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Coronavirus FAQs for Employees

The university’s COVID-19 website is updated regularly with announcements, safety guidelines, information for faculty/staff and more. If you have a question that is not answered on the university’s website or if your question is specific to the CIC, please review our FAQs below. Questions not already covered below may be submitted to Rachel Rolli.


As of Aug. 27, classrooms are being cleaned twice a day.

The university is requiring face coverings to be worn at all times when inside all campus buildings, unless you are in your own residence hall room, private office or are eating. Other locations may be added as conditions warrant. More info»

We encourage students to report a COVID diagnosis through the form If a student requests an extension on an assignment or says they cannot take a test due to a required isolation or quarantine, faculty should refer students to this form, where they will provide the required documentation. This will allow the university to confirm their diagnosis.

When Student Health Services learns of a case either through university testing protocols or through self-report, three processes are initiated: Assess the student’s health and need for any clinical or other services, especially if on campus; emphasize the need for isolation; and initiate contact tracing during the presumed period of infectiousness. These are all done in context of respecting the student’s privacy.  You will not be notified that a specific student is COVID positive, but individually, those who the student reported as close contacts will be advised to self-quarantine and potentially be tested.  

The undergraduate ombuds office under Lisa Jerald has created a COVID-19 Student Report form.  Students can use this form to ask the ombuds office to contact faculty if there will be class absences related to COVID. There has been discussion about using the same process for graduate students, though we do not have additional information on this yet. Mark Cooper is working on a document from the faculty senate on attendance recommendations from the scholastic standards committee.

Our understanding is that there are two levels of this. A student in violation of quarantine/isolation directives is subject to student conduct proceedings. In addition, we can report to DHEC any known positive cases who are violating isolation orders. This can move the violation into the legal world of issuing an emergency public health order. 

There is no faculty role here unless the faculty member has knowledge of an isolation directive and the student shows up in class.  In that scenario, a report to the Office of Student Conduct would be appropriate.

Unfortunately, any topic involving faculty reporting involves some level of faculty discretion. Bethany Bell with the faculty welfare committee has created a document about the enforcement of public health directives from faculty. In the document, she outlines several steps for faculty to follow (i.e., offer a mask, issuing a verbal warning, refer to conduct, etc.).

Our understanding is that Mark Cooper and the faculty senate committee on scholastic standards is working on additional guidance with respect to course attendance and other academic matters, including suggested syllabus language. Bethany Bell and the faculty welfare committee are working on enforcement guidelines.

Future Planning Group is discussing whether the face covering operational plan should be modified to be consistent with the City of Columbia ordinance. The city ordinance does require face coverings inside public buildings and when entering or waiting in line to enter.


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