USU president issues new coronavirus guidance to students

LOGAN – Utah State University has responded to statewide emergency coronavirus restrictions announced Sunday by Gov. Gary Herbert with new guidance for its students.

“It is essential for us to follow the governor’s (executive) order to protect you, your family members and your Aggie family,” USU President Noelle Cockett said in a letter to all students issued Monday.

That letter emphasized that USU classes will continue as scheduled, including in-person classes, until the university moves to remote learning on Saturday, Nov. 21.

In the meantime, USU campus facilities will remain open during regular hours, including the library, computer labs and recreation facilities. Dining locations will remain open, but campus cafés will be take-out only due to limited seating capacity.

Due to Herbert’s directive, however, all events and extracurricular activities must be made virtual, postponed or canceled at least through the completion of Thanksgiving break (Monday, Nov. 30). This includes student clubs, intramurals, club sports and public speaking events not tied to classes.

The emergency measures imposed by state officials aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus are a statewide mask mandate; a ban on all casual social gatherings with anyone other than immediate family members; a postponement of all sporting events and extra-curricular activities with the exception of playoffs, championship games and intercollegiate athletics; and an enhanced regimen of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

The mask mandate begins immediately until further notice. The other measures are effective until Monday, Nov. 22.

Under the state’s new mask mandate, Cockett explained, USU students wear face coverings whenever they leave their homes, apartments or suites. They should also avoid gathering with anyone who doesn’t reside in their home, apartment or suite for the next two weeks, especially in campus common areas.

“Intercollegiate sport will continue under the new restrictions, because COVID-19 testing of intercollegiate athletes is already in progress under the supervision of their respective conferences,” according to Herbert.

But USU students will be most impacted over the next two weeks by the state’s renewed emphasis on targeted coronavirus testing.

In her letter, Cockett explained that Herbert’s executive order requires that universities test all students weekly in order to identify potential asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and prevent spread of the virus, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

For Logan students, USU will begin free weekly rapid testing for all students who live on campus on Wednesday, Nov. 11 and for students living off-campus on Monday, Nov. 16.

That testing will be accomplished by oral self-swabbing rather than the uncomfortable deep nasal swabbing.

Weekly testing will not be necessary for student-athletes already being regularly tested, those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 and students who have left campus to study remotely at their permanent homes.

Rapid testing for students on USU’s remote campuses will begin as soon as necessary resources can be delivered to those locations.

The state’s new testing initiative lines up with Utah State’s effort to provide testing to student prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Cockett.

“We want you and your families to be safe over the holiday season,” she wrote to students, “and getting tested is essential for this.”

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