Campus COVID-19 Update: Testing, masking and vaccination crucial as cases increase

To All Members of the Campus Community:

COVID-19 cases have increased significantly around the state and region as well as on campus. This week, our asymptomatic Community Sampling and Tracking Program has identified 597 positive cases, and 218 cases were diagnosed by University Health Service symptomatic testing. The vast majority have mild or no symptoms.

The UHS positivity rate is 26.9 percent, with cases linked to household and social exposures. Most UHS patients are reporting mild upper respiratory symptoms such as a sore throat and runny nose. These increases are expected and remind us that now more than ever we need to remain vigilant.

We continue to encourage or require testing, masking, vaccination and following quarantine guidelines and isolation guidelines to reduce spread.

As a reminder, we ask that instructors be flexible in accommodating students who are ill or quarantining and have to miss class during this semester. This should include recognizing that students may not have the documentation for illness they have had in the past. Students should not be penalized under these circumstances.

In addition, accommodation for illness can include activating video or zoom in equipped classrooms so that students who are out sick can see and hear the class. Faculty need not teach in hybrid or hyflex mode for synchronous or asynchronous video access to help these ill or quarantined students. Provost Susan M. Collins and I also recognize that in some cases, absences of instructors or large numbers of students due to illness and quarantine and isolation may temporarily warrant remote teaching.

COVID-19 information for employees is available here.

Questions about what to do if you’ve been exposed are addressed in this Campus Maize and Blueprint FAQ.

Quarantine and isolation housing: Our Q/I housing usage is currently 33 percent, and the metric is updated each morning. Student Life sent an email to students Thursday with information on what to do after a positive test specific to those living on or off campus, including the need to report results.

Booster update: We’ve already received 22,000 submissions of booster information within our community and are working to verify this information. This includes students, faculty and staff from all three campuses. Thank you to those who’ve submitted their info. Please submit your updated vaccination information here. We will hold several booster clinics next week at various locations around campus in collaboration with Walgreens, and many pharmacies in the region have walk-up vaccine appointments available. Everyone who is eligible should get their booster as soon as possible and before the February 4 reporting deadline.

Testing available: Appointments for asymptomatic testing are available through our Community Sampling and Tracking Program. There are seven CSTP locations on campus, so if a spot isn’t open at your first choice, be sure to check the others (the North University Court Building is the largest-capacity site, for instance). Please note that registration to use CSTP must be completed once each semester.

Free N95 masks available: We’re distributing N95 masks at CSTP sites, while we have supply. These are available for anyone in our community, and you don’t need to be getting a test to receive one. We are working to broaden N95 mask distribution locations in the days ahead.

I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You also may read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.


Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.

Information resources

COVID-19 and flu vaccine popup clinics

Campus Maize and Blueprint FAQs

Easy-to-read guides

We’ve updated our quick reference PDFs:

Campus COVID-19 Briefing scheduled

President Mark S. Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins will hold a Campus COVID-19 Briefing on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, from 10 to 11 a.m. We’ll share the latest information and answer questions from the community. An invitation will be sent next week.