Understanding Changing COVID-19 Protocols

Dear Kent State University Students, Faculty and Staff,

If you have been following our coronavirus dashboard, then you have seen how the Kent State community has been doing a great job of keeping the number of new COVID-19 cases low. Our aggressive program of testing and your cautious behavior have paid off for all of us this semester. Thank you for all you do and for your commitment to safety!

To keep cases down in our community, it is imperative that we continue to follow our Flashes Safe Seven safety protocols, wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing.

Kent State is committed to following the best practices as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health and the Kent City Health Department to ensure the health and safety of our entire university community.

Ohio and other states recently have begun to see a substantial decline in the number of COVID-19 cases. Along with this decrease, there have been changes to state and federal recommendations and safety protocols for how to best deal with the pandemic that we believe are worth reviewing.

Face Coverings

Recently, the CDC issued new guidance on face coverings, suggesting that people consider double masking for added protection, particularly as new, more highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus are proliferating.

The CDC recommends a cloth mask of multiple layers or wearing a second disposable mask underneath a cloth face covering so that the cloth covering pushes the inner mask tightly against one’s face.

It is important to note that the face coverings issued by Kent State are double-layered cloth face coverings, so wearing two is not necessary. For those not wearing Kent State-issued face coverings, we strongly recommend making sure you are wearing a double-layered cloth covering or wear a second disposable mask underneath a cloth face covering.

Quarantining

Recently, the Kent city health commissioner, following direction from the Ohio Department of Health, issued new guidance that reduces quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days for people living in Kent, on campus and off, who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. The quarantine will shorten to 10 days, with the recommendation that they have a COVID-19 test five days or later after their close contact exposure and they agree to self-monitor their symptoms and report them through the Ohio Contact Tracing System daily through day 14. Those living outside of Kent will have to follow the directives of their local health departments.

Vaccinations

Currently in Ohio, vaccines are being provided to selected priority groups based on guidelines established by the state. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine through a COVID-19 vaccine provider in Ohio now or in the future, we strongly encourage you to get it. Our goal is to have everyone in the Kent State community protected against this deadly virus, and vaccines are an important tool in this prevention strategy. As vaccines become more readily available, we will keep everyone posted on any distribution that takes place on any of our campuses. Please also be sure to regularly check our vaccine website for the latest information.

Testing

Since Jan. 1, we have conducted more than 8,000 tests in the Kent State Ice Arena! Starting Monday, we will change from a rapid antigen test to a rapid molecular test. This new test will reduce the number of false positive results, which had required us to administer second tests to individuals and isolate them while they waited for those results.

The new molecular test produces results in about 30 minutes, which is longer than the 15 minutes needed for the previously used antigen test. We believe the longer wait is worth eliminating the number of false positive results, additional testing and potentially unnecessary isolation.

Students who live in the residence halls, even once fully vaccinated for COVID-19, will still need to participate in weekly testing. Scientists are still studying to determine if the vaccine will prevent individuals from spreading the virus to others as asymptomatic carriers. For this reason, the university will continue to test all those who live in residence halls as a tool to prevent outbreaks and to keep the entire community safe.

Curfew

As you may know, Ohio has lifted its curfew, which means that bars and restaurants again are able to operate into the early morning hours. While this may come as a relief to those who desire to socialize in the evenings, we remind you that now it is more important than ever to follow our safety practices and rededicate ourselves to keeping our community virus-free.

Everyone should continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering and avoid large gatherings, particularly as more highly contagious variants of COVID-19 are spreading across the country. While we can see some light at the end of the tunnel, now is not the time to let down our guard.

If You Have Symptoms

Remember, anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 should not go to class or work. Call the COVID Response Team at 330-672-2525 to report your symptoms and to arrange for a telehealth visit at the DeWeese Health Center or with your primary care physician.

Anyone not on the Kent Campus should seek medical care from their primary care physician, at an urgent care facility or at a hospital emergency room. Testing continues to be available for all faculty, staff and students at any CVS Minute Clinic and at the DeWeese Health Center.

This pandemic is far from over, and while reductions in case numbers and vaccines give us much hope, we know we will need to follow our safety protocols for the foreseeable future. As a campus community, we have made great strides and have shown our resilience during the pandemic. There is so much to be proud of as we safely serve our mission and transform lives and communities. Let’s continue to be careful, operate with kindness and tolerance, and truly live the phrase "Flashes Take Care of Flashes."

Sincerely,

Manfred van Dulmen, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
Interim Dean of Graduate Studies
Chair, Pandemic Leadership Committee

POSTED: Friday, February 19, 2021 - 8:26pm
UPDATED: Friday, February 19, 2021 - 8:27pm