November 23, 2020
Dear students, faculty and staff,
As we successfully conclude in-person instruction for the fall semester, thank you for all you've done to make this semester possible. It wasn't easy, but we persevered together.
As a university, we've spent time this fall evaluating our actions, examining emerging national research and considering how we can improve our approach to Spring 2021. Through this process, the most important lesson we learned is that you are essential to any strategy we adopt. Whether it's wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing your hands or getting tested for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies, your disciplined efforts to keep yourself safe and healthy demonstrate your care for those around you and inform how we will live, learn and work together in 2021.
To keep our Gamecock family safe and healthy in 2021, we have increased our emphasis on COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody testing. As cases increase both nationally and globally, we are implementing an expanded strategy requiring COVID-19 testing for Spring 2021. For the vast majority of our population, required testing will include both pre-arrival testing and required monthly testing.
Our plan draws upon the advice of public health experts and utilizes our university's robust testing infrastructure to meet the challenges of the days ahead. You will find detailed instructions for students and employees on our newly updated COVID-19 site, but a few highlights of our approach include:
- All students, faculty and staff living, learning or working on the Columbia campus must show proof of testing prior to returning to campus (similar to our approach in the fall, but with an expanded required participation). This testing requirement can be met with current COVID-19 test results or evidence of a previous positive test or presence of COVID-19 antibodies.
- All students, faculty and staff that live, learn and work on campus will also be required to test at least once every 30 days. Each month, the university will assign you with a specific testing week and you will have the flexibility to complete your test Monday through Thursday of your assigned week.
As we have done in the fall, we will adapt this strategy as needed depending on the prevalence of the virus in our community and other factors such as widespread participation in vaccine immunizations once available. We will continue to share additional details on our COVID-19 site in the days ahead.
Our experts believe that this combined strategy of required pre-arrival testing paired with required monthly testing will create a safer and healthier environment for our community in the spring. We are extremely fortunate that free testing is widely available on our campus, and we will continue to make testing as convenient as possible throughout the spring with expanded hours and locations. Our experts also believe that the combination of these risk mitigation measures, testing, physical distancing and masks will help to create an environment of opportunity and even greater connection in the spring.
Again, thank you for your continued dedication to the university community. I hope that you and your loved ones have a safe and restful Thanksgiving holiday.