Mercer University announced its COVID-19 protocols for the Spring 2022 semester in an email from president William Underwood Friday afternoon. The university will be continuing with in-person classes to start the semester, according to the email.
The university also updated its masking policy for the upcoming semester.
“As we begin the semester, given current circumstances, all students, employees, and guests are required to wear masks on campus in indoor common spaces,” Underwood said in the email. “Masks are not required while individuals are eating, drinking, exercising, or working or studying alone.”
The email also states that residential students are not required to wear masks while alone in residential spaces. The decision to require masks in indoor common spaces comes on the heels of a nationwide uptick in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Underwood also gave students information on the university’s testing policies and isolation guidelines.
“Students and employees who are symptomatic must test immediately either on campus at the Macon or Atlanta Campus Health Center or off campus at another testing facility,” the email said. “We will evaluate the scope of our testing program throughout the semester.”
The university has changed its isolation period to match the CDC’s updated policy and now requires five days of isolation following exposure or a positive test, if the person is asymptomatic. Mercer Medicine will investigate individual cases to determine clearance and the student must wear a well-fitted mask for five days after the end of the isolation period.
If students aren’t able to isolate at home, Mercer will continue to provide isolation units, according to the email. Some students can also isolate in place if they live on campus, though this is determined by Mercer Medicine and the Office of Residence Life.
The email concluded with a reiteration of Mercer’s vaccine and booster policy.
“Currently, the University must comply with the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard with required vaccination and testing,” Underwood said in the email. “I encourage you to get vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 to prevent severe illness. The vaccine boosters are offered on campus and at other locations.”
The university will offer COVID-19 booster vaccines on Jan. 8, 10, 14 and 21. Mercer’s spring semester begins Jan. 10.
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.