COVID Operating Guidelines

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.