UCO makes COVID-19 plan for spring semester return

At this time, the University of Central Oklahoma has not released a new contingency plan for the Spring semester. With COVID-19 cases rising daily, university officials recommend getting tested before returning to campus.

During a news conference on Nov. 10, Gov. Kevin Stitt recommended that all college students get tested for the virus before leaving campus for holidays. 

“Getting a test before you head home will make sure you do not bring this virus back home to your loved ones,” Stitt said. 

The University of Central Oklahoma, with about 12,000 undergraduates, sent out an email Monday morning encouraging all faculty, staff and students to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling back home for Thanksgiving break. This is the first email in a series of communications that will go out to the UCO community regarding recommendations on leaving and returning back to campus. 

“We are strongly encouraging students who plan to return to campus for housing and/or classes for the Spring get a PCR test 3-5 days before their return to campus and to continue to monitor themselves for symptoms,” said Adrienne Nobles, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs. 

According to Nobles, the university plans to follow the same reopening guidelines that are listed in the fall contingency plan for the Spring semester. 

Nobles said in an email to The Vista, if a student living on campus test positive before Thanksgiving break they should report it to the university and self-isolate for 10 days since symptoms first appeared. Students living on campus may choose to quarantine on campus and should contact their hall director to make arrangements for food delivery. 

UCO, in partnership with the IMMY Labs and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, will continue to offer free COVID-19 testing on campus for members of the UCO community.

The campus testing site is located at the parking lot at the corner of University and First Street. Testing will be available Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

The city of Edmond currently has a mask ordinance in place, which will expire on Nov. 30. Oklahoma City’s mask mandate will be effective until Dec. 7, which requires everyone 11 and up to wear a mask in indoor public places.

Dr. Dale Bratlzer, the University of Oklahoma’s Chief COVID officer, gave some recommendations for students traveling home for the holidays on OU’s website.

“Avoid large crowds and attempt to maintain physical distancing at all times. Help those around you understand the impact of this disease and the reasons to practice those important public health measures to slow the spread of this disease,” stated Bratzler in the Q&A.

Bratzler also recommends students to get a regular flu shot this flu season as it’s possible to be infected with both viruses at the same time.

“Young people with this infection are often asymptomatic but could transmit the infection to their parents, grandparents, siblings, and others,” Bratzler wrote. “If a student tests positive, they need to be in isolation and not directly interact with their family members for at least 10 days after a positive test.”

College students who are returning home for the holidays are considered part of a different household from those living in the home already, according to the CDC. The CDC defines a household as anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in a single home. Individuals who do not follow the CDC’s coronavirus prevention measures, such as handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing, pose a higher risk than those who consistently practice them.

This article has been updated as of Nov. 23, 2020 3:47 p.m.

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