Back to Campus

Updates for JBU's Return to Campus

January 6, 2022

Dear JBU Students,

I wanted to send you a follow-up note on JBU’s response to the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Arkansas and around the country. There seems to be a growing consensus about what we know about the omicron variant. It is much more contagious than earlier versions; it typically produces less severe symptoms; the duration of this surge may be shorter; the most significant risk could be the number of people who get sick in a short amount of time, resulting in staff shortages. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has encouraged schools to stay open but take reasonable measures to protect people. In addition, the Arkansas Department of Health has adopted the new CDC guidelines on shortened periods for isolation and quarantine.

In response, JBU will take the following actions for the beginning of the spring semester, many of which are what we did at the beginning of the fall semester during the delta surge. JBU’s general rationale remains the same. We are trying to balance health safety while carrying out our mission as robustly as possible. In particular, we hope to avoid a lot of faculty, staff or students being sick at the same time, which could make it difficult to operate the university. Accordingly, we will require some protocols in the spaces where we require attendance (classrooms and chapel). 

Classrooms:

  • Physical distance: We will keep the three-foot distance in the classrooms.
  • Masks: We will require students to wear masks in classrooms.

Chapel:

  • Masks: We will require students to wear masks in chapel.

Dining facilities

  • Physical distance: We will continue to use Simmons B for eating and keep the lower density in Kresge.

All other spaces and activities

  • We recommend masks indoors, particularly in crowded areas.
  • We expect to continue with almost all of our regular activities, including athletics, music, intramural, social, and residential. Still, we request that students use discretion in participating if they are not feeling well or have been exposed.

Isolation and quarantine. JBU will follow, as much as feasible in our context and with the extent of community spread, the new CDC/ADH guidelines for isolation and quarantine but implement them slightly differently from last semester.

Isolation: If a student is experiencing cold symptoms, we ask that they work with the nurse’s office to be tested. If the student tests positive for COVID-19, we will ask them to go home, if feasible, for at least five days (instead of 10). If the student has a fever that persists longer than five days, they need to remain in isolation until fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine. We will also ask the isolated student to take an antigen test on that fifth day and test negative before returning. 

Quarantine/Contact Tracing: JBU will ask positive students to contact any individual who may have been exposed to them as a “close contact.” JBU will provide information to all students on what the ADH/CDC new guidelines recommend for people who are close contacts (i.e., watch for symptoms, quarantine, masking, testing, etc.). Students should then use their best judgment in following these guidelines. JBU will also provide antigen tests to students who are close contacts at the appropriate time if they want to confirm that they are not positive. JBU will rely on the Arkansas Department of Health for any formal contact tracing.

Time frame. We are hopeful that we will only need to implement these protocols for the first part of the semester. JBU’s administration will continue to monitor the situation on campus and in the community as it evaluates when and whether to change its protocols.

It is disappointing that we still need to respond to the pandemic, but I am hopeful that we are closer to the end of the pandemic and these protocols. Still, it may be disruptive over the next month, given the contagiousness of the current variant. I deeply appreciate the grace you extend to us who have to make these decisions. I hope that grace can permeate our worship, learning, and living together this spring.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

All God’s blessings,

Chip