By Lexi Masarweh | Staff Writer
Baylor University implemented new COVID-19 protocols on Friday in an email sent out by President Dr. Linda Livingstone due to the spread of the virus throughout the country and community. The protocols include required masks in classrooms and an additional weekly test for unvaccinated individuals.
The university’s COVID team is highly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated. Baylor is offering Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations to students, faculty and staff as well as to their spouses and dependents.
“The CDC has reported since the spring that the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA are safe and highly effective in reducing the spread of the virus and in decreasing the possibility of serious illness and hospitalization,” Dr. Livingstone said in the email.
Mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing has increased to twice a week for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff without an exemption from a positive test within the past 180 days. The university’s models “project a significant spike in COVID cases” within the first two weeks of the upcoming semester.
Students are warned on the Interim COVID-19 Testing Compliance Policy and Administrative Process, that if one fails to test in a given week, they “will have their campus WIFI privileges disabled for the entire following week.” The rest of the consequences for not following COVID-19 protocols are also listed on the interim COVID policy website.
Face coverings are now required to be worn by students, faculty and staff in certain indoor settings such as classrooms and labs during academic instruction. They are also required in particular indoor locations where social distancing is not possible.
“Outside of these required areas for wearing a face covering, students, faculty and staff can choose to wear a face covering in other indoor or outdoor settings based on their individual health and safety needs,” said Dr. Livingstone in the email. “We ask that you please keep a face mask with you at all times and respect others who might have personal or family health considerations.”
Due to a lack of available housing and hotel rooms, the university is advising students to have a plan in case of a positive COVID-19 test or exposure where they might need to quarantine or self-isolate.
“Please note that our COVID plans are subject to change in the event local conditions either improve or deteriorate through the first month of the fall semester,” Dr. Livingstone said.
“While personal responsibility is certainly important to us at Baylor,” Dr. Livingstone said, “we are implementing these campus-wide health measures so that we can safely have a full Baylor experience this fall, which includes in-person classes, full student activities and traditions and 100% capacity at academic and athletics events.”