TU will be extending these safety measures through Jan. 28. courtesy tualumni.com

TU extends Temporary Campus Safety Measures

Masks are still required, professors may teach remotely and another 500 students will be tested for COVID-19 in the coming week.

The University of Tulsa has periodically updated their COVID stats, informing students weekly of safety measures on campus. With the spring semester beginning on Jan. 10, students remained unaware of just how serious the active cases were in our community. Unlike other private and public universities, TU did not begin the first two weeks of the semester virtually. Instead, the university implemented its return-to-campus COVID-19 testing initiative but was quick to send out a “Temporary Campus Safety Measure” email to inform everyone of how to move forward with the positivity rate just two days into the new semester. The university tested all unvaccinated students regardless of residency status, as well as vaccinated students who live in congregate housing (e.g., on-campus residence halls). In total, 1,024 return-to-campus tests were administered between Jan. 4 and 11, with 151 positive results and an overall campus positivity rate of 14.7%. At the time, there were 98 active COVID-19 cases in the TU community consisting of 89 students, six faculty and three staff.

As of Jan. 19, TU has completed a second round of COVID-19 testing of the student body. Between Jan. 12 and 18, over 400 tests were performed, resulting in 60 positive results and an overall campus positivity rate of 14.2%. Currently, there are 89 reported active COVID-19 cases in the TU community of 77 students, four faculty and eight staff. With just a 0.5% decrease in two weeks, the safety measures may continue to roll over for several more weeks, unless TU decides to completely go virtual, much like the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021. However, to help regulate and slow the spread, TU has decided to extend the safety measures until Jan. 28. These safety measures include continuing the mask requirement in all academic and administrative buildings on campus, allowing faculty to choose whether they teach in person or remotely and selecting 500 students to participate in surveillance testing at the Student Union. You do not have to participate in next week’s testing if one of the following conditions apply: You have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days, you are a remote student (meaning you are enrolled in all online classes, and you do not live on campus) or
you have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Currently, there are two known variants of COVID-19, called Delta and Omicron. Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus, according to the CDC. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported this week in Oklahoma surpassed the Delta variant wave’s peak, with the state reaching the top 10 worst states in four key pandemic metrics. What does this mean? Although they are already suffering shortages, health care facilities are strained again as temperatures decrease and the cold sets in along with a surge of COVID patients. According to a recent article by 2 News, Hillcrest Medical Center says their ICU is at 99% capacity, while OSU Medical Center and Saint Francis Health System are both at 100%. The recommendation from most health care professionals remains the same: isolate and quarantine if infected or suspect an infection and protect yourself by wearing a mask in public and getting vaccinated. The average infections and hospitalizations in the Tulsa area are increasing, but according to the TU COVID-19 dashboard, the campus’ infection rate is slowly decreasing.

The university has a frequently updated COVID-19 Statistics dashboard online which can be found on the main TU website under the University Initiatives tab. The dashboard provides results of active cases on campus and the current ongoing positivity rate. The coronavirus section also has many tools and resources for students and faculty to use. With links to testing, vaccinations and the mask policy, the website is easily accessible, informative and easy to navigate. The website also has a News&Updates link that provides access to the email updates about safety measure extensions. With this new extension of safety measures, students and staff are hoping the spread will slow and the semester may continue as seamlessly as possible.

Post Author: Ji Aldada