Vaccinated or not, all students and staff will be required to testfor COVID-19 this fall, according to an announcement from Clemson University on Monday. Students will need to submit a negative test every 7 days and faculty every 14 days to be in compliance.
As was the case last academic year, all on- and off-campus students will be required to submit to weekly testing in order to access necessary buildings on campus. While students and staff are able to submit proof of vaccination, status does not currently impact testing requirements.
For students living on-campus, the university will require two tests: one negative “pre-arrival” test collected within five days of move-in, and one test onsite on move-in day. Students living off-campus will only be required to have a negative test collected between Aug. 9-17.
Both requirements are waived for those with proof of infection within 90 days. All pre-arrival tests can be done either on-campus with Rymedi or by uploading a valid test result from another source to the Test Result Upload Tool. Rymedi testing will be available in Fike Gymnasium from Aug. 2 to Aug. 21 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While masks are strongly recommended on campus, they will only be required in medical facilities (Redfern Health Center, Sullivan Center, etc.) and on public transportation (CATBus, TigerTransit). All who choose to wear masks are welcome to do so. Physical distancing will no longer be required anywhere on campus.
These changes come as university officials closely monitor COVID-19 infection rates, both in South Carolina and across the nation. The last two weeks saw a 147.5% increase in nation-wide COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, according to NPR. Several new, more infectious variants are on the rise in heavily populated areas.
While South Carolina isn’t necessarily having a case spike yet, around 41% of South Carolinians are vaccinated, and a large portion of Clemson’s student body comes from out-of-state or internationally.
There are on-campus vaccination clinics available on campus from Aug. 9-14 and Aug 16-21 in Fike Gymnasium.
Clemson’s announcement comes as the University of South Carolina walked back a campus-wide mask mandate earlier this week. The mandate required all students, faculty and staff to wear a mask inside all campus buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
A day later, the university received a letter from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, informing them that such a mandate is prohibited under a recently passed appropriations act by the General Assembly. President Harris Pastides then revised the face covering policy in a letter to students and staff.
“Because vaccination cannot be required in South Carolina, I felt that face coverings would go a long way in preventing the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is highly contagious, on campus. I did not think that the law precluded this action,” wrote Pastides on Tuesday.
Wilson added that the act also prohibits universities from mandating vaccinations as a condition for admission or attendance.
“It is important that the University [...] protect the constitutional liberty of students, faculty and staff,” wrote Wilson. “The University is free to encourage or promote voluntary vaccinations and masking as part of one’s personal choice.”