Please Note: Lenoir-Rhyne University has delayed the start of classes until January 18, 2022.
To: LR Faculty, Staff & Associate Staff (Aramark, Ellucian, Follett, Budd Group, HPD and CVMC employees)
From: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
Subject: COVID-19 Update - Submitting Booster Vaccination Documentation
Date: Updated December 28, 2021
This email is a follow-up to the Dec. 23 communication that indicated that the COVID-19 booster vaccine would be required for the spring semester and includes updated return-to-campus policies and procedures that are effective immediately. These updates replace previous policies and procedures and will be updated online, as well.
The COVID infection surge is real and new infections in Catawba County have increased 140 percent since Thanksgiving. The vaccination rate in Catawba County is close to 50 percent, which is well below what is recommended to reduce the spread of COVID infection. While Buncombe County (NC) and Richland County (SC) have higher rates of vaccination, the virus is still infecting significant numbers of people in the communities surrounding all our campuses. Science has indicated the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes from a high of 93 percent to a low of 25 percent to 30 percent after six months. These are reasons alone to support a required booster vaccine. In addition, the omicron variant is now the dominant COVID variant in the United States and is highly contagious, even among those who have been vaccinated. Vaccinations and boosters are effective at helping protect against severe disease.
Lenoir-Rhyne was able to have a successful fall semester, with campus life and classes returning to as normal as possible. This was due to the commitment of the LR community to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks indoors. Our COVID Task Force continues to monitor national, state and local conditions in consultation with our infectious disease and public health experts. Our COVID Task Force and the President’s Leadership Team believe it is vital that we take the necessary steps to keep our campus and community safe. Effective immediately, Lenoir-Rhyne University will require all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot. We believe that vaccine boosters and wearing masks indoors are our best chance to resume class and campus activities for the spring semester and to keep our campus community as safe as possible from COVID infection.
Booster Vaccine & Reporting
All Lenoir-Rhyne full- and part-time employees (including employees of associate partners) at each of our three campus locations are required to provide evidence of completing the COVID vaccine booster shot when eligible. This is effective immediately and verification should be submitted prior to January 10, and no later than January 31, 2022, to be fully compliant with this requirement. Employees may take any of the vaccine boosters regardless of the type the originally received. Medical experts have recommended those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine be boosted with either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine.
Upload for Faculty & Staff Booster Vaccine Documentation
Please know this is a different reporting process from the Paycom system we used last semester. If you experience problems with the form, please submit a help desk ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upload Faculty & Staff COVID-19 Booster Documentation
Employees from our associate partners should report their booster documentation to their supervisor.
Following CDC guidelines, all employees are eligible for the COVID booster vaccine if they are 18 years or older and six months from the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Employees not yet eligible for the COVID booster vaccine must get their COVID booster vaccine shot within one week after becoming eligible for the booster. For example, if you received your second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine August 5, 2021, then you would become eligible for the booster shot on February 5, 2022. You would then be expected to submit verification of your booster no later than February 12, 2022. These individuals would still return to work as normal and get their booster when eligible.
- Fully vaccinated employees who have tested positive for COVID since Dec 1, 2021. These individuals should wait until four weeks have passed since their last day of infection before getting their booster vaccine.
- Employees who received a medical or religious vaccine exemption for the academic year from LR during the fall 2021 semester are not required to submit verification of the vaccine booster. However, these individuals are required to wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors), and to undergo surveillance testing three times weekly.
- Lenoir-Rhyne will consider medical or religious vaccine exemption applications from those employees hired since December 10, 2021. If the exemption application is denied, then the employee will not begin work until they have been fully vaccinated. They will be required to take the booster vaccine when eligible.
In addition to the COVID vaccine booster requirement, it is recommended that all employees get a rapid antigen COVID vaccine test within two days before their return to campus. Free testing is available on campus in the Athletic Training Lab. While this is not required for employees, it is highly recommended.
LR will also conduct surveillance testing three times weekly for those individuals who have not yet received the booster vaccine. Once employees have received their booster vaccine, they are not required to undergo surveillance testing unless they exhibit COVID symptoms or are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID.
All faculty, staff and employees, regardless of vaccine status, will be required to wear an appropriate mask at all times indoors. The masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit over the chin. The only exception to wearing a mask indoors is when eating or drinking in the dining hall, or alone in one’s office. Masks are required when entering the dining hall and selecting your food, as well as in all buildings on campus. Employees teaching or coaching may wear a face shield during their presentations if desired.
Athletic coaches will follow NCAA and SAC guidelines on mask wearing when participating in competition and practices.
While masks are not required at this time when outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, it is highly recommended everyone wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible. It is important all employees comply with the mask requirement and help us reinforce to students the importance of wearing masks in all indoor settings. Students who do not comply with the mask requirement will face consequences, as they will be in violation of the student conduct code related to COVID protocols.
Other Infection Control Measures
Many of the previous COVID infections within the LR community have come from COVID exposure off campus, not in on-campus instructional settings. Please protect yourself when in congregate environments, such as restaurants, retail stores, with family and friends, and other social settings. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, practice physical distancing when possible, and wear your mask indoors both on and off campus.
We can help control our infection rate by reporting ASAP any exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID.
Staff should report to Angelene Fortune at email@example.com, and faculty should report to Judy Lineberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarantine & Isolation
The CDC has updated their recommendations for implementing quarantine and isolation protocols. If you test positive for COVID, you are required to isolate for five days rather than ten, if asymptomatic, and wear a mask for 10 days. LR requires you receive medical clearance to return to work after testing positive for COVID.
Once vaccine boosted, there is no required quarantine if exposed to someone who tested positive with COVID unless you becomes symptomatic and test positive. You will be required to wear a mask at all times for 10 days after exposure.
Those who are fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster will be required to quarantine for five days until vaccine boosted when exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. You will also need to wear a mask for 10 days at all times
Once again, I thank you for your commitment to these policies to help Protect Our Den and keep our community safe. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.