Read the following email in its entirety before deciding to return for J-Block, Half Block, or Block 5.
- Upload your required booster documentation.
- Testing is required twice weekly for all students.
- Pick up your test kits and masks.
- KN95 masks, provided by the college, are required in all indoor public spaces.
- All on-campus dining will be take-out through J-Block and Half Block.
- Pack a bag in case you need to isolate.
When we wrote to you prior to the fall semester, we anticipated that there would be setbacks this year due to COVID, and the emergence of the Omicron variant is one. Student leaders have conveyed that your preference is to be in person on campus in the coming weeks, and we heard you. We welcome you back in person, and now we need your help to make J-Block and Half Block happen in person. We are writing to help you understand what to expect during the Omicron-variant wave that we anticipate will peak in January/February.
If you are planning to return to campus for J-Block, Half Block, or Block 5, you are more likely to contract COVID-19 than you were in the fall, even if you recently recovered from infection. If you decide to return to campus for any of these blocks, there are risks during the anticipated surge. You may drop J-Block, Half Block, and/or Block 5. If you have questions about your account, see the tuition policy, or contact email@example.com. If you decide not to return for J-Block, Half Block, and/or Block 5 and need help rearranging your schedule, please contact your Advising Hub advisor.
If you receive financial aid and dropping these blocks means you will be enrolled in fewer than three blocks from Block J through Block 8, contact Financial Aid, firstname.lastname@example.org, to ensure you know how your aid will be adjusted.
International students, if you are studying at CC on an F-1 or J-1 visa, you can drop J-Block without impacting your immigration status. However, you need to receive approval from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) before dropping Block 5. Please contact the ISSS team at email@example.com to inquire about dropping your class for Block 5 as there could be implications for your immigration status.
Student athletes, for students participating in NCAA practice and competition, as well as athletic event management, the college will continue to monitor and adhere to NCAA and conference protocols with risk mitigation being a top priority.
Because Omicron is far more contagious, it may be impossible to immediately identify and contain it. We are taking the following steps to slow the spread of the Omicron variant at CC to be able to support students in isolation and maintain in-person instruction and campus life.
Booster shots are required
Because booster doses offer protection from severe illness and death, a booster dose is required of all students who are eligible. Students should obtain the booster as soon as possible, because it takes two weeks to build peak immunity. We hope to offer another booster clinic on campus; details will be shared soon. Upload your documentation by Jan. 3. See immunization and health documentation instructions. Students with recent positive test results are eligible for booster doses upon completion of their isolation period.
Masks – KN95 or similar
Because Omicron is highly contagious, all students and employees are required to wear a well-fitting high filtration mask, KN95 or similar (e.g., N95, KF94, FFP2; no valves) during J-Block, Half Block, and Block 5. The college will provide KN95 masks. Students may obtain up to three masks per week: Mathias, Loomis, and South Hall residents should get them from their front desks; other students should get theirs from Worner Desk and Tutt Library. A distribution plan for employees is being planned. If you have your own KN95, KF94, N95, or FFP2 masks, you can continue to wear your own. Please beware of counterfeit masks. The FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to certain KN95 masks in 2020, and while the EUA has expired, the CDC maintains a list of masks that have undergone filtration testing. Choose KN95 masks from this list with a minimum filtration efficiency of 95%, and KF94 masks with at least 94%.
Masks work best when they fit snugly against your face on all sides and air goes through the mask and does not leak around the edges of it. When worn properly, these types of masks act as an air filter and protect from exposure to aerosols contaminated with the virus. It is OK to re-use masks a few times, so long as they still fit snugly. Keep masks in a clean, dry place in between uses.
If you are unsure whether your mask is equivalent to the KN95 standard, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test kits and masks to be picked up on arrival
- If you haven’t already done so, you must create a Navica account and connect your account to CC, using the connect code in the email you received from email@example.com. Do not skip this step, or we will not be able to receive your test results and follow up with you in case of a positive result.
- Pick up two test kits and your masks. Starting Jan. 2, Loomis, Mathias, and South Hall residents should obtain their supplies at their front desks. Other students should go to the Worner Desk (see hours below); and starting Jan. 3, Tutt Library.
- Take one test immediately with eMed and self-administer the second test on Thursday.
- Pick up three KN95 masks.
- Pick up one N95 mask (to be used only during isolation), and isolation instructions to keep with your isolation bag, please see below.
- Worner Desk hours:
- Dec. 28-30: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Jan. 2: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (test kit distribution for students participating in J-Block)
- Jan. 3: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Pack an isolation bag
If you don’t live in a single and can’t isolate in place, keep a bag packed with everything you will need, including:
- Clothing (isolation housing does not have laundry service)
- Materials for remote learning
- Any prescription medications you take
- Non-prescription cold-fighting medications and pain killers/fever reducers
- Personal care items such as tissues, cough drops, contact lens fluid, favorite snacks
- Your N95 mask and isolation instructions.
Screening testing twice weekly
During the Omicron wave (J-Block, Half Block, and likely Block 5) all students, vaccinated or unvaccinated and with or without prior COVID-19 infections, are required to participate in screening testing with eMed twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. We will send out email reminders about screening testing on Sundays and Wednesdays. You will receive your test results from eMed through the Navica app and via email.
Because Omicron spreads very rapidly, we need to make sure that everyone participates in twice weekly testing. Students who miss testing on Monday will be notified via email on Tuesday, and their key card access will be turned off. Students who miss testing on Thursday will be notified via email on Friday, and their key card access will be turned off.
All test results (negative, positive, invalid) count toward the testing requirement. Students with invalid test results are encouraged to re-test but we understand when this is not feasible.
It is not yet known whether people can be re-infected after infection with Omicron and how soon. Students in isolation are exempt from testing and must resume testing 30 days after their positive test result. We will revisit this question when more data is available.
Antigen tests do not detect prior infections. If an antigen test is positive in the weeks following recovery, then it is very likely a re-infection.
If you get tested off-campus or with an at-home test not administered through eMed you must report any positive test results to CC. Please contact the COVID-19 coordinator, (719) 413-9558, to report a positive test result from the past 10 days. If more than 10 days have passed since your positive test result, please use this form.
Symptomatic testing at the Student Health Center
Students with symptoms should not go to class, should stay away from others, and should call the Student Health Center to schedule a COVID test. No appointment with a provider is required. Symptomatic students who get tested at the Student Health Center will be notified of their test result over the phone if it is positive, and otherwise via the FollowMyHealth app, which you can download.
Isolation lasts 10 days. We are aware that CDC has updated isolation protocols and are waiting to hear back from El Paso County Public Health regarding guidance for institutions of higher education.
Students in isolation may only leave their room with an N95 mask on, to:
- Pick up meals, once per day. Tentative location is Coburn Gallery next to Rastall Café in Worner Campus Center.
- Use the bathroom (there is a designated bathroom in each residence hall)
- Go outside alone (no contact with others)
Students in isolation may only remove their mask while using the bathroom to shower, wash their face, or brush teeth.
After a positive test result
Put on your mask and return to your room. The COVID-19 coordinator will call you. If not, call (719) 413-7588.
Students who live in a single room on campus will isolate in place.
Students who live on campus and have a roommate will be offered isolation housing. If the remaining roommate(s) also receive(s) a positive test result – highly likely because the Omicron variant is highly contagious – the student will move back to their room and roommates will complete isolation together. This will help us preserve isolation beds for others. Tests can detect Omicron infections about 3-4 days after exposure. Please be aware that if negative-testing roommates of a student with a positive result move in with a friend, they may pass the virus on to them.
Students whose families live within driving distance may be asked to complete isolation at home.
Students who live off-campus will isolate in place when feasible, depending on their housing situation.
Take-out meals will be available for students to pick up. Tentative location is Coburn Gallery, next to Rastall Café in the Worner Center. Students in isolation must wear their N95 (not KN95) mask when picking up meals. Meals will only be delivered to students who are too ill to pick up meals themselves.
Contact tracing will be aided by an electronic intake form. The contact tracing team will send students with positive test results a link to the form. Students are expected to fill in the form with as detailed information as possible. Students should contact their professor to discuss need for adjustments and support.
Student requirements to reduce risk
Please limit your social interactions during the Omicron wave in J-Block, Half Block, and Block 5. Because Omicron spreads much more easily and rapidly than previous variants, it is important that we all limit our social interactions. This means, on AND off campus: no unmasked interactions indoors with non-household members; no parties; pick a small number of friends, e.g., up to five, as your Omicron pod to hang out with during the coming weeks. By doing so, you are helping us to keep the number of infections manageable so that students in isolation can be adequately supported.
Rastall, Benji’s, etc. will offer take-out only for the duration of J-Block and Half Block, to be re-evaluated prior to Block 5 and adjusted as the Omicron situation allows.
While this is not how any of us expected J-Block, Half Block, and Block 5 would be, our COVID Policy Implementation Committee and COVID response team have been busy planning so we can continue in-person classes while also managing the challenges of the Omicron variant. We are prepared, and we are encouraged by initial reports that those who are fully vaccinated and boosted experience milder symptoms and are much less likely to become seriously ill.
We expect these protocols will be temporary during a likely surge. By working together to slow transmission and detect infections early through screening testing, we can keep the number of infections manageable and provide limited resources to those who need them most. Thanks for your continued partnership in caring for our community.
Chief Public Health Advisor to the President
Chair, COVID-19 Policy and Implementation Committee