Spring semester launches with free COVID-19 testing, reduced quarantine times



COVID-19 precautions continue to come as the pandemic nears its two year mark.

The COVID Response Team is ready to safely ring in the spring semester, announcing changes including updated isolation and quarantine requirements, mask recommendations and food and drinks limitations for clubs and other campus events. 

Calvin will begin adhering to the new guidelines on Jan. 31.

In a Jan. 14 email, the CRT announced that per CDC recommendation, the isolation period will now be shortened from 10 to five days for vaccinated students. The CDC also suggests a five-day quarantine period for those who have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes unvaccinated individuals and those who received their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine more than six months prior to contact. Those “fully vaccinated” are no longer considered at that status unless they have also received a booster or completed their initial vaccine series within the past six months. This requires them to quarantine as well if they are in contact with a positive case. 

In an email to Chimes, Sarah Visser, vice president of student life and chair of the CRT, said masks continue to be key to preventing the spread of COVID on campus, especially with the rise of the Omicron variant. “We continue to remind people that proper wearing of the mask is critical,” she said. According to the email, the CRT recommends that “every member of our community consider upgrading their daily mask to an N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical mask, instead of a cloth mask.” Visser said the university is in the process of making approximately 1,000 surgical masks available to students.

Food and drinks are currently prohibited at club meetings and campus events in hopes of mitigating spread. “It made sense to create as few situations as possible where people would come together and need to remove their masks,” Visser said. 

Despite the ongoing spike in cases, mandatory testing has been put on pause for the unvaccinated students who were required to get tested weekly in the fall semester. This change was announced in a December 2021 CRT email. Instead, Calvin is adapting to a pilot testing program where all testing is subsidized but not mandatory. This testing will continue through Jan. 31. According to Visser, the pilot program is meant to evaluate the more relaxed method of tracking COVID and help the CRT decide how to proceed with surveillance testing for the rest of the year.