Dear PLU community,
As we continue to engage in the long game of responding as a community to multiple co-existing public health concerns, I am writing to update you on two specific concerns that may be on your mind: variants of COVID-19 and the emergence of monkeypox in Washington state. .
First, I’ll provide some reminders and information about current COVID-19 protocols on campus, and then I’ll provide some summary information about monkeypox and our ongoing response in collaboration with County Public Health Tacoma–Pierce.
Fall 2022 COVID-19 Campus Protocols
- Vaccination memory: PLU is classified as a fully vaccinated campus, due to our requirement that all students and employees be vaccinated unless approved for a vaccine exemption. Vaccinated students or those interested in requesting an exemption will find instructions for submitting vaccine records or exemption documents to Health Center Documents and Forms website. (Fully vaccinated = completion of initial vaccine series; up-to-date = all recommended boosters received.) New hires should present their vaccination or exemption documentation through Human Resources.
- Testing: Students and employees coming to campus for the first time or after leaving are strongly encouraged to participate in COVID PCR or antigen testing prior to their arrival. If positive, students should not come to campus and should contact the Health Center to discuss their positive results and the isolation timeline. Employees who test positive should communicate with their supervisors and report their positive test to Human Resources.
- Testing for COVID continues to be available on campus. The Health Center will offer testing for students who exhibit symptoms related to COVID or who have been exposed to COVID. The Curative Kiosk in the Health Center parking lot continues to be available weekdays – Click here to plan – with PCR testing for symptomatic and exposed students and employees. We also strongly encourage all students and employees to reserve several rapid antigen tests at home to ensure easy access to testing when needed.
- Masking: Based on current case numbers in Pierce County, masking indoors is recommended but not required. Masking on campus as a requirement or recommendation is defined by guidelines from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) and the CDC. How this decision can be determined found here. If the determining factors increase, we will notify the campus that indoor masking has become a requirement. (This eventuality is likely to be short-lived, lasting only until the numbers drop again.)
- Care for suspected and positive cases:
- Based on current guidance from our partners at TCPHD, there has been no change to that requested five days of isolation for a positive case, followed by five days of masking when around other people.
- STUDENTS who develop symptoms or test positive for COVID should contact the Health Center for guidance on managing their case. PLU will continue to offer a limited number of isolation spaces on campus for students who test positive; students may also choose to seclude themselves in an off-campus space.
- employee must inform their supervisor if they are unable to work due to exposure, illness or a positive case.
- This diagram remains an excellent source of guidance for COVID questions.
Employees should contact Human Resources and students at the Health Center if they have any further concerns or questions about COVID. As monkeypox becomes a growing concern, we are also preparing to respond to the possibility of a case occurring in our campus community.
Monkey pox summary and campus protocols
- What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a rare virus related to the smallpox and chickenpox viruses and is endemic in several sub-Saharan countries. It has appeared in short bursts in Europe and the US, but never at the current level. Monkeypox is mainly transmitted by skin-to-skin and sexual contact (although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection). The current outbreak in the US is presenting with symptoms that include a rash of small lesions that increase in size; fatigue; and swollen lymph nodes. This CDC resource provides further details with additional links.
- Monkey Pox FAQ: We have collected a few Frequently asked questions from various websites which will provide further useful information on monkeypox Risk factors, broadcastAND the symptoms.
- Monkey Pox in Pierce County: To date, there have been three confirmed cases of monkeypox, in unrelated individuals, within Pierce County. In an effort to stay abreast of this growing public health emergency (now defined as such by the World Health Organization), we are in close contact with TCPHD to determine an appropriate initial campus response and Health Center. This connection will take you to TCPHD announcements about monkeypox and we strongly encourage our entire PLU community to be as informed as possible about this virus and associated symptoms and risk factors.
- Care for suspected and positive cases:
- STUDENTS who have concerns about possible symptoms of monkey pox and/or are unsure of the potential exposure to monkeypox should call the Health Center (253-535-7337), their health care provider, or an urgent care clinic to determine if, how, and where to be evaluated and tested. PLU has a limited number of isolation spaces for students awaiting test results. After testing positive, individuals are required to remain in isolation until all smallpox lesions have completely healed and healthy skin is present at all lesion sites.
- employee should consult with their health care providers and communicate with Human Resources if directed to isolate due to a suspected or confirmed case.
I understand that the monkeypox outbreak comes at a time when we are all still recovering – emotionally, physically and financially – from the COVID pandemic, and that many of you have already suffered loss on many levels. I also know how strong and resilient the PLU community is, and I sincerely hope that providing this information will give you the resources you need to continue to make careful and safe choices about your social behaviors. and health.
In the community,
Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director of the Health Center