Dear ACU Community,
We have seen an uptick in COVID cases over the last week, reaching a high of 90 today, with an additional 165 members of our community in quarantine. This is not surprising as we expected to see a mid-semester surge. We have been planning and preparing for this over the last six months.
While we have all worked hard to keep our campus safe during this pandemic, I want to urge you to remain vigilant. Through our contact tracing, we know some of these positive cases are the result of off-campus activities, such as travel outside of Abilene and gathering in groups to celebrate special occasions. Others are due to more relaxed behavior from all of us. We strongly advise our campus community to limit unnecessary travel and gatherings where social distancing is not possible. We should all continue to do our part by wearing our masks, backing up six feet and washing our hands.
We recognize it is difficult to follow these protocols in a community as relational as ours, but it is absolutely essential. Our medical clinic and our Student Life teams, in particular, are working tirelessly to manage all of the necessary actions in this environment, but they cannot do it alone. Our faculty and staff also have instrumental roles. Many of you are working very long hours under tremendous pressure, and I want you to know how grateful I am for what you’re doing every single day to keep our campus open and help us stay safe.
To our campus community: if you have any symptoms you believe could be related to COVID-19, please remain in your residence until you feel better.
I also want to remind you of ACU’s protocols for COVID-19:
- On-campus process: If you receive a COVID-19 positive test result from the ACU Medical Clinic, we will immediately begin contact tracing and provide support. Based on this contact tracing, we will notify anyone who has been exposed and provide instructions for their care. While a peer may notify you of potential exposure, please wait for a contact tracer to notify you. This could take up to 48 hours. In the meantime, keep following safety protocols! Only the ACU Medical Clinic or SOAR can place you in isolation or quarantine.
- On-campus testing: Testing is available at the ACU Medical Clinic. PCR testing for asymptomatic individuals is available to faculty, staff and students at no charge. The FDA approved Rapid SARS Antigen test is available for patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 and/or are exhibiting symptoms. The antigen test is a nasal swab administered via a drive-up appointment for $40 and is covered by ACU’s health insurance plan for faculty and staff. Our medical clinic can also administer the antibody test for patients who want to know if they have previously been infected. The antibody test is a blood draw and is available by appointment for $65 each for the IgG (indicates previous infection) or IgM (indicates recently active infection). The antibody test is not covered by ACU’s health insurance plan. Employee, spouse and dependent clinic office visits are $45. To schedule an appointment at the ACU Medical Clinic, call 325-674-2625.
- Off-campus exposure: If you are notified that you have been exposed to COVID-19 off campus, please complete this notification form. Completing the form will ensure we are able to support you.
- Off-campus testing: If you are notified by an off-campus medical provider that you have tested positive for COVID-19, please complete this notification form. Completing the form will ensure we are able to support you.
For our faculty, if a student reports to you that they are symptomatic, please direct them to return to their residence and complete this notification form. Students who report to you that they are symptomatic — whether they are awaiting testing or awaiting test results – should be allowed to participate in class remotely. In our current environment, it is good to err on the side of caution.
If students believe they have been exposed, but contact tracing has not (or not yet) indicated they should be quarantining, they should continue to practice safety protocols and complete this notification form.
ACU has established these protocols and numerous procedures to minimize confusion and protect the health and safety of our campus.
As a reminder to all of us, when someone is notified that they need to quarantine, it does not mean they are infected – it means they have been identified through contact tracing as someone who has been exposed to an individual who tested positive. Anyone who is directed to quarantine should continue to observe safety protocols, finish what they are in the midst of doing and proceed to their residence to await instructions from SOAR (students) or Human Resources (faculty and staff) regarding their quarantine.
Our leadership team has already taken steps to help reduce further spread. We will continue to carefully evaluate the landscape and take additional steps as necessary. While we prefer not to cancel campus activities or change existing plans, the health and safety of our campus is our highest priority.
Please do your part to stay healthy and keep our community well.