Below please find some common questions and answers around the spring 2021 semester.
Q: All my classes are online this spring and I will not be on campus. Do I still need to have antigen testing?
A: If you are 100% remote (meaning you will not be visiting McIntyre Library, campus computer labs, paying bills at Blugold Central, etc.) then you do not need to come to campus for testing. Student Health Service recommends that students consider being tested regularly even if you do not plan to come to campus.
Q1: I had close contact with someone with COVID-19 before I was fully vaccinated (14 days after getting your last dose of vaccine). Do I need to quarantine?
A1: Yes, if you are exposed to COVID-19 before you are fully vaccinated (two weeks or more since you got your second dose in a two-dose series or one dose of a single-dose vaccine), you must complete a full quarantine period. This is because your body may not have built up a full immune response at the time when you were exposed to COVID-19.
Q: What are expectations and exceptions if I have received the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. However, per CDC’s latest recommendations, vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
- Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series (if past 3 months then quarantine)
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
Q: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed very rapidly. Are they safe?
A: In order to obtain emergency use authorization from the FDA, vaccine manufacturers must show data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. While the funding and approval of the vaccines were fast-tracked, the clinical trials were completed to obtain this data. Millions of Americans have safely received the vaccine. All three vaccines available have been shown to be highly effective.
Q: Are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines dangerous?
A: Some individuals may experience mild side effects after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. Common side effects include pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headaches or muscle aches. They usually occur in the first few days after the vaccine and last less than three days. These side effects are not a concern and are a sign that the body is building up its immunity. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine may carry a risk of blood clot in women under age 50. This risk was very low with six cases out of 6.85 million. Infection with COVID-19 also carries a risk of blood clot.
Q: I am trying to become pregnant. Should I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. CDC does not recommend routine pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination. If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Like all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects now and will report findings as they become available. For more information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html
Q: Can a COVID-19 vaccine affect women’s fertility?
A: The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. This myth arose after a false report on social media claimed that the vaccine would cause a woman’s body to attack the placenta and prevent pregnancy. There is no scientific proof that this is true. We do know that a pregnant woman who is infected with COVID-19 is at increased risk for complications and hospitalization.
Q: Can healthy college students skip the vaccine and just plan to recover from COVID-19 if they contract the virus?
A: While it is true that most college students have mild illness and recover fully from a COVID-19 infection, they should still be vaccinated. Some individuals may suffer serious complications related to infection, including blood clot, organ damage, and death. Others may suffer with chronic fatigue or long-COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to prevent individuals from getting infected and from spreading the infection to others. Here on campus, fully vaccinated students are exempt from quarantine and antigen testing requirements. Having a fully vaccinated campus community is the best way for us to continue in-person classes and events.
Q: What happens to the records on vaccinations received on campus?
A: All vaccination records are shared with the WI Department of Health Services.
Q: What if I need to come to campus unexpectedly, and I have not been following the testing guidelines?
A: Students, faculty and staff who need to come to campus after a long lapse between tests have one of two options. They can be tested at a facility off-campus and then record the test and results in the Blugold Protocol app. Or they can go directly to the Zorn Arena Testing Center, take a test and record the results in the Blugold Protocol app before visiting any other location on campus.
Q: I'm a student at UWEC—Barron County, and I am a commuter student living at home, so do I need to take antigen tests?
A: Yes, all students who come to a UW-Eau Claire campus this semester, including the Rice Lake campus, are required to take regular antigen tests. UWEC—Barron County students are required to take an antigen test every other week. Testing will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in the gym.
Q: I’ve received my COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still have to be tested every other week if I'm already vaccinated?
A: The majority of people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine will have some level of protection, the vaccine efficacy rate is not 100%, which can result in some who are vaccinated contracting and transmitting the virus. Currently, the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommend that those who receive the vaccine continue to test. The CDC is engaging in research to better define transmission within the population of those who have been vaccinated. Until further research and recommendations by the CDC are available, we are requiring vaccinated individuals to be tested as determined by the campus policies for their population.
Q: I have recovered from COVID-19. Do I still need to use the app and/or complete antigen testing?
A: If you tested positive with a PCR test or tested positive with an antigen test and you were also symptomatic at the time of the test, then you do not need to test for 90 days from the time of the test. After the 90 days you must resume regular testing.
Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine change your DNA?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA or DNA to communicate to our cells instructions on how to generate an immune response. The vaccine mRNA or DNA is then destroyed and does not alter our own DNA.
Q: Do employees need to follow the testing protocol if they will not be working on campus this spring?
A: Employees who will be working remotely the entire spring semester are exempt from taking an antigen test every other week, but they are still required to monitor their health through the Blugold Protocol app.
Q: How do I schedule a COVID-19 test at UWEC?
A: Go to https://www.doineedacovid19test.com/. Once registered you will be able to register to be tested at the McPhee Center.
Q: I’m having trouble with my Blugold Protocol app. Who should I contact?
A: Users having difficulty accessing the app with their university credentials should contact the UW-Eau Claire Help Desk (715-836-5711, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: I’ve already received my COVID-19 vaccine and am considered fully vaccinated. Does UWEC’s travel policy still apply to me, and do I still have to quarantine after returning from a trip?
A: Yes, the policy applies to you even if you have been vaccinated. Regarding the need to quarantine after a trip, that will vary depending on your circumstance. Updated guidance from the CDC for Domestic Travel During COVID-19 effective 4/2/2021 states that:
- Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.
- People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States:
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine
- Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
Updated guidance from the CDC on International Travel During COVID-19 states:
- Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.
- CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
- If you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine:
- You should continue to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely and get tested 3-5 days after travel.
- You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
- You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
- In addition to this information, you need to understand the rules and requirements in the country you are traveling to as requirements vary. If traveling internationally, check with your destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information page for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers.
- Similarly, it is advised travelers educate themselves on the requirements and expectations put in place by the specific airline used to complete their journeys.
Q: I am participating in an internship/clinical/student-teaching this semester. Is this considered travel?
A: Formal arrangements such as those highlighted above are considered part of the teaching and learning experience and have formal practices in place for infectious disease control. This type of situation would not constitute more than transient exposure to people of unknown virus status.
Q: I am employed by UWEC and am required to quarantine, but my position does not allow me to work remotely. What should I do?
A: If the nature of your job does not allow you to work remotely you can use leave balances, including sick leave, for quarantine. Employees are encouraged to speak to their supervisor if they have any questions regarding paid leave.
Q: How does this travel policy address those traveling between UW-Eau Claire, Barron County and Marshfield campus?
A: This type of travel, for your schooling or profession, is not considered to be outside the normal realm of your duties and would therefore not constitute more than transient exposure.
Q: I play on a UWEC athletics team and travel with my teammates to competitions within our league. Would this be considered more than transient exposure to people of unknown virus status?
UW-Eau Claire and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference have a robust risk mitigation plan for infectious disease prevention. UWEC athletics teams have abbreviated seasons and are not playing against teams outside the UW System. Athletes, coaches, and referees are being tested several times per week and fans are not allowed at the games. This type of situation would not constitute more than transient exposure to people of unknown virus status.