By Taylor Brown, Editor In Chief
COVID-19 regulations on federal, state, local and private levels have ebbed and flowed over the course of the pandemic. When it comes to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus, regulations and mandates for COVID-19 are not in effect but there are still policies and preventative measures students should be aware of.
The Wellness Center emphasizes the importance of staying home if you feel sick, regardless of whether your symptoms are COVID-19 related: “If you do not feel well, do not come to work or classes. Faculty have been asked to be understanding of this and reasonably accommodate students who do not come to class because they are not feeling well.” Many professors make their lectures and notes available online, so students can avoid infecting their peers while keeping up with academics.
To prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19, the Wellness Center encourages everyone on campus to keep up to date with their vaccines and boosters. They stated, “Breakthrough cases in those who are vaccinated and boosted tend to be much milder.”
Sandy Palmer, a Registered Nurse and the Director of the Wellness Center, told Horizons “The main changes from when students were here last spring is that based on the new CDC guidance that came out in August 2022, people who are exposed (in close contact) to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine.” In response, the campus is no longer doing contact tracing, so faculty are not required to keep seating charts in classes.
The updated guidance does require those who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 to wear a fitted mask indoors and in public for at least ten days after exposure and ger tested at five days after exposure. The Wellness Center encourages ERAU staff and students to wear N95 or KN95 masks in case of exposure.
Palmer reminds ERAU, “We still want to do the best thing we can for the overall health of our community. Therefore, there may be some times when if we know an individual or a group people may have been exposed to someone else who has tested positive (e.g., at a campus event or in a class) we may, as a courtesy, send out a letter to all those who may have been exposed and encourage them to monitor for symptoms, consider testing, contact the Wellness Center with questions, etc.”
Masks are not required apart from positive cases. The only campus office that requires masks upon entry is the Wellness Center, although for matters such as visiting professors’ offices, they may request their own guidelines.
In the case of a staff member or student testing positive for COVID-19, the Wellness Center states “they must contact the Wellness Center immediately to inform them of the positive test and then they must isolate off-campus as directed. The Wellness Center staff will guide each person individually, based on their unique circumstances.” These staff and students are also not permitted to attend work or classes. They must isolate for five days or more and wear masks around others until they are without fever for twenty-four hours.
The guidelines for students who live on campus and test positive for COVID-19 are the same as last year. Students and employees are required to quarantine off-campus, which could entail temporarily moving out of the residence halls. Palmer told Horizons that “the Wellness Center and Housing staff will do their best to work with individual students in this situation, as we have been doing since the start of the pandemic, and students should always tell us their needs and concerns. However, if this situation should occur, the arrangements are ultimately up to the student and at their expense.”
Due to the discontinuation of contact tracing, roommates of students who have tested positive might not be contacted by the university. It is expected that staff and students are responsible members of their community and will inform those they have been in contact with that they might have been infected with COVID-19.
Lastly, Palmer encourages students to keep in mind that “our Wellness Center staff and physicians work under the ultimate guidance and authority of the Yavapai County Health Department and the State of Arizona. As such, they are the final authority on any campus matter, direction or expectation related to COVID-19. Also, these guidelines may change in the future, based upon the guidance and authority of the appropriate health officials.”