According to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
In accordance with this update, the University System of Georgia has issued new guidance for campuses, including Augusta University, stating fully vaccinated individuals can resume classes and other activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to get a vaccine, to continue wearing a face covering, and to continue socially distancing from others when possible. Face coverings are still required in clinical facilities unless otherwise specified.
USG guidance also provides updates related to work alternative arrangements, which will end June 30, 2021.
“The 2020-2021 academic year was overall a success due to the hard work on each campus to create a safe learning environment,” said USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “We look forward to a successful 2021-2022 academic year under these new guidelines, with the understanding that we will continue to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health and make adjustments accordingly.”
For the summer semester, Augusta University faculty will continue to deliver courses as planned. Adjustments for social distancing will be determined as soon as possible and will be communicated when available.
The USG has released additional guidance for the fall 2021 semester, including a return to full capacity in classrooms and recommendations for events and travel. The guidance will help inform updated policies and protocols for Augusta University’s summer and fall semesters. Updated policies and protocols are expected in the next few weeks and will be communicated when available.
USG guidance includes:
Fully vaccinated individuals can resume campus classes and other activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to get a vaccine, to continue wearing a face covering, and to continue socially distancing from others when possible.
USG institutions will continue to ensure vaccine availability to faculty, staff and students, either through vaccination opportunities on campus or in partnership with a local provider. While the vaccine is not required, it is encouraged. AU Health continues to offer vaccination clinics for Augusta University and AU Health students, faculty and staff. Institutions are not responsible for assessing current COVID-19 vaccination rates for their institution. Note: Students, faculty and staff who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms.
Institutions are expected to resume traditional student life activities beginning fall 2021. Mitigation practices as recommended by the Georgia Department of Public Health should be practiced and observed during these activities.
Events and gatherings
Each institution should follow the most recent executive order from the governor related to events and gatherings. Beyond that guidance, institutions may establish institution-specific guidelines for hosting events and gatherings that include appropriate mitigation. Augusta University will be updating Student Event Protocols, Event Protocols and Student Recruitment Protocols in the next week to comply with this new guidance.
In line with the April 30, 2021, executive order from the governor’s office, colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia should currently strongly encourage social distancing on campuses. Summer courses will continue to observe appropriate levels of social distancing as determined by the institution. Augusta University will return to full capacity in the classroom for fall 2021. Further details will be released in the near future.
Alternate work arrangements (employees)
Alternate work arrangements or accommodations granted to employees for fall 2020 or spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All employees are expected to return to their previous work arrangement at that time. Current summer teaching assignments are excluded from this transition deadline. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.
Alternate educational arrangements (students)
Alternate educational arrangement or accommodations granted to students for fall 2020 or spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All students are expected to return to their traditional educational arrangement beginning fall 2021 semester. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.
With limited exceptions, employees with current COVID-19 related telework assignments should begin transitioning back to their pre-COVID work arrangements and all such arrangements will end no later than June 30, 2021. Pursuant to USG policy, department heads or their designees have the authority to establish teleworking arrangements. All telework requests and designations are based upon management discretion and in accordance with determination of what best serves the institution and students.
USG will follow the state government position on travel. As of May 2021, a non-essential travel ban remains in place. Each institution is expected to make decisions on what is considered essential travel based on their mission and priorities.
Institutions should follow their athletic conference guidelines for COVID-19. Institutions not affiliated with a conference should develop guidelines appropriate for their institution and its athletes.
All guidance is subject to change based on recommendations from the Georgia Department of Public Health or executive orders from the governor’s office. Find Augusta University’s COVID-19 news and resources here.