Six weeks from now, we will commence the 2021-22 school year and we couldn’t be more excited! As promised in our June 18th update, this email provides further details about campus operations in the fall. A similar email went to all students last week.
- We are busy preparing for the return of our students and look forward to welcoming them to campus next month. We expect that we will enjoy a return to regular campus activities and operations this fall semester while continuing to monitor for the presence of COVID-19.
- Samford strongly encourages vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the best gateway to a year with fewer constraints of the nature we experienced last academic year. We encourage employees and students, in consultation with their health professional, to complete the entire vaccination schedule and be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester. This means acting now if you’ve not done so already. To be clear, Samford does not mandate COVID-19 vaccination of its students and employees.
- Unvaccinated individuals are expected to assist in protecting the campus community by using face coverings inside campus buildings. CDC guidance states that unvaccinated persons are to wear masks indoors and when proper distancing is not possible.
- Samford follows applicable state laws, state and local health orders and CDC guidelines for vaccinated persons with respect to masking, sentinel testing and quarantining. Those who voluntarily choose to provide verification of vaccination will: (i) not be required to wear masks indoors; (ii) be suspended from random sentinel requirements; (iii) face reduced or eliminated isolation and quarantine requirements; and (iv) not need to maintain distancing from other persons.
- Additional information is provided in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted to the university’s COVID-19 website. Also, remember that all previous campus COVID-19 Update communications are available at this site. Return to the website often, as new FAQs and campus protocols will be added and existing ones may be modified.
Our Most Frequently Asked Question
What will campus really be like this fall?
No one knows with certainty. The university remains optimistic the school year will be without many of the COVID-19 protocols imposed last year. Faculty and staff will return fully to campus. Ben Brown Plaza will be free of tables and chairs. We are planning for the best while also preparing to respond if circumstances change. Much of the “feel” of the campus will depend on the percentage of vaccinated persons and the rate of positive cases on and around the Samford campus. We are in the process of developing fall protocols that aim to be effective but fewer and less burdensome.
Vaccination Response Form
Having an accurate picture of the vaccination rates across the campus community will help Samford to evaluate and put forth measured policies in response to any surge in COVID-19 cases. All employees are therefore required to identify their vaccination status, even if you previously advised the university of your vaccination status in Spring 2021. This information will be confidential. You will be provided an option not to disclose this information if you prefer not to say.
Required Fall 2021 Baseline Testing
As was the case last year, Samford requires a negative PCR test for all employees and students at the start of the fall semester. Required community testing allows us to establish a clear baseline independent of prior experiences, potential exposures, new variants and unknown caseloads. Entry testing also allows any potential cases to be identified before returning to campus. Access to free test kits on campus or through the mail will be provided to all employees in the coming weeks. Alternatively, employees may provide a negative PCR test result obtained from their personal healthcare providers and at the employee’s expense. Either way, a negative PCR test result must be submitted at the beginning of the fall semester or within seven days preceding an employee’s first return to campus if later in the fall.
- If you live in the Birmingham metro area, Samford will offer on-campus testing prior to the start of the fall semester. Test samples will be collected and delivered to the lab for processing. Further details and dates will be forthcoming.
- For those who will not be in Birmingham during the on-campus testing period, a test kit can be mailed to an employee-provided address.
- Employees choosing to receive a test kit by mail will self-administer the test and mail the sample on a specified date to allow sufficient time for processing results. Instructions will be included with the kit.
- Employees opting to provide a test result from a personal healthcare provider must be sure that the test is administered within the seven days immediately prior to the university receiving your result. The negative PCR test result should be taken no sooner than Monday, August 23, 2021 and uploaded to the university website no later than August 27. We do not accept test results from home testing kits.
- In the coming week, you will receive an email with the details related to Fall 2021 Baseline Testing. At that time, you will be provided three testing options:
- I will be taking my PCR test on campus.
- I would like a test kit mailed to me and will provide an address for receipt.
- I will be providing a test result from my healthcare provider by uploading it on the university portal.
Thank you for your attention to these matters. If you have questions, direct them to COVID19Employees@samford.edu. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your summer!