Dear Faculty and Staff Members,

Your colleagues on the COVID-19 Management Group have been working hard throughout the summer, and we are currently finalizing our preparations for a successful fall semester. Unfortunately, around the country, we are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases, largely driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 variant. We are also closely monitoring the status of monkeypox cases locally and nationally. As we get closer to the start of classes, there is important health guidance for all Loggers to keep in mind. Please read this email for COVID-19 safety and campus arrival procedures, information related to monkeypox, and general communicable disease prevention guidance.

COVID-19 Campus Arrival Procedures

  • We are implementing gateway testing again this fall for all campus community members. However, you should NOT test if you have had confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within the last 90 days.
  • If you left campus for the summer, before you come back, please take a COVID-19 test one to two days prior to returning to campus. You do not need to provide proof of test results. At-home test kits or lab-based tests both fulfill this requirement.
    • If you test positive prior to returning to campus, please notify your supervisor (staff) or department chair/program director (faculty), stay home, and complete your isolation period. Reach out to contacttracing@pugetsound.edu for more specific guidance.
  • If you worked on campus throughout the summer, please begin pooled saliva testing the week of Aug. 22 and test again one week later. You do not need to test again after that with our pooled saliva test. If you become symptomatic, please use the PCR or antigen tests that are available in the community. 
    • Pooled saliva testing resumed Aug. 1, if you would like to begin testing earlier than Aug. 22.
  • All campus members should take a pooled saliva test no later than the week of Aug. 22 and test again one week later. You do not need to test again after that with our pooled saliva test. If you become symptomatic, please use the PCR or antigen tests that are available in the community.    
    • Please pick up saliva test kits from the table outside of Room 208 in Wheelock Student Center. You may take more than one kit at a time. If you need a large amount of test kits, please email contacttracing@pugetsound.edu
    • Please complete your test, and then drop it off at the drop box located outside of Wheelock 208.
    • Pooled results are available within 24 to 48 hours. 
    • The goal of saliva testing is to identify positive cases and safely isolate them in order to prevent an outbreak. 

Monkeypox Update 
The monkeypox outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the WHO. It is important to note that although the emergence of another viral disease is worrisome, monkeypox transmission is preventable, and there are already FDA-approved testing protocols and a vaccine in place. At this time, we are following guidance and case numbers provided by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD), Washington Department of Health, and CDC. As of Aug. 2, there are six known or suspected cases of monkeypox in Pierce County. The most current guidance regarding preventing transmission, signs and symptoms, safer sex and gatherings, and congregate living settings can be found on the CDC website. On campus, we are preparing in the following ways:

  • Offering disease prevention education. Outreach sessions on monkeypox and other communicable disease prevention will be offered to students through CHWS. Further details about times and locations will be provided through email and posted on the campus events calendar in the next few weeks. 
  • Collaborating with TPCHD and reviewing protocol for contact tracing, disinfection protocol, and isolation guidance in the event of a positive case on campus. 
  • Making symptomatic testing for monkeypox available for students on campus through CHWS (at this time, there are no FDA-approved screening tests for monkeypox). Faculty and staff should contact their primary care providers in the community if they become symptomatic. 
  • Staying up to date on vaccine recommendations. Currently, there is a limited amount of monkeypox vaccine available in Pierce County for high-risk and intermediate-risk close contacts. In the event of a positive case on campus, TPCHD will determine vaccine eligibility through contact tracing. CHWS is prepared to provide the vaccine to students if it becomes more widely available to clinics and providers in Pierce County. Faculty and staff should expect to receive vaccines from their primary care providers.
  • Designating a dedicated isolation space for students who test positive who cannot isolate at home. 
  • Reducing stigma. Monkeypox is a public health concern we all need to learn about. 

Providing information and support to students. Students who have concerns or questions about monkeypox may call 253.879.1555 to speak with a health care provider, or email chws@pugetsound.edu. Faculty and staff members who have questions about management of disease control protocols on campus, including monkeypox, can reach out to Danielle Bus, RN, at dbus@pugetsound.edu. Please see the emergency website for updates as we approach fall semester. 

Communicable Disease Outbreak Prevention 

  • On campus, please be aware of actions you can take to prevent COVID-19, monkeypox, and other communicable disease outbreaks
    • Stay home when you feel sick. Get tested and see a health care provider if needed. 
    • Wear a mask. Right now, COVID-19 cases on campus are low, and masking during indoor, group activities is not required, but recommended. Our COVID-19 Dashboard and COVID-19 Mitigation Action Plan will help us determine if masks become required. Additionally, monkeypox (and other viruses, such as cold and flu) can be spread through respiratory droplets (when someone coughs or sneezes). Wearing a mask can reduce exposure to respiratory droplets and protect others. 
    • Wash your hands frequently. 
    • Learn about monkeypox  risks and prevention strategies. Please see the emergency website for updates as we approach fall semester. 

Again, thank you for all you have done to successfully keep the campus safe—and for continuing to take necessary steps to protect yourself and our community. We look forward to continuing to work together with compassion and grace.

Bob Kief and the COVID-19 Management Group