Are masks required while on campus this fall?
Yes, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), all persons on campus, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face masks in all public indoor settings in all university facilities. Face masks must meet or exceed the standards outlined by the US Centers for Disease Control.
With this requirement, masks must be worn:
- Inside classrooms and classroom buildings, regardless of distancing
- In personal meeting spaces, such as meetings with faculty and advisors
- When gathering in common spaces, such as such as the Caf, Reid Chapel, Pete Hanna Center, Leslie S. Wright Center, University Library, University Center (UC), and the common areas of residence halls.
- When riding on the SamTram
- When alone in offices and private workspaces
- In residence hall rooms
- While actively eating or drinking
- While exercising
Requirements for Fall 2021
What are the student requirements for the fall semester?
As explained in the Aug. 6, 2021 COVID-19 Update, all students are required to complete the following three tasks in order to access campus for the Fall 2021 semester, attend classes, access university technology, or participate in Samford related activities:
- Electronically sign the Student Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk.* (If you are under the age of 19, please see the note below.)
- Respond to the university’s Vaccination Response Form and upload verification if you choose.
- Within seven days prior to returning to campus, submit a negative PCR test result. Please follow the instructions contained in our July 27, 2021 email, “Required Reentry Baseline Testing.” All PCR baseline test results can be uploaded at samford.edu/go/UploadResults.
Please note that missing class due to incomplete reentry requirements will result in unexcused absences.
Remember you can confirm whether you’re deemed to be cleared to access campus using the “Check My COVID-19 Status” feature on the university portal.
*Note: All students are required to complete the Student Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk form. Students under the age of 19 must also have a parent signature on the form. If you are under the age of 19, you should sign the form and provide the email address of the parent who will sign the form. The parent will receive an email, then must create an account, and sign the Student Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk form. For students under the age of 19, both signatures are required before the form will be complete.
What are the employee requirements for the fall semester?
All employees are required to complete the following three tasks prior to Aug. 28, 2021:
- Electronically sign the Employee Return to Campus Acknowledgement 2021-22 Form
- Respond to the university’s Vaccination Response Form and upload verification if you choose. Employees are required to complete and submit this form, even if they previously notified the university of their vaccination status in Spring 2021.
- Submit Baseline Reentry Testing: Please follow the detailed instructions provided in the Aug. 6, 2021 COVID-19 Update to submit a negative PCR baseline test result.
If you’ve not already completed these tasks, now is the time to do so! Remember you can confirm whether you’re deemed to be cleared for the fall semester using the “Check My COVID-19 Status” feature on the university portal.
What is Samford’s position on the COVID-19 vaccination?
Samford strongly encourages vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The vaccine helps protect you from getting COVID-19 and may prevent serious illness if you get infected once you're vaccinated. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect your family, friends and the Samford community.
We encourage unvaccinated employees and students, in consultation with their personal health professionals, to receive the vaccine this summer in order to be fully vaccinated before coming to campus in August. This means acting now if you have not done so already. International, national, state and local health organizations remain steadfast in their opinion that vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States are safe and have proven effective, even against the new Delta variant. While Samford strongly encourages vaccination, it does not require it.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the US use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, remember that it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. This means that it is possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination.
If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated even if you’ve already had COVID-19.
How is the university handling vaccinated persons?
The university follows state law, local health orders and CDC guidelines for vaccinated persons. Those who choose to provide verification of vaccination have suspended sentinel testing requirements; face reduced or eliminated isolation and quarantine requirements; and do not need to maintain distancing from other persons.
If I am vaccinated, am I still subject to the university's COVID-19 random sentinel testing requirements?
Consistent with CDC guidance, the university is presently suspending random sentinel testing requirements for individuals who verify their vaccination status by uploading it to the university’s Vaccination Response Form. In the event of updated CDC guidance, a substantial increase in cases on or around campus, new state or local laws, or in response to identified clusters with the potential for breakout infections, the university may reinstate random sentinel testing for all persons or to require participation in narrowly targeted focus testing.
Why does the university ask employees and students to identify their vaccination status?
The university’s interest in vaccination status is straightforward: an accurate measure of the aggregate vaccination rate on campus promotes our ability to maintain regular operations. Having an accurate picture of vaccination rates allows us to evaluate and put forth measured policy in response to any surge in COVID-19 cases.
What are my choices on the Vaccination Response Form?
- I am vaccinated and will upload documentation verifying my status. I understand that my obligation to test under the university’s sentinel testing program will be suspended but may be reinstated in the future should the need arise.
- I am vaccinated but choose not to upload documentation verifying my status.
- I am not vaccinated.
- I prefer not to say.
Who will have access to my Vaccination Response Form information?
Due to health care and FERPA privacy laws, Samford will not disclose vaccination status of individual students or employees. Access to vaccination information is highly restricted, just as we maintain close control over all health information and student and/or employee records subject to HIPAA and FERPA regulations. Training is required of all persons accessing student and/or employee records.
Will the university accept antibody test results as a substitute for vaccination?
No. CDC guidance currently states, "Antibody testing is not currently recommended to assess for immunity to COVID-19 following COVID-19 vaccination or to assess the need for vaccination in an unvaccinated person.”
Will I be restricted from attending classes, eating in the Caf, or attending university events based on my vaccination status?
No. Please note, however, that external organizations offering internships, student teaching and/or clinical learning opportunities may have different requirements. Contact tracing, isolation and quarantine policies recommended by the CDC and required by local health officials also vary between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and/or whether a person is symptomatic or asymptomatic. Source: CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Vaccinated People.
What vaccines does Samford recognize for the purpose of suspending my sentinel testing obligations?
For persons vaccinated in the United States, the university only recognizes vaccines approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA: Pfizer-BionNTech, Moderna, and Jansen (Johnson & Johnson). Consistent with CDC guidelines, for individuals vaccinated outside the United States, Samford also recognizes three additional vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use: AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
What do I need to upload in the Vaccination Response Form to verify my vaccination status?
The university will accept any of the following:
- A copy of a U.S. CDC Vaccination Record Card.
- Electronic vaccination records where country policy requires the use of electronic documentation via app or health agency site (e.g. UK NHS App, NHS Certificate, Israel Green Pass, EU Digital COVID Certificate).
- A letter from the medical provider that administered the vaccination which meets the following criteria:
- The Proof of Vaccination must include the name of the vaccinated person that matches the Samford University ID (SUID) with the date of birth (DoB), the dates of the completed vaccination cycle, the administering physical or medical services provider and the manufacturer of the vaccine issued.
- The vaccine is recognized by Samford University as defined above.
- You will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days following the end of the vaccination cycle (after receiving the second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson).
Has Samford offered COVID-19 vaccinations to employees and students?
Yes, during the spring 2021 semester, Samford University secured COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for all students and employees through a partnership with University of Alabama at Birmingham. The University also conducted on-campus vaccination clinics in March, April and May. All active full-time and part-time employees and students received email communications from the university with details related to accessing vaccination appointments.
Where can I go to learn more about vaccination against COVID-19?
We suggest you visit:
- Alabama Department of Public Health
- Jefferson County Department of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
Am I required to provide a negative PCR test result to return to campus this fall if I am fully vaccinated?
Yes. Samford will require ALL students and employees to provide a negative PCR test result prior to reentering campus, attending class, or accessing your residence hall or office. Samford will provide access to free test kits on campus or through the mail in the coming weeks to be administered within seven days of your return to campus.
As we gather on campus this fall, students and employees will arrive from thousands of different locations with each person having unique experiences over the summer. As there is no way to evaluate each situation, community testing allows us to establish a clear baseline independent of prior experiences, potential exposures, new variants and unknown caseloads. Baseline testing also allows any potential cases to be identified before returning to campus. Our experience last fall and this January reinforce two important lessons: (1) many infected persons are not aware of their status and therefore the potential to carry and spread the COVID-19 virus; and, (2) the single best way to protect the campus from an overwhelming outbreak that could delay or prevent the start of the semester is to identify and prevent latent cases arriving on campus in the first place.
What happens if I arrive on campus without a negative PCR test result?
As was the case last year, Samford will require a negative PCR test in order to reenter campus, attend class, or access residence halls.
In order to be cleared for return to campus for the 2021-22 school year, all students are required to do three things:
- Electronically sign the Student Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk.
- Respond to the university’s Vaccination Response Form and upload verification if you choose.
- Within 7 days of returning to campus, submit a negative PCR test result.
Will the university have an ongoing testing program throughout the year?
Yes. Specific details will be forthcoming, but we are redesigning the program in response to input from our students and employees. The changes we anticipate in our testing protocols are:
- Reducing the total number of random sentinel tests students and employees will be asked to take by approximately 80% while maintaining a statistically valid measure of asymptomatic presence on campus.
- Eliminating consecutive or redundant testing requests by self-administering our random sentinel testing rather than using an outside vendor.
- Utilizing tests that allow for supervised self-administration.
- Providing a minimum of five days advanced notice for random sentinel test selection and allowing individuals to pick their appointment time on one of three days.
- Requiring focus testing only when a clear pattern of cases indicates hot-spot potential (significant advanced notice in this circumstance is difficult).
- Providing five at-home rapid-antigen test kits to every residential student for self-monitoring.
- Providing rapid-antigen tests at no cost for any student, employee, student group leader or classroom instructor when requested.
- Suspending all vaccinated individuals from participation in random sentinel testing.
If I am vaccinated, am I subject to the university’s ongoing testing program?
All students and employees are subject to the university’s testing programs. However, random sentinel testing requirements are presently suspended for individuals who upload vaccination verification through the university’s Vaccination Response Form. In the event of updated CDC guidance, a substantial increase in cases on or around campus, new state or local laws, or in response to identified clusters with the potential for breakout infections, the university may reinstate random sentinel testing for all persons or to require participation in narrowly targeted focus testing.
Am I required to provide a negative PCR test result to return to campus this fall if I tested positive for COVID-19 during the past 90 days?
No, if you have had COVID-19 since June 1, 2021, you are not required to provide a negative PCR test result to return to campus this fall. Instead, you simply need to submit your previous positive test result through the university portal. The upload link for submitting all test results is located here (samford.edu/go/UploadResults). The confirmation should have the date of your positive test, the same name as appears on your Samford University Student ID (SUID), and clearly specify that the result was taken from a PCR test. You must be fully recovered before returning to campus. Recovery requires that a minimum of 10 days have passed since the date of your test and you have not experienced any symptoms for at least 24 hours.
Quarantine vs. Isolation
Quarantine is used to keep someone who is reasonably believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine aids in preventing the spread of the disease that can occur before a person knows he or she is ill or infected with the virus. People in quarantine should remain at home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow instructions from their state or local health department and primary health care provider.
Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those who are asymptomatic) from people who are not infected. People in isolation should remain at home until it is safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone who is sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).
What are Samford’s protocols for quarantine and isolation?
Quarantine and Isolation
Samford’s isolation and quarantine protocols align with CDC Guidance. These protocols include:
Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, is required to quarantine away from other persons and seek a PCR test from a healthcare provider. No one is allowed to return to campus without a negative PCR test result and having remained free of any symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours prior to return.
Anyone testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should notify the university within two hours of the diagnosis and isolate for 10 days away from other persons. Students should email Covid19health@samford.edu and employees should email Covid19employees@samford.edu.
Any unvaccinated individual who has been in close contact* with a COVID-19 positive person must quarantine away from other persons for a period of 10 days. Alternatively, unvaccinated persons may exit quarantine as early as the 6th day, provided they are symptom-free and obtain a negative test result from a PCR test taken no sooner than the fifth day following exposure. To minimize time away from campus, the university encourages students to pursue the 6-day option for meeting quarantine requirements. Test results should be uploaded to https://samford.edu/go/UploadResults and a notification email must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to exit quarantine.
Asymptomatic, vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine after close contact* with someone testing positive for COVID-19 but must test for the presence of the virus 3-5 days following exposure. Should symptoms develop, persons should follow the guidelines described in #1 above.
All quarantined persons should continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days following exposure and may come to campus only if free of any symptoms for at least 24 hours prior to return.
*Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulatively within a 24-hour period.Source: CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Vaccinated People.
What do I do if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
All employees and students who are enrolled and studying on campus should notify the university within two hours of diagnosis. Students should contact Covid19health@samford.edu and employees should contact Covid19employees@samford.edu.
Will I be notified if I have been in contact with someone on campus who has tested positive for COVID-19?
Yes, you will be notified through Samford’s contact tracing process if the university learns that you are a “close contact” of an infected individual while on the Samford campus. Close contacts are defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of a COVID-19 infected person for at least 15 minutes cumulatively in a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset.
Are University Health Services available on campus?
Yes, the Health Center is open for students and employees. In partnership with MedHelp, Samford’s on-campus Health Center is staffed by a Physician and a Nurse Practitioner during regular operating hours. Students and staff also have access to MedHelp’s five Urgent Care locations in Birmingham after hours and on weekends.
Hours of Operation
On-campus Health Services
- Monday — Friday, 9 a.m. — 6 p.m.
- Walk-ins welcome
- Appointments available from 10 a.m. — 3:45 p.m.
Birmingham MedHelp Clinics
- Monday — Friday, 8 a.m. — 8 p.m.
- Saturday, 8 a.m. — 6 p.m.
- Sunday, 1 a.m. — 6 p.m.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or believe you have been exposed, call the clinic at 205-726-2835. University Health Center staff will complete a curbside consultation in the Health Center parking lot. If deemed necessary, COVID-19 tests will also be performed onsite at the Health Center. All five local MedHelp clinics will also provide COVID-19 testing during clinic operating hours.
University Health Services will not facilitate COVID-19 testing required for returning to campus. If you have questions about return to campus testing, students should contact Covid19health@samford.edu and employees should contact Covid19employees@samford.edu.