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Academic COVID-Related FAQs

On this page, we have compiled specific FAQs about COVID-related conditions affecting Fall 2022 teaching and learning. Additional information about the campus response to COVID for the Fall 2022 semester for students and employees may be found on the Campus & COVID-19 Information page.

What's New

We will continue to monitor the status of cases on campus and in our surrounding community and will update policies or protocols as needed. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will base these important decisions on local, state, and federal public health guidelines and recommendations.

Updated: August 2022

Classes

Can I decide to change the modality of my class from in-person to virtual?

No, individual faculty can’t decide to depart from the modality published in the class schedule. Decisions to alter the modality of a class for which students have signed up (e.g., switching a face-to-face class to synchronous remote instruction) can only be made by the dean, the Provost, and the President, who make such decisions based on recommendations from county, state, or systemwide leaders.

Are physical distancing mandates in place?

No, physical distancing in classrooms is no longer required. Local and state agencies have lifted such restrictions.

What if I find out that I, or someone in my class, has been exposed to COVID-19?

It depends on whether the exposure occurred during “close contact,” which is typically defined as being within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes. Since there are so many variables involved when someone is exposed to the virus (e.g., whether vaccinated or not), see this flowchart for guidance.

Per state law, employees will continue to be notified of close exposure to a person testing positive in the workplace, and test kits will be made available in these instances. Individuals who receive a notification of possible exposure should read the notification carefully and ensure that they follow the instructions and guidance. Individuals exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive but remain asymptomatic are not required to quarantine. Employees who test positive must inform their appropriate administrator/MPP immediately and file with Risk Management an official confidential report for staff and faculty members. Risk Management provides detailed information on next steps for all employees who test positive for COVID-19.

What if a student in my in-person class has COVID-19? Should I make my class virtual then?

Sacramento State’s Student Health and Counseling Services performs a risk assessment whenever they find out a student has contracted the virus. In the unlikely event they deem it necessary for the modality of a class to change, someone will let you know. There is no need for you as an instructor to make such a decision. Changing the course modality can be chaotic and difficult for students who have organized their schedules around what is posted in the class schedule, so please keep things as normal as possible.

Free testing to students who are symptomatic will continue to be offered through Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) at the WELL. Students who are symptomatic or test positive are required to report their positive test via the student health services reporting link.

What happens during a risk assessment?

Student Health and Counseling Services personnel are trained medical providers, so they consider the same kinds of things any medical professional would assess, such as where an exposure took place, how long it lasted, under what circumstances it occurred, and what community health standards are in place to govern the situation. They are skilled at these kinds of risk assessments, which they conduct for other potential exposures such as meningitis or tuberculosis.

What happens if I’m vaccinated but I’ve been exposed to COVID-19, should I continue teaching my class?

As this flowchart indicates, fully vaccinated and asymptomatic people who are exposed to the virus do not need to self-quarantine and can continue to work as normal. However, please check with your medical provider for guidance and follow-up.

What about my office hours?

Follow the University policy governing office hours, and further consider whether the modality of your office hours should mirror the modality of the course. That means if you are teaching an in-person class, your office hours would be face-to-face as well. Similarly, students in remote classes would be able to connect with you virtually. You might consider offering both in-person and virtual ways for students in all of your classes to connect with you, and you might also consider holding in-person office hours outside if it would make you and your students more comfortable.

What can I put in my syllabus to let students know University and course policies related to COVID-19?

There is no requirement to include information about COVID-19 policies in faculty syllabi, but you may wish to do so. You can find a sample script for communicating your expectations regarding COVID-19 to your students here.

Vaccination

Is everyone on campus vaccinated?

No, there is no way to achieve 100% vaccination status on a campus as big as ours, and people can be exempt from vaccination on medical or religious grounds. Moreover, those with an approved exemption are not considered vaccinated. It is best to assume someone you meet may be unvaccinated.

Has everyone on campus received booster shots?

No, but the Chancellor's Office announced that the campus community must have received booster shots no later than February 28, or six months after their final dose of the vaccine, whichever is later. This requirement applies to all those who haven't been granted a medical or religious exemption; those with exemptions are subject to routine testing.

Will I know the vaccination status of the students in my classes?

No. Faculty are currently not informed of the status of other required vaccinations for students and we will follow the same process in this situation.

If a student has a positive COVID test, the Student Health Center will follow the same protocols that they do already for other infectious diseases that pose a significant public health risk (e.g. TB). A thorough risk assessment will be conducted and students, faculty, and staff will be notified if there is a risk of exposure. If so, they will be provided with guidance on how to respond.

Can an instructor ask students about their vaccination or exemption status?

No, instructors cannot ask if students are vaccinated or have an exemption, because that is personal information. They will submit that information to the University via their Student Center. It’s okay if students voluntarily disclose their status but asking them to do so could make them feel pressured to reveal what they wouldn’t otherwise disclose. It is up to a student’s discretion to reveal medical information or religious beliefs. Even though the overwhelming majority of students on campus will be vaccinated, it is best to assume someone you meet is unvaccinated for the safety of the entire campus community.

How do I get a medical or religious exemption?

You can find information about the Vaccine Verification Program by going to the Human Resources webpage. Be sure to go to the Employee Center in My Sac State to complete the “COVID-19 Vaccination Certification,” where you can attest to being exempt.

I am teaching virtually and won’t be coming to campus. Do I still need to be vaccinated?

For public health reasons, we encourage all students, staff, and faculty to be vaccinated, including a booster when eligible. However, if you won't be accessing campus for any reason, you can attest to that via the "COVID-19 Vaccination Certification" process described above. Keep in mind that lack of vaccination can’t be used as a rationale for remaining off campus. If there is an operational need for you to be on campus, you must be vaccinated, or have a medical or religious exemption. Operational needs may include attendance at meetings or other gatherings, accessing the library, your office or a campus lab to conduct research, and/or future teaching obligations. Until your operational needs change, you can attest to the following: “I confirm that at this time I will not be physically accessing or performing work at CSU facilities but understand that if this changes, I must certify that I am either current on my COVID-19 vaccination status or that I qualify for a medical or religious exemption.”

I taught virtually last semester but now I need to come to campus to teach or do research. What do I need to do?

If you did not provide vaccination information nor request an exemption, you need to change the status of your "COVID-19 Vaccination Certification" and attest that you are fully vaccinated, or seek a medical or religious exemption and enter the testing program. More information can be found on the Human Resources Webpage.

Testing

What should a student do if they test positive for COVID-19?

During the spring semester, we continued to require twice-weekly rapid COVID-19 surveillance testing for unvaccinated individuals on campus. However, this summer we discontinued this program, except weekly testing for employees represented by the CFA, with which we continue the meet-and-confer process. We instead are focused on testing symptomatic individuals and encouraging students and employees to report positive cases. All faculty, staff, and students must test if they are symptomatic, and all positive tests must continue to be reported to the University.

What happens when a student tests positive for COVID-19?

Student Health and Counseling Services will provide oral and written instructions to the student, including a directive not to attend in-person classes until they receive permission to return. The student will also be told to self-isolate. SHCS will notify the residence halls if the student lives on campus. If they live off-campus guidance will be provided to reduce exposure to others. A student who needs additional care (e.g., medical, psychiatric, basic needs) will be told how to get it.

What if it’s me who tests positive for COVID-19?

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to notify Risk Management by filling out the positive case reporting form. You should then continue working with your health care provider for medical support until you receive clearance to return to campus. If necessary, you should notify your supervisor that you need to take sick leave as you would do normally for any other illness. If you do not have symptoms, you can retest five days after your positive test result, and if that test is negative, you can return to campus.

What if a colleague tests positive for COVID-19?

Your colleague will notify Risk Management by filling out the positive case reporting form, and Risk Management as well as Human Resources/OFA will work together on appropriate notifications depending on the situation.

Face Covering

Do instructors need to wear a face mask?

Sacramento State, in line with guidance from county public health officials, this spring lifted its indoor face covering mandate. However, the University strongly recommends—though does not require—that individuals wear face coverings indoors. Face coverings, however, remain required within health care settings, including the SHCS. We will continue to follow all county public health guidelines with respect to face coverings.

The choice whether to wear a face covering is personal, and we will not tolerate disrespect of individuals for their choice.

Employees and students can access free face coverings and N95 masks at several campus locations, such as the Library checkout counter and the University Union information desk. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Risk Management Services if you have questions and/or if you need to order COVID-19 supplies.

Now that the campus-wide face covering mandate has ended (effective March 19), can instructors require masking in their individual classes?

Instructors may not require masking in their classes. However, it's important to note that face coverings are not prohibited, so you may encourage your students to continue to mask and model masking yourself. Consider reminding your class that those who don’t particularly want to wear a mask can show support for their peers by maintaining their use. Such conversations and modeling normalizes the use of face coverings, and situates the decision to wear a mask or not as a personal choice that you can influence, but not compel.

Will the University continue to provide face coverings for students who forget to bring one to class but choose to wear one?

Yes, face coverings are available at many locations across campus including Risk Management, the Library, the AIRC, the University Union, the Welcome Center, and many other campuses offices offer them as well.

What if students have a hard time hearing me when I speak with my face mask on?

Risk Management has transparent face covering options, and IRT has upgraded classrooms to include sound amplification. If you need further assistance with a microphone while teaching, contact IRT.

Further Information

What if I have a question about my classes or students that hasn’t been addressed here?

You are welcome to pose academic questions to academicaffairs@csus.edu.

What if I have a question about something else related to the campus response to COVID-19?

You are welcome to pose non-academic questions to covidquestions@csus.edu.

Where can I go for more information about the University response to COVID-19?

Here are some resources you can check out: