University Opening as Planned for Spring 2022; Omicron Update
Today the Office of the President issued the following letter:
Dear Southern Virginia University Students,
We are excited to welcome everyone back to campus next week for the 2022 Spring Semester! Classes will begin on schedule as previously planned on Wednesday, January 12.
Goal for Spring Semester
Our goal for spring is to continue more normal operations as far as pandemic conditions allow, including in-person classes and extracurricular activities. Throughout the semester, we will monitor trends of coronavirus—including the recent emergence of the Omicron variant—and adjust accordingly. Everyone will need to do their part to help manage this new situation.
Update: Omicron Variant and Vaccination
Current data suggests nearly all unvaccinated individuals are highly likely to be infected by Omicron, as well as roughly one-third of vaccinated individuals. Those who are vaccinated and fall ill also tend to have fewer, milder symptoms, recover quicker, are less likely to infect others, and are almost never hospitalized. Although vaccination will not prevent all individuals from contracting Omicron, data shows that vaccination almost always prevents serious illness, significantly reduces duration and severity of symptoms, and reduces infection to others.
As Omicron is highly infectious but less likely to result in hospitalization or death, early national patterns are: rapid escalation to high rates of infection followed by a peak and relatively rapid decline. For example, the first country widely afflicted with Omicron, South Africa, reached a peak in about four weeks and then declined over the next four weeks back to low levels. If this pattern repeats in our community, we would expect rapid growth for about a month to a peak of high rates of infection and then a reduction over the next month back to our historic low levels.
We’re optimistic we will emerge from this wave stronger and healthier than ever and transition to a sunnier, more normal life in the second part of spring semester, as flowers bloom and trees blossom here in our beautiful Shenandoah Valley!
Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect yourself and others from serious illness caused by COVID-19 or its variants. It also makes life simpler and liberates you from complicating COVID-19 restrictions and requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the NCAA.
Three Actions for All Students
In light of Omicron, we request that students comply with the following actions:
Vaccinate & Boost
We urge all individuals whose health conditions allow to be fully vaccinated under the guidance of competent medical professionals. For fully vaccinated individuals who qualify, we strongly recommend receiving your booster vaccine as soon as possible. Not only will this maximize your protection, but it will ensure your eligibility as government agencies and the NCAA are beginning to require vaccine boosters to qualify as being fully vaccinated. Additionally, please remember that individuals who are fully vaccinated have reduced testing requirements and are not required to quarantine for five days as a close contact. Please vaccinate to protect our community and avoid quarantine and other restrictions.
Travel with Caution
Because the Omicron variant is more contagious than previous strains of the coronavirus, we recommend acquiring a negative test result before traveling to campus. When traveling, please exercise extreme caution including distancing and masking whenever possible. If you are experiencing sickness, please delay your travel plans and notify the Office of the Provost of your delayed travel by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In these cases, your absences will be fully excused and you will be assisted in making up for missed work.
We strongly encourage you to purchase several self-tests from your local area and bring them with you to campus. The emergence of Omicron has resulted in increased national demand for testing supplies. As a result, our COVID Resource Center will need to prioritize remaining test supplies for individuals presenting with severe symptoms. In cases with mild symptoms, the CRC will direct individuals to test at a local medical provider or to administer a self-test. Due to increased demand for testing supplies nationwide, we strongly recommend that you bring several rapid self-tests with you to campus. These rapid self-tests are commonly found at local pharmacies, like CVS or Walmart, or can be ordered online.
We appreciate your partnership in protecting our community. Working together to practice healthy behavior and encouraging but not mandating vaccination, we have an outstanding record in dealing with COVID-19—equal or better than nearly all other colleges and universities. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to adapt and make the best of a difficult situation. Together, we will continue to make our campus a refuge from the pandemic storm. Please be safe and smart!
Office of the President
Southern Virginia University