Mercer University has released its updated COVID-19 policies to be put in place for the spring 2022 semester, according to an email from University President William Underwood.
Some notable changes include the requirement of vaccination for students in health science programs with clinical experiences. Other students will not be required to be vaccinated but are strongly encouraged to do so by the university.
Mercer is also making changes to its COVID-19 testing protocol.
“Only those students who are symptomatic or who have had recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are required to be tested prior to the start of the term, preferably testing before returning to campus,” Underwood said in the email. “We will not issue clearance cards for students who live in university housing or the Lofts.”
Mercer also announced that it will continue the spring 2022 semester without surveillance testing, a practice they discontinued in October due to a low number of positive tests. Students will not need to be tested through the semester unless they are exhibiting symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Mercer's coronavirus page, positive cases listed in the weekly testing reports have remained in the single digits for the majority of the semester.
“My hope is that we will not utilize surveillance testing at all in the spring, but we will closely monitor our campuses and make adjustments if conditions warrant,” Underwood said.
The current mask policy will remain in effect for the spring. This means that each faculty member is able to require and enforce masks in classes and meetings, a policy that went into effect to begin the fall 2021 semester.
As for staff members, all faculty members are required to have their second dose of the vaccine or an approved exemption by Jan. 4, 2022, despite the recent injunction stopping the enforcement of President Biden’s vaccine mandate.
The email also cites that nearly 98% of faculty and staff have been vaccinated, and 87% of students have been vaccinated. It was not specified in the email if "vaccinated" meant one or two doses.
Underwood’s email concluded with well wishes to the Mercer community.
“Together we will continue to keep our community safe during the pandemic," he said. "I hope you have a safe and joyous holiday with family and friends, and I look forward to seeing you all in the new year.”
Micah Johnston ‘22 is a journalism and media studies double major who has written for The Cluster since his freshman year at Mercer. He has written on and reported for Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Macon Telegraph and The Macon Newsroom on a variety of topics. He received the Center for Collaborative Journalism’s Junior Honors Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. Micah’s other interests include obsessively following Braves and Mariners baseball, constantly listening to all kinds of music and probably eating junk food.