Dear 7C students,
The beginning of another academic year is now upon us. Omicron variants and subvariants continue to cause COVID-19 infections across the world. However, our knowledge in the prevention and treatment of this disease continues to expand and thankfully, the burden of this disease in terms of severe illness, hospitalization, and death continues to diminish. Those who have kept “up to date” on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including all recommended boosters when eligible, continue to fare significantly better than those who are not up to date. With this is mind, our campuses continue to require students to remain up to date on their vaccinations, so we can all safely return to campus for an excellent, in-person higher education experience.
This semester, students will notice some changes related to COVID-19 testing.
- While there may be some periodic mandatory testing (please refer to your campus for their specific requirements), for the most part, testing will simply be easily available to students who wish to test. Whether you have symptoms, you were exposed, or you just want to know your status, you can get tested.
- The location of your testing may have also changed since last year. All students will now utilize the saliva PCR testing option offered through Student Health Services (SHS). No more nose swabs, for those who were still having to go through that last year.
- Another exciting change you will notice is the placement of vending machines spread across the consortium. The vending machines are just now arriving on campus and should be operational shortly. Then, students will be able to test at their convenience rather than having to rush to a testing site before it closes. More information about this option will be shared as soon as it becomes operational.
In LA County, an individual testing positive for COVID-19 is still required to isolate for a full 10 days. Neither LA County nor the State of California have changed this policy in this regard, despite change in CDC guidance earlier in the year. However, the early test out option using an antigen test continues to remain in place and we will continue to offer this option on campus.
Indoor masking continues to be strongly recommended, though not required, on most parts of the campus. Please note that healthcare facilities such as SHS and Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS) are still required to enforce mandatory indoor masking. I would encourage everyone to wear a well-fitting, high-grade mask any time they are indoors, except when sleeping or actively eating/drinking. I would ask you to keep in mind that besides vaccinations, masking is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of catching respiratory infections such as COVID-19.
Monkeypox is now also at the forefront of many people’s minds. We recently received an update from LA County Department of Public Health, and they have provided us reassurance that it is safe for us to bring students back to campus. There are a few additional things I wanted to mention regarding Monkeypox:
- Based on their experience so far, LA County Department of Public Health informs us that transmission of monkeypox has occurred almost exclusively in situations involving close personal, skin-on-skin exposure, often during sexual activity where such exposure can be expected.
- The risk of transmission from casual interactions such as sharing the same space as an infected individual or from a brief handshake are almost negligible, according to their expert guidance.
- If you have a rash which is of concern for monkeypox, please know that you will be able to make an appointment to see a provider at SHS and if determined to be necessary, the provider will have an ability to collect appropriate specimens to send to the laboratory for testing.
- LA County Department of Public Health has reassured us that at this time, there will be no requirement to move an individual with Monkeypox into a separate isolation space.
- The isolation which will be required will be contact isolation, meaning you should isolate any rash/skin lesions from others with the use of clothing or bandages which adequately cover these skin lesions.
- SHS will continue to monitor the situation closely and we will provide updates to the campus community should our knowledge and guidance regarding monkeypox change.
- SHS has also established a Monkeypox webpage with some current facts. We will make updates there as well when new information becomes available.
So, while there continue to exist many things for us to be mindful of, please know that SHS will continue to provide appropriate guidance with the health, well-being and safety of our students and community at the forefront of everything we do.
Please feel free to reach out to a SHS provider, MCAPS counselor or utilize the no-cost 24/7, on-demand telehealth service (7C.Health) if you have any questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health at any time. We look forwarding to welcoming you back for a safe and successful year ahead.
Prateek Jindal, DO
Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness