Coronavirus

Coronavirus Updates

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July 24, 2020

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear faculty and staff,

As we approach the fall semester, there is both excitement and anxiety about reopening in the safest way possible. Please see below the e-mail that is being sent today informing students of critical steps and expectations as they prepare to return to campus.

For these measures to work, it is vital that all members of the campus community share in the effort to ensure our health and safety. I need and ask for your participation and cooperation. All students are completing the following three steps; we need all faculty and staff to do so as well.

Our transition approach includes:

  1. Testing all faculty and staff for the coronavirus. This will occur the week of August 10th.
  2. Monitoring your daily temperature and symptoms - entered into the Medicat poratl beginning August 3rd.
  3. Completing a required online coronavirus education module.

Your Coronavirus Test – Vault Saliva Test

The college is making this process as simple as possible and has invested considerable resources to that end. Here is the process: 

  1. Faculty and staff will be asked to come to campus to take the coronavirus test; your specimen will be mailed from here.  You will be sent an e-mail with a link to sign up for your testing day and time.
  2. The test is simple and takes just a few minutes: You spit saliva into a tube and then shake the tube.  
  1. You and the college’s Human Resources Office will receive the results of the test 48-72 hours later.  If the test is negative (no virus indicated), you may continue your work without interruption. If the test is positive (indicating virus is present), the director of human resources will contact you about the appropriate next steps with regard to isolation before returning to campus. 
  1. Of course, for the foreseeable future and while waiting for the laboratory results, please practice the healthy habits that will make a difference: wear a face covering, keep your distance socially, wash your hands well and regularly, and report any new symptoms. 

Monitoring Your Daily Symptoms

Effective August 3, 2020, all faculty, staff and students must login to the Medicat online health portal to log their daily symptoms and temperature. The Medicat portal is what students use to access resources available at the Ladd Health Center.  

For faculty and staff, the information collected in the Medicat portal is seen only by the human resources director and is protected by HIPPA. It’s important that you be honest and diligent about your daily reports.  You should not be concerned just because you have a symptom (fever, headache, sore throat, and so on).  Many illnesses share these common features. We want to be able to track symptom patterns and also use this information to make good clinical judgements if and when COVID-19 cases occur on campus. Your screening checklist becomes part of a powerful tool for contact tracing and helping keep you and others healthy.  

Your Online Coronavirus Education Module

You will also receive an email with instructions to complete a short education module regarding symptoms of COVID-19, how to minimize viral transmission, and more important information. You must complete the module before the fall semester begins on August 17th.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to Wayne Phipps at wphipps@berry.edu.

I look forward to seeing you in person in the coming weeks, and I appreciate your support of the safety and wellness protocols that will enable us to open campus in a healthy manner.

Warm regards,

Steve Briggs


Message from the President

Dear students:

I write to provide more information and important details pertaining to the start of the fall semester in mid-August. We are excited about the fall semester and its unusual challenges. What an opportunity to excel and exhibit the tenacity and resourcefulness that has long defined Berry. 

Last week we conducted town hall meetings with more than 1,000 students and parents. We received hundreds of questions. In the midst of our ongoing planning, it was helpful to hear your concerns and specific questions. As we discussed in those meetings, the college’s approach to the opening of campus involves managing three categories of risk associated with the coronavirus: 

  • Transitions – including return to campus
  • Interactions – in the context of a residential community
  • Boundaries – protecting the “Berry bubble”

In this letter, I want to focus on how we will manage the risk of transitioning back to campus. Our transition approach involves four steps for all residential students, with comparable steps for commuter students.

  1. Scheduling a day and time for residential students to return to campus and move-in to your residence hall.
  2. Testing all students for the coronavirus. This will normally occur five days before you return to campus.
  3. Completing a required online coronavirus education module.
  4. Recording your daily symptoms and temperature - entered into the Medicat portal beginning August 3rd

Remember that Berry’s overarching goal is to operate as normally as possible as an educational community, emphasizing the quality of education programs and the integrity of the residential experience, while also acting to protect the health and safety of all members of the Berry community.  These four steps will help us have a great start to the semester.  

The first challenge facing the Berry community this fall is how to ensure that its returning members are free of COVID-19.  Given the recent upswing in the number of cases, particularly in our state and region, and the percentage of people now testing positive, we believe that the best way to ensure a healthy community is to have all students, faculty and staff complete a coronavirus test prior to the start of the semester.  For most students, that will mean completing the test BEFORE they leave home and head back to campus.  

Scheduling Your Move-in Date

Students will be emailed a registration link from Residence Life next week.  Each student will select a day and time to move-in. Move-in times are for three hours and are limited in the number of students moving into a residence hall at any given time. This limit is based on students bringing no more than two (2) guests to help with move-in.  While some students may need to return to campus early to begin their work assignments, the general move-in dates are: 

For new students: Wednesday, August 12 and Thursday, August 13. 

For returning students: Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16. 

Your Coronavirus Test – Vault Saliva Home Test

The college wants to make this process as simple as possible and has invested considerable resources to that end. Here is the process: 

  1. Next week, residential students will receive via e-mail a link that you will fill out to receive a coronavirus test kit at your home. Please complete this link immediately.
    (This process does not include commuter students or those who have returned to campus already.) 
  1. Students need to complete the coronavirus test exactly 5 days in advance of departing for Berry. The test requires a scheduled appointment, during which you will receive instructions about and be observed completing the test. The test is simple and takes just a few minutes. After completing the test, you place the specimen in a prepaid envelope and return it to a lab by overnight mail.  
  1. You and the college’s health center will receive the results of the test 48-72 hours later. If the test is negative (no virus indicated), you may return to campus as scheduled. If the test is positive (indicating virus is present), the health center will contact you about the appropriate next steps with regard to isolation before returning to campus. 
  1. Commuter students will be asked to come to campus to take the coronavirus test.  Students already in residence will also complete the test on campus. You will be sent an e-mail with a link to sign up for your testing day. 

Monitoring Your Daily Symptoms

Effective August 3, 2020, all students (as well as faculty and staff) must login daily to the Medicat online health portal to record their symptoms and temperature. This screening will continue until we are sure that the campus is healthy and stable.

The information collected in the Medicat portal is seen only by Health Center Staff and is protected by HIPPA. It’s important that you be honest and diligent about your daily reports. You should not be concerned just because you have a symptom (fever, headache, sore throat, and so on). Many illnesses share these common features. The health professionals simply want to be able to track symptom patterns and also use this information to make good clinical judgements if and when COVID-19 cases occur on campus. Your screening checklist becomes part of a powerful tool for contact tracing and helping keep you and others safe. 

Your Online Coronavirus Education Module

Prior to returning to campus, you must also complete a short education module regarding symptoms of COVID-19, how to minimize viral transmission, and other important information. More information about this education module will be sent next week.

In all, expect three emails next week containing:

  1. a link to receive your coronavirus test kits at home (or to schedule a time to take the test on campus)
  2. a link to schedule your move-in on campus
  3. additional information and an educational module about how we will manage risk related to Berry's social and educational environment. Topics will include face coverings, social distancing, social nodes (or "personal bubbles"), continued Medicat monitoring and other policies. That information will spell out also behavioral expectations related to the coronavirus for all students attending Berry this fall

In this time of rapid change, we want to help you focus on what you need to do in preparation for coming to campus in just a few short weeks. If you have any questions, please reach out to deanofstudents@berry.edu.

We look forward to seeing you in person soon – with your version of a great face covering.

Steve Briggs

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