent from work to their direct supervisor. This should be done via the procedures established by the employees’ department. A doctor’s note may be requested or required.  

Valdosta State University will not be posting COVID-19 numbers publicly on its website. 

Monkeypox Update 

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) continues to closely monitor the current outbreak of monkeypox in the state. Testing and vaccination are available in health districts throughout the state; however, vaccine supplies from the federal government remain limited.  

The monkeypox virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It can also be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact. More than 90% of people recently infected with monkeypox report having close, sustained physical contact with other people who have monkeypox. 

The risk of contracting monkeypox is based on exposure – an individual must be exposed to enough virus to become infected. What is currently known about monkeypox transmission indicates that sharing bedding or towels with someone who is infected with monkeypox would carry more risk than passing encounters with money or a door handle or other environmental surfaces. Most non-healthcare settings where people congregate such as schools, workplaces, grocery stores, gas stations, or public transportation are not considered high risk settings for monkeypox transmission.  

It is important to remember that monkeypox is not transmitted like COVID and typically takes skin-to-skin or other close contact to transmit. There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting monkeypox:  

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. 
  • Do not touch a rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox. 
  • Avoid being intimate with someone with monkeypox. 
  • Avoid objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.  
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.  
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.  

What to do if you suspect you have symptoms of monkeypox 

  • Symptoms of monkeypox can include a rash or sores, and often occur after flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.  
  • If you have a new or unexplained rash, sores, or other symptoms of monkeypox, see a healthcare provider for medical attention and evaluation. 
  • While you have symptoms, avoid close or intimate contact with others.  

Watch CDC’s Dr. Demetre Daskalakis share 5 Things You Should Know about Monkeypox 

For more information on monkeypox, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/monkeypox or https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html.  

ALL GUIDANCE LISTED HERE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE BASED ON RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE DPH, CDC AND THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA. VALDOSTA STATE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ADJUST PLANS, AS NECESSARY.  


Updated Guidance on March 11, 2022

The University System of Georgia (USG) continues to recognize COVID-19 vaccines and boosters offer safe, effective protection and urges all students, faculty, staff and visitors to get vaccinated and/or boosted either on campus or with a local provider. As USG works closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the health and safety of campus communities, the system encourages people to wear masks based on their preference and assessment of personal risk.


More Information on Isolation and Quarantine on January 13, 2022

Testing Update: Many local testing sites have seen an increased demand for COVID tests. As a result, SGMC and the Health Department are prioritizing the use of rapid tests for those individuals who show symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed or if you test positive for COVID-19, follow the guidance below for when to stay home. If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested! Employees can see other testing locations in Lowndes County here, and VSU students can get tested at the Student Health Center on campus. Here is information about that.

Self-Report Exposure or Receiving a Positive COVID Diagnosis: You must immediately self-report having been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive or if you have personally received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Please log into your MyVSU web portal and click the COVID Self Reporting link at the top to make a report.  

When to Stay Home: Those who are fully vaccinated or have had COVID in the past 90 days DO NOT HAVE TO STAY HOME if they have an exposure, as long as they do not have any symptoms. They need to wear their mask around others and can attend school or work unless they develop symptoms.

Quarantine = If you were exposed by being in contact with someone positive for COVID-19, in a way that increased your likelihood of getting infected with the virus. 

Isolation = If you are sick or tested positive 

Calculating Quarantine ​

Day 0 = the day you were exposed 

Day 1 = the first full day after your last contact with COVID-19 positive person. 

If YOU were exposed to COVID-19 and are NOT up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations 

Quarantine for at least 5 days  

Stay home and quarantine for at least 5 full days.   

Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home. 

After quarantine  

Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

Take precautions until day 10  

Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.   

Avoid travel  

Avoid being around people who are high risk. 

If YOU were exposed to COVID-19 and ARE up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations 

No quarantineYou do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms. 

Watch for symptomsWatch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

If you develop symptomsIsolate immediately and get tested. Continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others. 

 

Take precautions until day 10 

Wear a maskWear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask. 

Avoid travel 

Avoid being around people who are at high risk 

 

If YOU were exposed to COVID-19 and have been diagnosed COVID-19 positive in the past 90 days 

No quarantineYou do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms. 

Watch for symptomsWatch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

 If you develop symptomsIsolate immediately and get tested. Continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others. 

 

Take precautions until day 10 

Wear a maskWear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask. 

Avoid travel 

Avoid being around people who are at high risk 

 

 


Calculating Isolation 

Day 0 = is your first day of symptoms or a positive viral test 

Day 1 = the first full day after your symptoms developed or your COVID-19 test was taken. 

If YOU tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms regardless of vaccination status 

Stay home for at least 5 daysStay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home. 

Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home. 

 

Ending isolation if you had symptomsEnd isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving. 

Ending isolation if you did NOT have symptomsEnd isolation after at least 5 full days after your positive test. 

If you were severely ill with COVID-19You should isolate for at least 10 days. Consult your doctor before ending isolation. 

 

Take precautions until day 10 

Wear a mask Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask. 

Avoid travel 

Avoid being around people who are at high risk 

Vaccination Definitions 

Fully Vaccinated: those who have received their booster shot or completed the primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 5 months or completed the primary series of the J&J vaccine within the last two months. 

Unvaccinated: if it has been more than 5 months since your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, if it has been more than 2 months since your J&J vaccine, or if you have received no vaccinations at all. 

Please email communications@valdosta.edu if you have any questions.


Updated COVID-19 Guidance as of January 5, 2022

The University System of Georgia (USG) continues to follow COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recently, the CDC updated its guidance for isolation and quarantine time. You can see those updates below. 

Safety Protocols

Classes at VSU will resume as planned on Monday, January 10th. Given the growth of the Omicron Variant, the University System of Georgia (USG) is recommending all employees and students get tested before arriving back on campus, if possible, and follow the recommended protocols if test results are positive.

The USG also continues to strongly encourage masks in all campus buildings. Hand sanitizer remains readily available. The Student Health Center is still conducting COVID-19 testing for all students during normal business hours with no appointment needed, and vaccinations are available there as well for all students, employees, alumni, retirees, friends, and family. With the many variants, we urge you to get vaccinated if you have not already. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others.

If it has been more than 6 months since your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you will be considered as unvaccinated in the event of an exposure.
If it has been more than 2 months since your J&J vaccine, you will be considered as unvaccinated in the event of an exposure.

Click here to schedule your vaccination appointment. 

Isolation Changes

Recently, the CDC updated its guidance regarding isolation, and the USG is following that recommendation. For those who test positive, they should isolate for 5 days, and if the symptoms are improving and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours and haven’t used a fever-reducing medication, they can leave isolation after 5 days, but they should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for an additional 5 days to minimize potential transmission. 

Quarantine Changes

The USG is also following the CDC‘s updated guidance regarding quarantine. Those exposed who are unvaccinated or are vaccinated but not fully boosted should quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Those who have received their booster shot or completed the primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months or completed the primary series of the J&J vaccine within the last two months DO NOT need to quarantine following an exposure, but they should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For anyone exposed, the CDC says best practice would also include getting tested at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately remain at home until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19. You can read more about the updated CDC guidance here

Reporting Cases

VSU will resume the posting of positive COVID numbers once the Spring 2022 semester begins and an accurate total is available. Students and employees should continue to self-report COVID+ diagnosis and close contact with persons diagnosed positive through MyVSU. Please see the image below on where the self-report tab is located within MyVSU.

 How to Self-Report a COVID Case or Exposure in MyVSU

VSU’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to meet this semester as needed. If you have a concern you would like the Task Force to consider, you can email it to communications@valdosta.edu.


General Covid-19 Update as of July 30, 2021

The University System of Georgia recognizes COVID-19 vaccines offer safe, effective protection and urges all students, faculty, staff and visitors to get vaccinated either on campus or with a local provider. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities. The system continues to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the health and safety of our campus communities.

COVID-19 Related Leave

COVID-19-specific leave for isolation and quarantine is no longer available. 

  • Employees who must isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 illness or exposure may telework during this time with the approval of their supervisor. The nature of their position influences whether an employee is able to telework, since some positions are not able to be performed remotely.

               o Any change in modality for a class requires the approval of the Provost’s office. Change in modality is subject to an end date and is correlated to isolation or quarantine timelines.

               o Department chairs will make arrangements for class coverage when faculty are unable to teach due to illness.

               o Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine. 

  • When telework is not possible, employees who must isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 must use their accumulated leave to be away from work.

Reminder:  No institution may change the overall modality of their instruction.  

Employees may continue to use COVID-19 Vaccine leave in order to receive the vaccine and if they experience side effects from receiving the vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine leave is not permanent leave and may conclude as early as August 29, 2021 at the end of the State of Emergency for Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery declared in the Governor’s Executive Order No. 06.30.21.01. We encourage employees who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to do so and to use this leave while it is available. An employee may take up to eight (8) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, an employee may also take up to sixteen (16) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave if he or she receives a COVID-19 vaccine and experiences severe negative side effects that prohibit the performance of their duties of employment.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing, Quarantine, and Isolation

Contact Tracing
Institutions should continue to follow their existing practices related to contact tracing/notification.  Only designated individuals on a campus may engage in contact tracing/contact notification.

Quarantine and Isolation
The expectations for quarantine and isolation remain the same and are in alignment with DPH Guidelines. Faculty should be prepared to accommodate students who are required to go into quarantine or isolation. 

Quarantine
Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic, but they should follow basic prevention measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and washing hands frequently. 

 Description of quarantine protocols from the USG

Isolation
Isolation is for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.  Please see the DPH website for expectations for isolation.  


Fall Semester 2021 Guidance from the University System of Georgia

  • All faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • No student, faculty or staff member should be treated differently based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.
  • Students should not be asked about their vaccine status and segregated in a classroom or from other instructor-student interactions (e.g., office hours, group work, field trips, labs, etc.) based on their vaccination status.
  • Vaccination status can be used to determine whether or not a person should quarantine after a close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Masks/face coverings are not required on campus. Two exceptions may apply on campuses – health center/medical facility and public transit. Un-vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a mask or face covering.
  • Institutions will return to campus in the fall with no social distancing measures. Un-vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue social distancing whenever possible.


Students in Experiential/Clinical Placements
Students may be required by off-campus partnering organizations to wear masks and/or be vaccinated as a condition of participation in experiential learning opportunities such as study abroad programs, externships and delivery of medical services.

Health Centers/Medical Personnel
Medical providers may use a patient’s COVID-19 vaccination status as they would normally under the typical standard of care. Consistent with the normal standard of care, medical providers may ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination in treating patients.

Contact Tracing/Contact Notification
In the context of contact notification/contact tracing, personnel conducting the notification may ask a person’s vaccination status and may ask for proof of vaccination; however, proof is not required.

Accommodations
Approval of all COVID-19 related accommodations and flexible work arrangements (including telework) expired June 30, 2021. Requests for ADA accommodations or flexible work arrangements will be reviewed in accordance with the pre-pandemic ADA accommodations or Telework/Flextime policies.

Students who need accommodations for their classes should contact their Disability Resource/Services Center.

Cleaning and Disinfecting After a Positive Case
Please see the most recent guidance related to cleaning and disinfecting facilities/areas after a person tests positive for COVID-19. Click here for details. 


Summer 2021 Guidance from the University System of Georgia

As you know, COVID restrictions are steadily evolving as more individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccines. In light of these changes, we have now received additional guidance from the USG regarding Summer and Fall operations. Please note that in some cases, this guidance may be different than what was initially planned by your department or college. However, VSU will be making the following changes.

FACE COVERINGS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

Effective immediately, masks and social distance protocols are no longer required within VSU buildings. Fully vaccinated individuals may resume classes and other campus activities without a face covering or the need to social distance, if they so choose. 

Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Until fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving the last vaccine dose), such individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a face covering, and to continue socially distancing from others when possible. Vaccines remain available for all members of the university community from Student Health Services. 

Please note that VSU will not be tracking vaccinations for the greater university community.  Therefore, adherence to this guidance is based on personal responsibility. Some subgroups of our community (such as student athletes, student health professionals, student teachers, etc.) may be subject to vaccination reporting at the direction of an affiliated organization. 

ALTERNATE WORK ARRANGEMENTS (EMPLOYEES)

Alternate Work Arrangements (AWA) or accommodations granted to employees for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All employees are expected to return to their previous work arrangement at that time. Current summer teaching assignments are excluded from this transition deadline and arrangements for teaching assignments will end August 1. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for continuing an AWA or accommodation.

***Please note that qualified individuals with a disability can submit requests for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) work accommodations through the Office of Human Resources. 

ALTERNATE EDUCATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS (STUDENTS)

Alternate Educational Arrangement (AEA) or accommodations granted to students for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All students are expected to return to their traditional educational arrangement beginning with the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for continuing an AEA or accommodation.

***Please note that qualified individuals with a disability can submit requests for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) academic accommodations through the Access Office.  

TELEWORK

With limited exceptions, employees with current COVID-19 related telework assignments should begin transitioning back to their pre-COVID-19 work arrangements and all such arrangements will end no later than June 30, 2021. Pursuant to policy, Directors, Department Chair, or other management staff may recommend teleworking arrangements on job classifications/positions that have been designated as eligible for telework. In no circumstance should telework be considered an employee right or entitlement. All telework requests and designations are based upon management discretion and in accordance with a determination of what best serves the institution and students. VSU requires that telework arrangements be approved by the appropriate Cabinet member and documented with Human Resources. 

VACCINES

VSU will continue to ensure vaccine availability to faculty, staff, and students either through vaccination opportunities on campus or in partnership with a local provider. VSU will not assess COVID-19 vaccination rates for the institution.

The Student Health Center remains open during the summer and available to offer COVID testing and vaccination services to all employees and students. For COVID Vaccines, please use the link below to schedule an appointment or call 229-333-5886.

https://tinyurl.com/COVIDVACVSU.

QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION

Students, faculty, and staff who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the virus and show no symptoms. Individuals who have not yet been fully vaccinated and who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, show symptoms, or anyone diagnosed as COVID-19 positive should continue to self-report in the MyVSU Portal. 

STUDENT ACTIVITIES AND ENGAGEMENT

VSU will resume traditional student life activities beginning Fall 2021. The recommended mitigation practices by the Georgia Department of Public Health should be practiced and observed during these activities and within the physical spaces these activities take place. 

EVENTS AND GATHERINGS

VSU will follow the most recent Executive Order from the Governor related to events and gatherings as well as follow appropriate mitigation practices recommended by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Event reservation policies will include additional mitigation guidelines as needed. 

TRAVEL

VSU will follow the state government position on travel. As of May 2021, travel is limited to essential travel as approved by the appropriate Cabinet member. 

ATHLETICS

VSU will continue to follow NCAA and Gulf South Conference guidelines for COVID-19. 

All guidance listed here is subject to change based on recommendations from the Georgia Department of Public Health. VSU reserves the right to adjust plans as necessary.