January 14, 2022, Update

Spring 2022 FAQ for Faculty and Staff: COVID-19 Policies, Procedures, and Protocols

January 4, 2022, Health and Safety Protocol Update

Q: What is Southwestern’s isolation and quarantine policy? 
A: In light of the new (as of 12/27/2021) CDC recommendations re: isolation and quarantine, we are recommending the following with the additional points of consideration:

If You Test Positive for COVID-19 (Isolate):

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house, return to classes, and/or return to work.
  • (For faculty and staff) Provide a release to return to work on campus from your healthcare provider (using CDC’s “clinical recovery” guidelines)
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.

If You Were Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)

If you:
Have been boosted
Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months
Completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months:

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days. (at all times within the presence of others)
  • Test on day 5.

If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home until you receive your test result, then follow the appropriate protocols.

If you:
Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted
Completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted
Are considered by the University to be in the broader “unvaccinated” group: 

  • Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask at all times around others for 5 additional days.
  • Test on day 5.

If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home until you receive your test result, then follow the appropriate protocols.

Q: Will Southwestern require booster shots?
A: More information on the booster shot requirement will be forthcoming.  

August 12, 2021, Health and Safety Protocol Update

Q:  What is the current CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people?
A:  The CDC website provides guidance for fully vaccinated individuals

Q: Why do I have to mask if I’m vaccinated or if I have had COVID-19?
A: Masking not only protects you, it also protects those who cannot be vaccinated because of a medical condition or due to their beliefs and when everyone masks, this protection increases. Additionally, Williamson County is currently considered an area of substantial or high transmission; therefore the CDC recommends everyone wear a mask indoors, especially in public areas, like our campus.

Q:  Is the University requiring masking for everyone?
A:  Yes,  the University is requiring face masks to be worn indoors by all students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our campus. Masks are not required in outdoor settings. Masks may be removed in private areas such as residence hall rooms, offices, and while dining or drinking. Additionally, the University urges all members of our community to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and avoid gathering in large crowds while they are on and off campus.

Q:  What is the University’s vaccination rate goal?
A:  We have reached our vaccination rate target of 90% for our campus. Vaccination is an important tool available to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the University encourages everyone who is able to get the vaccine. Getting vaccinated not only helps protect you, it protects others as well. 

Q: Can I get tested off campus?
A: Yes, if you are in the testing pool and you prefer to test off campus, you may arrange for an off-campus test on your own and provide the result to covidtesting@southwestern.edu by 2:00PM on Friday each week.

Q: I like the convenience of testing on campus, but I can’t afford $35 weekly.
A: Consider applying for assistance through the University’s Emergency Fund.

Q: Can I test off campus AND on campus on alternating weeks?
A: Yes.

Q:  If I get tested off campus, can it be a rapid test

A:  The test must be a PCR.

Q: What happens when students who are vaccinated are exposed to someone who then tests positive?
A: Care Coordinators and contact tracers will work to identify anyone who meets the definition of a close contact with someone who has tested positive. A student who is unvaccinated will quarantine for 14 days. A student who is vaccinated will, per CDC guidance, be tested 3-5 days after exposure.

Q: What constitutes “close contact?”
A: Based on current CDC guidance, anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more is considered to have been exposed to the virus. Vaccinated persons who have been exposed are not required to quarantine automatically, but should be tested 3-5 days after exposure. Unvaccinated persons who have been exposed are required to quarantine for 14 days. 

Q: What happens when students are not complying with the mask mandate?
A: At this time, masking is required in most indoor settings (with exceptions for private rooms/offices and while eating or drinking) for all members of the SU community. If a student is not wearing a mask when required, you should request that the student put on a mask. Repeated or intentional violations of the mask mandate will be addressed according to our Judicial Policy. Outcomes of disciplinary meetings are not shared with anyone other than the student(s) involved.

Q: Why was this masking policy determined before all students’ vaccinations or exemptions are due?  
A: The University has followed CDC guidance throughout the pandemic. Current guidance recommends masking indoors for everyone living in areas of substantial or high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. 

Q:  Will spectators be allowed to attend athletic events this year?
A:  The University is not limiting spectators at outdoor sports venues. However, for indoor events, capacity will be limited based on available space to accommodate physical distancing. All attendees are asked to exercise caution by wearing masks at all indoor sporting events and to practice physical distancing. 

Q:  Are visitors allowed on campus?
A:  Yes, visitors are currently allowed on campus.  Although they are not required to show proof of vaccination, they are asked to adhere to our health and safety protocols.

Q:  Are there any time limits on in-person meetings?
A:  No. Meetings, classes, laboratory work, and events will no longer be time-restricted as long as all attendees remain masked. Regular breaks are encouraged for individuals spending extended hours amongst others.

Q:  Is there a maximum capacity for outdoor events?
A:  No.

Q: Will Pirate Bikes be available?
A: Yes!

August 6, 2021 Health and Safety Protocol Update

July 16, 2021 Health and Safety Protocols Update

Q: If faculty or staff have tested positive for COVID, will they be required to have a negative test prior to returning to work on campus?

No. The University requires a written release from the individual’s healthcare provider before being cleared to return to work on campus. When a faculty or staff member informs the University that they have tested positive for COVID-19, one of the items that the University provides to them is a notice to healthcare providers regarding its requirement for “clinical recovery” in accordance with CDC guidance to determine the ability to return to work.

Q: What if a student has received only the first shot of a COVID vaccination by the deadline for submitting proof of vaccination?

A: Students who provide proof of a first dose of the vaccination will be allowed to move into the residence halls. Each student should submit proof of their first shot before the deadline by emailing a photo or scan of their vaccination card to covidtesting@southwestern.edu or uploading it to their patient portal at swu.medicatconnect.com. They should submit proof of their second dose as soon as it is available. Community members are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second shot, so students will remain in the testing pool until that date.

Q: How should students provide proof of vaccination?

A: Southwestern students are required to obtain a COVID vaccination prior to the return to campus. To provide proof of vaccination, students may email photos or scans of their vaccination cards to covidtesting@southwestern.edu or upload them to the patient portal at swu.medicatconnect.com. For students who cannot be vaccinated, a notarized exemption form is required.

The deadlines to submit a vaccination record or a notarized exemption form follow:

  • 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 for new students (first-year and transfer)
  • 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 for returning students

Students who have been approved to move in early should complete the requirement three days prior to move-in.

Q: Where can I find information about Williamson County (Georgetown) infection rates?

A. We have a link to the Williamson County and Cities Health Department data on our COVID-19 Dashboard .

Q: What is the percentage of faculty and staff who have been vaccinated to date?

A. All campus data about percentages of our staff, faculty and students who have been vaccinated will be posted to our COVID-19 Dashboard .

Q: In light of the increasing COVID-19 infection rates in Williamson County, will Southwestern start requiring face masks and make other changes to its policies?

A. The University is requiring face masks to be worn indoors by all students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our campus. Masks are not required in outdoor settings. Masks may be removed in private areas such as residence hall rooms and offices and while dining or drinking. As always, we are prepared to make adjustments to our policies based upon local conditions and mandates.

July 16, 2021 Health and Safety Protocols Update

Q: Why is SU just now announcing its student COVID vaccination policy?

A: With the ever-changing situation created by the pandemic, the University wanted to wait as long as possible so our decision about student vaccination requirements was informed by the latest health data and government policies. This is not a decision we made lightly, and our only objective is to ensure we continue to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe.

Q: How will SU support students with housing or other services if they contract or are exposed to COVID-19 and must isolate or quarantine? Will unvaccinated students receive the same support as vaccinated students?

A: The University will provide the same level of support to infected or quarantined students as is provided to students who contract any other significant illness or communicable disease, regardless of vaccination status. Any student experiencing illness can work through the Center for Academic Success to coordinate with their professors to stay caught up with coursework. Remote, real-time (aka synchronous) instruction will not be offered in the 2021–2022 academic year, so it will not be provided for students who miss class for any reason. However, faculty are able to provide asynchronous opportunities for students to stay caught up.

Q: What if a student has to isolate or quarantine and has no safe alternative housing?

A: We have reserved a small number of beds for these situations. If no beds are available for a student who must isolate or quarantine and has no safe alternative for housing, we will help the student find alternative accommodations.

Q: Will students who have had COVID-19 be required to get vaccinated, even if they still have antibodies?

A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone should be vaccinated regardless of whether they have already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long people are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if a person has already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that they could be infected again with the virus that causes COVID-19. Studies have shown that vaccination strongly boosts protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Q: Will student vaccine status be shared with faculty? How will professors know who should be masked and who doesn’t have to mask?

A: For privacy reasons, a student’s vaccination status will be kept confidential and not shared with faculty. Each faculty member will establish a classroom policy regarding masking. This policy will be included in the syllabus and communicated to students prior to the start of class.

Q: International students living abroad may not be able to obtain a vaccination before coming to SU. What should they do?

A: We understand that it may not be possible for all international students to receive the vaccine in their home country prior to arrival in the U.S. In this case, students may begin the vaccination process when they arrive in Texas. Students will not be required to arrive early or quarantine. Please contact Monya Lemery or Meaghan Bellande at the Office of Study Abroad and International Student Services to request assistance. International students should click here for more information.


Q: When does this policy take effect?

A: This policy took effect on July 14, 2021.

Q: Will visitors need to provide proof of vaccination?

A: Although we do not require proof of vaccination, we expect visitors to comply with the same protocols as SU community members do.

Q: Will unvaccinated students living in the residence halls need to wear a mask in their own room? 

A: As was the case before vaccines were available, students will not be required to wear masks inside their own residence hall rooms. In cases where roommates need assistance defining shared expectations for their room or suite, residence life staff will provide support and facilitation.

Q: Will vaccinated students need to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to COVID-19?

A: According to the CDC , people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms.

Q: What if students are partially vaccinated when they arrive on campus but still need a second dose or must complete a waiting period to be considered fully vaccinated?

A: Students who arrive on campus partially vaccinated will be tested weekly until their vaccination regimen is completed and documented.

Q: How will masking be enforced for unvaccinated students in settings where they are required to wear masks?

A: A student who enrolls at Southwestern voluntarily becomes part of a community where respect for others is the norm; each student’s voluntary entrance into the community implies their acceptance of University regulations. Unvaccinated students, therefore, are expected to demonstrate this acceptance by knowing and complying with Southwestern’s masking requirements. As with any policy violation, refusal to comply will subject the student to disciplinary action through an established procedure.