AUC Consortium Announces COVID-19 Protocols in Light of Omicron Variant

Presidents of the member institutions of the AUCC announce that COVID-19 vaccination booster shots will be required of all eligible staff, faculty, and students for Spring Semester 2022. The deadline for compliance with this requirement is February 6, 2022. The AUCC has been at the vanguard protecting the health and wellness of our campus community. This leadership manifests outstanding successes with some of the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates and highest vaccination rates of any college campus in the nation. In recent days, communities across the nation have seen significant increases in COVID-19 cases because of the spread of the Omicron variant. The AUCC has been monitoring the latest data and consulting with the Morehouse School of Medicine and public health experts and epidemiologists to understand the trajectory of the virus. Careful consultation and review of these data demands that steps must be taken to prepare for a potential surge of cases in January. Recognizing the high level of concern about the Omicron variant and its potential impact on spring semester operations, protocols to mitigate community spread are necessary.

We summarize below our plan for the start of the AUCC’s 2022 spring semester. As always, decision-making is designed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our campus community and sustain the educational missions that define our colleges.

BOOSTER SHOTS

The AUCC REQUIRES that all eligible persons get a booster against COVID-19 virus shot for Spring term 2022. The deadline for submitting proof of vaccination booster is February 6, 2022. Although COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggest vaccination becomes less effective over time, especially in people aged 65 years and older and at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.

  • To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, call404-752-1000 (employees) or (404) 756-1241 (students).
  • Vaccination Locations: Morehouse Healthcare – 455 Lee Street SW, 2ndFloor Atlanta, GA 30310 (employees) or AUCC Student Health and Wellness Center 455 Lee Street SW, 3rd Floor Atlanta, GA 30310 (students).

TESTING

We are implementing a PRE-ARRIVAL testing protocol. All faculty, staff, and students must register at our secure website www.getcovidsafe.com to receive a home PCR test kit (saliva-based). Everyone needs to provide insurance information (you will not be billed or pay any co-payments or deductibles). Detailed instructions will be received with each test kit. If you have any questions or problems creating your profile, registering, or submitting your saliva sample, a dedicated toll-free number is provided. You must present a negative COVID test BEFORE starting work, moving into residence halls, or starting in-person classes. Read a list of FAQ here.

All faculty, staff, and students will need to submit to weekly Antigen (rapid) COVID-19 testing protocols on the campuses of the AUCC.

All faculty, staff, and students who are randomly selected for weekly PCR testing are required to get the PCR test.

COMMUTER STUDENTS

Commuter students must adhere to these testing protocols. Commuter students must complete the at-home saliva-based PCR test (PRE-ARRIVAL information above). You are encouraged to drop off your sample on your home campus in the designated collection box or you may use the return mailer that comes with the kit. Commuter students must come to the home campus on the assigned day to receive the weekly rapid antigen test. You may also be randomly selected to receive a PCR test during a particular week in the semester. You must come to the home campus to receive this test on the assigned day. If there is an unavoidable conflict, please let your campus health officials know so that you can be scheduled on a day that does not conflict.

RESIDENTIAL STUDENTS

Residential students must adhere to the testing protocols. Residential students must complete the at-home saliva-based PCR test (PRE-ARRIVAL information above). You should complete the registration in time to receive your kit and return your sample using the return mailer that comes with the kit. Your results should be received no earlier than 3 days prior to your scheduled move-in date. You must have a negative result to return to your on-campus residence. (If you are in the metro-Atlanta area, you are encouraged to drop off your sample on your home campus in the designated collection box). Residential students will be assigned by the home campus appropriate days and times to receive the rapid antigen test. You may also be randomly selected to receive a PCR test during a particular week in the semester. You will receive this test on the assigned day and time on your home campus. If there is an unavoidable conflict, please let your campus health officials know so that you can be scheduled on a day that does not conflict.

DELAYED IN-PERSON CLASSES

We will begin undergraduate classes as scheduled on January 12, 2022 with REMOTE instruction for ALL classes through January 29. We plan to resume in-person courses and normal campus activities on Monday, January 31, 2022. Provosts of each of the undergraduate-serving campuses have communicated that faculty should be prepared to switch to remote instruction. Each faculty member will notify registered students through standard campus notification and it will be posted on each institution’s website. Classes held in virtual formats online will return to in-person classes on January 31, 2022. More detailed information will follow in the coming weeks from each of your campuses. Students in graduate and professional programs will receive additional guidance from their programs. These measures are designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus during the early return to campus when the spread will potentially be most active.

RESIDENTIAL MOVE-IN PROCESSES

Each campus is implementing move-in processes specific to each campus’ needs. Each campus will communicate its student residence move-in process.

ONGOING MITIGATION MEASURES

Today, we have strong tools in our arsenals to help protect the health, safety, and well-being of ourselves and our campus community. Chief among these tools are highly effective vaccines. These vaccines are effective in reducing the amount of serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19. We will continue to enforce our testing (including our PRE-ARRIVAL protocol), masking, and vaccination guidelines, along with our new booster requirement. And, please continue to practice good hand-washing hygiene and other common-sense practices.

In the weeks ahead, the AUCC will continue to assess the evolving context and communicate to you about it. The fluid nature of this pandemic has made change commonplace. Note that we may need to change our guidance based upon input from our medical scientists and health experts. We are grateful for the patience, resilience, and flexibility of every member of our community as we face unpredictable circumstances together.

We wish you peace, blessings, and good will in the New Year. We look forward to seeing all of you in the spring semester.

1 thought on “AUC Consortium Announces COVID-19 Protocols in Light of Omicron Variant”

  1. I was inmoment? By my daughter that students can’t receive their class schedules until they are fully vaccinated is that correct considering they are learning remotely at the moment??

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