DSU COVID-19 cases doubled in the first two weeks of school

Staying safe during these times is important. Here are some small tips to do just that. Graphic by Elissa Aguayo.

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As COVID-19 cases rise in Utah, Dixie State University has revised its COVID-19 guidelines to fit CDC recommendations.

While other universities in Utah have decided to require the COVID-19 vaccine, DSU has chosen to not require the vaccine. However, DSU has chosen to be compliant with Utah’s COVID-19 regulations by minimizing the isolation period from 10 days to five days.

If you are sick and/or test positive for COVID-19, students are recommended to fill out the COVID-19 self-report form and quarantine for five days. After a five day quarantine students are then expected to mask up and social distance for an additional five days. DSU will then contact trace others you may have exposed to COVID-19 to prevent an outbreak from occurring on campus.

Susan Ertel, faculty senate president and associate professor of English, said DSU expects an omicron outbreak on campus within the end of this week and early next week. She said we saw these kinds of spikes toward the beginning of last semester.

As of Jan. 14 DSU recorded 28 positive COVID-19 cases during the first week of school. These numbers have since doubled and DSU is now looking at 77 positive COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 19.

Garyn Gulbranson, director of the Booth Wellness Center, said: “Every time a student, faculty or staff member is reporting a case of COVID-19 we reach out to them personally. We talk about the different testing options. We will give them the run through on the appropriate steps to quarantine and how to notify others [if exposure occurs].”

While DSU does not have any vaccine clinics planned at this time, Gulbranson encourages students, faculty and staff to get fully vaccinated.

Travis Rosenburg, executive director of human resources, said DSU has become stricter on its guidelines for allowing faculty to teach remotely, excluding courses that were designed to be taught remotely.

Rosenburg said the HR department decided that the fear of COVID-19 was not a sufficient enough reason to teach remotely. Rosenburg explained if DSU let a majority of the faculty teach remotely that students’ wouldn’t get the whole college experience.

DSU encourages students, staff and faculty to get fully vaccinated and wear a mask to protect themselves from the Omicron variant.

Rosenburg said he has approved seven employees to work remotely because of health accommodations made unrelated to COVID-19. If a faculty member or multiple students tested positive for COVID-19 the course would shift remotely for a few weeks, however the class could not stay remote any longer than that because of state laws.

Utah state law also requires 75% of classes be taught face-to-face. Problems arise with this when individual classes pivot to remote learning because of an outbreak in the classroom. These classes can remain remote for a few weeks, but eventually need to be shifted back due to state laws.

From the outside in, it may look like DSU is not doing much to protect students, faculty and staff. However, DSU is simply tied at the hands when Utah state laws and legislature prevent DSU from requiring students to get tested or from mandating vaccines and/or masks.

Off-campus testing locations

On-campus testing

Where to get a COVID-19 vaccine