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Northeast Georgia colleges' COVID-19 safety guidelines on masks, vaccines
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Sisters Sally, left, and MaryWynn Brandon enter the science building Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, on their way to class during Brenau University's first day of classes for the Fall semester. - photo by Scott Rogers

Before college classes begin, here is what you need to know about the COVID-19 safety guidelines for Brenau, Piedmont, the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College.

Will masks be required?

UNG will not require masks but strongly encourages mask-wearing for individuals who are not vaccinated. Brenau University will require masks for all while in indoor facilities, except dorm rooms or offices unless others are present.

Piedmont University will require masks for unvaccinated students, staff and visitors while on campus. Masks will be provided by the college.

Lanier Technical College will not require masks, but masks are strongly encouraged. 

Will students and staff be required to be vaccinated?

Vaccinations will not be required at UNG or Brenau. 

"At Piedmont, faculty and staff members may not inquire into the vaccination status of any other faculty, staff or students,” according to website guidelines. Residential students, however, “will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 10 days of move-in.” 

Lanier Tech will not require students or staff to be vaccinated. However, the college will offer vaccinations on campus during the first week of the fall semester. 

What are the quarantine protocols for those exposed to COVID-19?

At UNG, vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated and have no symptoms, said Sylvia Carson, UNG executive director for communications, in an email. A person must then submit a Return to Campus Request form before being exempt from quarantine, according to UNG’s guidelines. Individuals who have not been vaccinated will be required to quarantine for 7 to 10 days. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms “should not come to campus,” the guidelines state, and should report symptoms and exposure using the university’s self-reporting form and wait for guidance from the Dean of Students.

Matt Thomas, vice president for external relations at Brenau, said "Our Health Services will discuss the quarantine situation confidentially with each member of the Brenau community to establish the necessary time frame.”

Lanier Tech spokesman Dennis Stockton said the college will follow guidelines put forth by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

What mitigation practices will be used?

UNG will not require social distancing, though unvaccinated individuals “are strongly encouraged to continue socially distancing from others when possible,” according to its guidelines. Other mitigation practices, such as sanitization, cleaning and hand washing, will be employed with guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Brenau will implement social distancing “when possible,” according to its FAQ page. The campus has three levels of cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Faculty and staff will wipe down frequently touched surfaces after each class, and each evening custodial staff will clean classrooms and high-traffic areas. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, the area will be deep cleaned. 

Piedmont will require social distancing, and classrooms will be reconfigured accordingly. Facilities staff will employ enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols for common areas and high-touch surfaces. Additionally, the daily health screening will be reinstated on Aug.1 and completed through the Piedmont app each day. 

Lanier Tech will encourage masking, hand washing, remaining off campus when sick and social distancing when possible.

What are the contact tracing protocols?

UNG will report any positive cases to the Georgia Department of Public Health, follow its contact tracing guidelines and update its website with the number of confirmed cases.

At Brenau, students or staff who test positive, become symptomatic or come into close contact with a confirmed case are instructed to notify school officials via email. Second-degree contacts, such as classmates, will receive a courtesy email from officials but are not required to quarantine or isolate. The area will be closed and decontaminated.

Piedmont did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its campus-wide contact tracing protocols, though its website says that students who are symptomatic should report their symptoms through the website and will be treated according to the Student Health Response Protocol.

Lanier Tech will follow DPH and CDC protocols.

This article has been updated to correct outdated information about masks, quarantining and vaccine guidelines.

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