Campus Alert Levels
What they are and how they affect campus
Green Alert: Minimal Level
Now that vaccines and effective treatments are approved and widely available, and there is a low incidence of the coronavirus, the university can lighten the prevention practices and return to more pre-COVID-19 operations. Faculty, staff, and students should continue to self-monitor for symptoms.
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Blue Alert: Low Level
University and Communities can operate more normally in high density environments. Institutions are open and protective measures are actively in place. The threat of outbreak remains, but the virus is lower and testing and contact tracing are robust to allow some policies to be relaxed. Vaccines are wildly available.
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Yellow Alert: Moderate Level
Institutions and communities are operating with moderate-low confirmed cases of COVID-19. Institutions are open though UofSC Aiken’s protective measures are actively in place. The underlying threat of outbreak remains, but prevalence of the virus is moderate to low and testing and contact tracing capacities are robust enough to serve the institution.
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Orange Alert: High Level
The university is open but may request that employees and students stay home for one or several days, or may put greater prevention steps in place which may include greater limitations on meeting sizes, increased PPE use, and elevated precautions. High risk individuals may be asked to restrict their presence on campus.
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Red Alert: Very High Level
Stay-at-home orders are in place, schools and non-essential businesses are closed and individuals are expected to practice self-isolation. OR the community and institution conditions make it imperative to shift to essential employees only on campus and shift to online/remote instruction.
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To simplify the range of operational approaches, the university will utilize five COVID-19 Alert Levels to indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission and implications for institutional operations. These Alert Levels were informed by guidance from the UofSC Aiken Taskforce on Health Subcommittee, PreventingEpidemics.org, the CDC, current science and data, and current guidelines from the SC Department of Administration. These alert levels are fluid and may change as necessary.
The university will apply a five-pronged approach to determine Alert Levels:
- Follow state and local mandates, which supersede these Alert Levels.
- Campus conditions based on reported and presumed cases.
- Capacity of regional medical centers and hospitals.
- Capacity of the institution to isolate and treat cases.
- Most recent scientific data related to COVID-19.
It is critical to recognize that the state of COVID-19 transmission can vary significantly from community to community and from university to university.
Thus, the UofSC Aiken community is best served by checking the university’s COVID-19 website frequently for updates. The primary methods of communicating changes to Alert levels will be email, the UofSC Aiken website, and social media. Emergency message systems, such as Alertus, are also in place and deployed in the case of a change in Alert Levels. Still, individuals are responsible for signing up for the text message alerts. Visit usca.edu/help-desk/faculty-staff/emergency-facstaff for instructions.
Given what is known about this virus, the university will be prepared to move quickly between Alert Levels if the COVID-19 transmission rate changes at the university or in the community. The university will use data analysis and establish trigger points that would initiate a timely and structured response when the risks of COVID-19 change. If the university changes levels, we may alter or change the academic calendar, campus operations, and shift to contingency plans. Triggers for the university’s alert system are based on campus conditions, including the capacity to treat and isolate cases; and the greater community conditions, including the hospital capacity in this area. This alert system’s development assumes that faculty, staff, and students are being accountable and following the university and CDC guidelines.
Alert Levels are also contingent upon local, state or federal mandates.
Contact Tracing Procedures
How the university is keeping up with the virus
UofSC Aiken’s Student Health Center and the Student Counseling Center play pivotal roles in COVID-19 mitigation and treatment efforts, develop new services, and create flexible staffing solutions to optimize medical and mental health responses in the face uncertainty during this novel pandemic. In addition to the pandemic response, these areas will continue to provide patient-centered care for episodic and chronic illnesses, injuries, counseling, preventative care, and wellness services.
Internal and external surge capacities and staffing trends will be modeled by the Campus COVID-19 Co-Coordinators throughout the pandemic to ensure efficient and effective operations and recognize the imminent risk.
In compliance with CDC recommendations, telemedicine and telecounseling capabilities have undergone large-scale expansion. The use of telemedicine/counseling will be promoted for any appropriate conditions to minimize the unnecessary risk of infectious disease exposure to patients and staff. In addition, telemedicine will be utilized for initial contact and triage of patients with respiratory and other symptoms often associated with COVID-19 to determine patient care needs and the most appropriate method of care provision. This transition to virtual care will allow the centers to meet patient care demands while maintaining CDC guided physical distancing within reception areas, lobbies, treatment rooms, and ancillary departments.
Internal mitigation controls have been implemented to include emergency response, physical, environmental and infection control measures, surveillance, patient safety, and care coordination. The university’s Campus COVID-19 Coordinators will also provide leadership and oversight to contact tracing. University Housing and Residence Life and Student Affairs will provide management of isolation and quarantine facilities. University Housing and Residence Life is a critical and valuable partner in this effort.
The Student Health Center or the Campus COVID-19 Coordinators will advise campus community members of the need to quarantine or isolate if they are suspected of a COVID-19 infection. Individuals will be cleared from isolation or quarantine based on current best practices. Student Health Services, DHEC, COVID Coordinators, University Housing and Residence Life, or a medical provider will provide information about how to comply with the quarantine successfully. Students living in campus-associate housing who have tested positive or are assumed positive for COVID-19 may be required to relocate to an identified isolation space on campus to limit the spread of the virus within the residential community.
Quarantine or Isolation
How to respond to possible exposure
If you test positive, stay home for 5 days regardless of vaccination status. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house. Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have been boosted or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months or completed the primary series of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine within the last 2 months, wear a mask around others for 10 days. Test on day 5, if possible. If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted or completed the primary series of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine over 2 months ago and are not boosted or are unvaccinated, stay home for 5 days. After that, continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. If you can't quarantine, you must wear a mask for 10 days. Test on day 5, if possible. If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.
The on-campus quarantine space will be an alternate short-term living location for on-campus students—not a medical facility, and medical care will not be provided.
The Student Health Center does not operate an inpatient medical facility or provide 24/7 coverage. Students will be educated regarding after-hours care options and are encouraged to seek care should conditions change outside of the student health center’s hours of operation. The Aiken Regional Medical Centers are located directly across University Parkway from UofSC Aiken. In an emergency, the university police can assist with arranging or providing transportation as the individual situation warrants.
Students experiencing worsening symptoms while in isolation may be referred to urgent care facilities or the emergency department for consideration of hospitalization.