SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — With the rise of the Delta variant in Arkansas, John Brown University is modifying its guidelines for students and faculty for the fall 2021 semester.
The university has issued the following guidelines on how it will begin the fall semester:
- No requirement. JBU will not require the COVID-19 vaccine out of respect for each individual’s right to make their own health decisions.
- Strongly recommended. JBU strongly recommends that students receive a vaccination to immunize themselves against COVID-19 and protect others.
- More information to respond to legitimate questions. People have legitimate questions about the COVID-19 vaccine (myocarditis, fertility, the process of vaccine development, final FDA approval, etc.) If you are interested in learning more about responses to these questions, let the University know by signing up at this link. JBU is working with local health care providers and other educational institutions to host a virtual town hall to respond to these questions.
- Vaccinated students have a better chance for an uninterrupted semester. In keeping with CDC guidance, if students are fully vaccinated, they are less likely to get sick and have to go home for isolation for 10-14 days; they will not be deemed “close contacts” and have to go home for quarantine for 7-10 days, and they will not need to test for COVID-19 unless they show symptoms.
- Unvaccinated students must get COVID-19 testing before school starts. Unless they have COVID-19 within 90 days of school starting or are fully vaccinated, students must receive a negative COVID-19 test three days or less before returning to campus. If they can’t get a test, JBU will provide students with a quick, simple COVID-19 self-swab test when they arrive on campus. However, if they test positive when they arrive, they will have to isolate for 10-14 days before moving to campus. Therefore, especially if you live further from campus, we highly recommend getting a test before traveling.
- Masks policy. In keeping with CDC guidance, JBU is recommending, in general, that students wear masks in “public indoor spaces,” and we trust students to implement that policy appropriately. However, JBU will require masks in classrooms, chapel, and when groups of more than 12 people are meeting indoors. To facilitate students learning, faculty will not be required to wear masks in classrooms as long as six-foot distancing is maintained.
- Three-feet distancing in classrooms and dining facilities. JBU has adapted CDC guidance for K-12 schools and established three-feet distancing in all classrooms and dining facilities. We can accommodate at least 95% of our classes in their standard rooms, and we will move the remaining 5% to larger spaces, primarily in Simmons Great Hall. The rectangle tables in Kresge will now accommodate three people, and the round tables in Simmons will accommodate four diners. We will have outside dining options, including a new picnic area.
- Chapel in Cathedral and Berry Performing Arts Center. We plan to have chapel inside this semester but with at least two locations to reduce the density in each place. We will have live worship in each venue, and a live speaker in the Cathedral streamed into BPAC. Students will have options to sign up with friends for groups that will rotate between the two locations. The Gathering will be in the Cathedral on Sunday evenings.
- General Policy. We will trust students to manage their physical distancing outside and in groups of 12 and fewer inside buildings.
COVID-19 Addendum to the Community Covenant. JBU is asking all students to sign an addendum to the community covenant, agreeing to cooperate with JBU’s protocols and acknowledge the risks involved in participating in campus life in this transitional time as we come out of the pandemic.
Student Activities, Athletics and Residential Life. JBU will seek to have as many of their normal student activities, athletics and residential life experiences as possible (intramurals, athletics, SEA events) in keeping with these guidelines.
“I realize many will be disappointed by these modifications and we remain hopeful that vaccination rates will continue to increase, the surge will be stemmed, and we can further loosen restrictions soon,” says Chip Pollard, President of John Brown University.