Am I required to wear a face mask while on campus this summer?
Effective July 30, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Samford University is requiring all persons on campus, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face masks in all public indoor settings. This policy includes all university facilities and will be reviewed again on Friday, August 20.
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 are not required to wear masks indoors; 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.
How does my vaccination status impact masking requirements?
Masking for vaccinated persons is optional in all indoor and outdoor spaces on campus. CDC guidance states that unvaccinated persons are to wear masks indoors and when proper distancing isn’t possible outdoors. We expect our employees and students to be familiar with current guidelines and conduct themselves accordingly.
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?
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.
What are the university's isolation and quarantine requirements for close contacts or infected persons?
The university continues to follow recommendations from the CDC and requirements of the Alabama Department of Public Health and/or the Jefferson County Department of Health for isolation and quarantine. At the present time, asymptomatic, vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine. The isolation and quarantine period remains 10 days for unvaccinated individuals. Source: CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Vaccinated People.
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?
Samford’s isolation and quarantine protocols align with CDC guidance. As of July, 2021 these protocols include:
- Anyone testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, is required to isolate for 10 days away from other persons.
- 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.
- Any individual identified as being in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person (currently defined as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulatively within a 24 hour period) should:
a. If unvaccinated, quarantine away from other persons for 10 days; or,
b. If vaccinated, self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days.
Should symptoms develop, persons should follow the guidelines described in #2 above.
Am I required to wear a face covering while on campus this summer?
Consistent with current CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear facial coverings indoors or outdoors on the Samford campus. If you have not been vaccinated, for your health and consistent with CDC guidelines, you should wear a face covering while indoors on campus or in situations where adequate distancing cannot be maintained.
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 this summer?
University Health Services is open for students and employees, but has adjusted its operations in response to COVID-19.
- All services are by appointment only.
- All patients are required to call University Health Services for a health screening prior to visiting university health services. No walk-in patients will be accepted.
- To make an appointment or to discuss your symptoms, call 205-726-2835 or visit the University Health Services website.
- For urgent care needs after hours visit St. Vincent's Urgent Care or your preferred provider.
- 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Well Hours - For patients needing non-illness care (ex. injuries, x-ray, allergy shots, physicals, women’s care, vaccination)
- 1 – 4:30 p.m.: Sick Hours - For patients needing illness care (ex. cough, earache, fever, congestion, sore throat)
- 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Virtual Visits - Virtual visits with our Nurse Practitioner are available for all patients.
If you have questions about return to campus testing, students should contact Covid19health@samford.edu.