January 5, 2022
Welcome back. I hope everyone enjoyed a restful holiday break and is ready to successfully launch 2022 and the new semester.
I recognize many of our Southeastern family members are still dealing with the lingering impacts of Hurricane Ida, and I hope the new year brings significant progress in recovering from these challenges.
Unfortunately, it is increasingly apparent that the new year will challenge all of us with yet another surge in COVID-19 cases. The highly contagious Omicron variant has quickly become the dominant variant across our region, state and country. Although there are indications that Omicron is not as likely to result in severe disease and hospitalization, remarkably high infection rates, as confirmed by CDC data, are nevertheless translating into increased hospitalizations.
Individuals with comorbidities as well as those who lack previously established immunity through prior infection or immunization are more likely to experience severe disease and hospitalization. Despite the increased incidence of breakthrough cases and repeat infections with the Omicron variant, recent regional media reports indicate most of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
Clearly, vaccination remains our most effective tool in protecting against COVID-19, especially severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Accordingly, I strongly encourage those who have been previously vaccinated to receive a booster dose as soon as eligible. Likewise, I encourage those who are unvaccinated to begin the process to become fully vaccinated and receive a booster dose as soon as eligible.
As a member institution of the University of Louisiana System, for this Spring 2022 Semester Southeastern is required to continue adhering to the System’s COVID-19 Guiding Principles. In accordance with these requirements, the following will apply:
Southeastern’s Face Mask Policy, which requires all individuals to wear masks indoors, will continue to be enforced.
In accordance with System Guidelines and University COVID-19 Testing Policy, unvaccinated faculty and staff will continue to be subject to weekly testing.
Students will continue to be subject to mandatory testing consistent with the protocols established in the Fall 2021 Semester.
The CDC has updated its guidance for those who test positive for COVID-19 as well as for those who have been exposed. The associated campus protocols have been updated to conform with the new CDC guidance.
As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, those who feel ill should not report to work, contact their supervisor and be tested for COVID-19. The National Guard continues to provide easy on-campus access to testing on the second floor of the Student Union adjacent to the Career Services Office. Testing for COVID-19 is also available at the Tangipahoa Parish Health Unit on Club Deluxe Road in Hammond.
As always, we will continue to keep the campus community apprised of further developments.
John L. Crain