- By Kelsie Crough
Coastal Reinstates Mask Mandate For Spring ‘22, but Won’t Require Testing
University officials urge students, faculty and staff to be understanding while navigating campus safety measures due to COVID-19.
Four days before the spring 2022 semester started, Coastal Carolina University reinstated face mask requirements for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status.
CCU President Michael Benson released a statement on Jan. 6, 2021, that announced face coverings will be required of all students and faculty while indoors and on public transportation. According to the release, exemptions from this rule include dorm rooms, individual offices, dining halls, some athletics and student recreation settings, and some performing arts. Officials said this mandate will be reevaluated 30 days from the start of classes on Jan. 10.
Carissa Medeiros, director of emergency management, said the 30-day waiting period was selected by President Benson, the Board of Trustees, and the emergency executive board. Medeiros said the university has been assessing the impact of the new variant, Omicron, at the local, statewide, and national levels in the period leading up to this decision.
“One of the lessons learned that we’ve had through COVID is because of the uncertainty that remains, because we are dealing with the response to an ever-changing, ever-mutating, virus, it is important for us to be patient,” Medeiros said.
CCU Provost Daniel Ennis said the data from the past three semesters played a significant role in the 30-day waiting period. Ennis said the data showed that within the first 30 days back to campus, a surge in COVID cases occur, with most occurring around day 14. He said another reason for reinstating the mask mandate is because science has recently revealed more about omicron and its rapid spread.
Ennis said the hope is that masks will lessen the number of cases to a manageable level.
According to Benson’s statement, the university also encouraged students to receive a COVID test prior to returning to campus. The statement said the university is providing free COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff throughout the semester.
Ennis said the university did not require testing when returning to campus due to accessibility issues for out-of-state students, who may not have access or can take several days for results.
Medeiros said the university did not have the capability to mandate regular testing of students like larger universities, but their relationship with Conway Medical Center and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has allowed for the capability to offer testing to those who need or want it.
“We’ve been really proud of our students. I’m proud of them because they take advantage of the testing. And even with the mask mandate, yes it’s mandated, but our students have been amazing with complying with these measures.” Medeiros said.
Medeiros said that testing on campus in the Lib Jackson Student Union Commuter Lounge, LJSU A107, is now open to people who are mildly symptomatic, rather than only asymptomatic like previous semesters. She said there are times dedicated specifically to asymptomatic testing and times dedicated to symptomatic testing.
According to the CCU website, the time for asymptomatic testing Monday through Friday is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2 p.m.; with symptomatic testing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. all week.
For more information about CCU’s COVID-19 operations, please visit the COVID Operations page on the CCU website.