COVID-19 Student Handbook Policy

Introduction


We’re excited that Biola is fully prepared for an on-campus return for fall 2021! There could be no better time than during this COVID-19 pandemic to be part of a Christian university such as Biola University where students are encouraged to live into their passions, to bolster their faith, to mature their biblical worldview and to sharpen their minds.

Biola is committed to doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Every student enrolled in the fall semester will be required to complete and submit the Acknowledgement of Risk and Vaccination Status Form to the Student Health Center upon completing their registration.

While COVID-19 does not appear to pose a significant risk of death to most members of our community, we know that COVID-19 is a serious, even deadly, threat to others. Therefore, Biola is adhering to applicable health standards and protocols set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health with the hope that many of these actions will lower the risk of a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 on campus and will minimize the spread in our community. We are expecting you to follow the standards and protocols described below for your protection and for the protection of others, a commitment which we believe is part of our Christian calling to love our neighbor.

For students who are living on campus during this time, please also read the additional information below that is applicable to you to ensure that you understand all of the community expectations during this season at Biola:

In addition, please note that all university policies and standards remain in effect during the fall 2021 semester, including:

Circumstances and information may change during the academic year, and we may need to alter or revise actions to reflect that new information. We are committed to keeping you well informed with consistent and updated information. Please follow all university signage regarding health and safety requirements on campus and do not vandalize the health posters around campus. You will be emailed when new announcements or decisions are made and new information and resources will be posted on Biola’s coronavirus website.

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Accountability


Because we are a community seeking to keep each other safe and healthy, we expect that you will follow applicable federal, state, and county orders and guidelines, and honor university standards and precautions, including the Community Safety Standards detailed below, both on and off campus.

Student Development, Campus Safety staff and other university personnel will be enforcing the standards that are outlined. Please know that if you choose not to adhere to the standards and guidelines outlined for the health and safety of our community during this season, disciplinary action will be taken.

Violation1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense
Not Wearing a MaskVerbal warning and formal documentation. Potential for follow up with Student Development or Campus Safety Staff.$100 Fine and formal documentation. Potential for follow up with Student Development or Campus Safety Staff.Further violations of this nature are handled on a case-by-case basis, but students are subject to further disciplinary actions, which may include being banned from campus or suspension from the university.
Housing & Residence Life Overnight Guest PolicyVerbal warning and formal documentation. Potential for follow up with Student Development or Campus Safety Staff.$100 Fine and formal documentation. Potential for follow up with Student Development or Campus Safety Staff.Further violations of this nature are handled on a case-by-case basis, but students are subject to further disciplinary actions, which may include being banned from campus or suspension from the university.
Violation of Quarantine/ Isolation DirectiveViolation of quarantine/isolation directives is handled on a case by case basis but will result in severe sanctions, including but not limited to removal from residential housing or suspension.
Failure to Comply with Surveillance Testing ExpectationsOfficial warning letter and formal documentation.$100 Fine and formal documentation. Potential for follow up with Student Development or Campus Safety Staff.Further violations of this nature are handled on a case-by-case basis, but students are subject to further disciplinary actions, which may include being banned from campus or suspension from the university.

If your behaviors/choices on or off campus are putting our campus community at risk, we will also respond appropriately, and your access to campus could be denied. You should also know that there may be times that egregious and irresponsible behavior may lead to an initial fine, immediate loss of campus access, or even suspension from the university, regardless of whether you had a prior violation.

We will work together as a community to hold each other accountable in order to minimize the risk of having COVID-19 threaten the lives of others or interrupt our living and learning together this year. If you have concerns about a community member’s behaviors, please contact Campus Safety at 562-903-6000.

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    Community Safety Standards


    Our Community Responsibility

    The success of our fall 2021 semester will require every member of the Biola community to care for the health and safety of one another. In response to the spread of COVID-19, Biola has developed community safety standards below as part of our effort to reduce the potential exposure to and spread of COVID-19. All students on campus are required to read the following safety standards and agree to abide by them.

    The safety standards outlined here are subject to change based on further guidance and protocols issued by the county or state and/or other public health agencies. Biola will monitor COVID-19-related guidance and protocols and will communicate any changes to these safety standards as they become available. Until otherwise notified, all community members accessing campus must follow these guidelines, including those who have recovered from COVID-19 or have received the vaccine. Additionally, some groups of students are required to follow more specific rules. If there is any conflict between the standards below and those directed at particular students or programs, the more specific and restrictive standards will apply.

    Main Defenses to Staying Healthy

    The best way to remain healthy is to adhere to the following practices which are discussed in detail below. Biola is requiring of all faculty, staff, students, volunteers and visitors to do the following:

    • Monitor your symptoms and stay home or in your campus residence when you are feeling ill, even if symptoms are minor. Call the Student Health Center (562) 903-4841 for assistance and advice regarding illness symptoms.
    • Maintain personal hygiene (i.e., routine hand washing) and health
    • Wear face masks or cloth face coverings over mouth and nose while indoors except for when you are eating or drinking, in your room alone.

    We are also recommending that community members practice physical distancing by leaving 6ft of space from yourself and others when possible.

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    Know the Symptoms and Stay Home When You are Sick


    Symptoms

    COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. People with one or more of the following symptoms may have COVID-19:

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    Testing and Daily Screening

    Initial campus entry health clearance will be required of all residential students. Upon return to campus, all residential students will be required to either provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or documented history of recent COVID-19 infection within 90 days of move-in, and/or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) within 72 hours of their move-in date. Unvaccinated residential students living on campus will be required to take a weekly COVID-19 test scheduled by the Health Center. Weekly testing will be a self-administered nasal swab and will be offered on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. or Wednesdays 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Unvaccinated students are required to select a timeframe, of their choice, to meet testing requirements within one of those two testing windows. COVID-19 surveillance testing will be free of charge, including any necessary follow-up testing, when students come to the open testing days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If students miss their testing appointment without prior approval from the Health Center, they will receive an official warning letter. Repeated violations will result in further disciplinary actions (see chart above).

    All students must monitor their own health symptoms daily before leaving their dorm room or home and coming to campus. If you are sick, STAY HOME! COVID-19 symptoms can be very mild in healthy college students. Students will be expected to self-screen daily by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Do I have a cough or runny nose?
    • Do I have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?
    • Do I have a fever or chills? A temperature check should be done if feasible.
    • Have I been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days?

    If you answered yes to any of the above questions and you do not have a previous condition (e.g. allergies, asthma) to explain the symptom(s) you are experiencing, then you should not come to campus or, if living on campus, do not leave your room. Please call the Student Health Center for a telehealth appointment or contact your personal physician to evaluate your symptoms before returning to campus or leaving your dorm room. During the hours of 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday you can reach the Student Health Center staff at (562) 903-4841. If outside of these hours, call Campus Safety at (562) 777-4000. All enrolled students who are permitted to be on campus can access the Health Center for their healthcare needs. Students may see a healthcare provider at the Student Health Center free of charge, regardless of insurance. Services such as COVID-19 testing (apart from the free surveillance testing), other lab work, immunizations and medications are available for a fee.

    Certain groups of students may be subject to additional health screening based on their duties or requirements from outside agencies/organizations, such as clinical nursing students, or student athletes. Impacted individuals will be notified before reporting to campus regarding any additional requirements.

    The Student Health Center operations has adapted to ensure health and safety for students, including: having a separate check-in location and treatment room for students with symptoms that could indicate COVID-19; rapid-testing capability, close collaboration with Housing and Residence Life for quarantine options, food services for meal delivery; and close collaboration with the Learning Center to minimize impact on students’ educational process should quarantine become necessary. The Student Health Center will also be engaging in contact tracing to quickly minimize and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks on campus.

    Isolation

    If a student living on campus is experiencing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, rapid testing is available at the Student Health Center. If a student tests positive, they can choose to isolate off campus at home or be moved to an isolation room. If a student chooses to get tested off site and their results are delayed, the student will be moved to an isolation room until a COVID-19 diagnosis can be verified.

    High-Risk Individuals

    According to the CDC, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Furthermore, individuals of any age with certain underlying health conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Those conditions include:

    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Compromised Immune System
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Obesity
    • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

    Based on what is known at this time, people with the following conditions might also be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These conditions include:

    • Asthma (moderate to severe)
    • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
    • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
    • Liver disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
    • Smoking
    • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
    • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

    Vulnerable students (those above age 65, those who are pregnant, and those with chronic health conditions) are able to complete their classwork from home whenever feasible and should discuss any concerns with their healthcare provider to make appropriate decisions about returning to campus.

    As more information is verified by the CDC about COVID-19, Biola will in turn continue to update this list.

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    Practice Physical Distancing


    Physical distancing of 6 feet or more is a practice known to halt the spread of viruses from one person to another. While the county has removed physical distancing guidelines, we are recommending that community members continue to practice physical distancing as close contacts are still identified by distance and time spent together. We know that the virus is transmitted more easily in close contact with other individuals. We encourage all persons to be cautious of physical contact with others.

    Greetings

    • Refrain from handshaking, high-fives, fist-bumping or other forms of greeting that prohibit the ability to maintain physical distancing
    • Physical distancing should be maintained when greeting anyone.
    • Verbal greetings should be the norm.

    Elevators and Stairs

    • Students are encouraged to use the stairs in campus buildings whenever possible to limit the risk of exposure to COVID.
    • Students must wear a face covering while traveling in an elevator alone or with another occupant.

    Restrooms and Bottle-Filling Stations

    • Students should be mindful of the number of individuals inside a restroom and limit occupancy to allow for appropriate physical distancing.
    • A 6-foot physical distance should be maintained while waiting for the restroom and bottle-filling stations.
    • Hands must be thoroughly washed after using the restroom and bottle-filling stations.
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      Maintain Personal Hygiene and Health


      Required Vaccines

      As a regular practice at Biola University and at other colleges and universities, some vaccines are required, particularly for those residing in campus housing. Students are required to provide proof of the following vaccines given at the appropriate intervals: two doses of Measles, Mumps & Rubella, a Meningitis ACWY (for residential students only). We are also strongly recommending a 21-22 flu vaccine (for all students accessing campus for any reason during the fall semester). Please upload a complete vaccine record prior to the start of the fall semester by logging on with your NETID and password at biola.medicatconnect.com. Students may apply for a medical or religious exemption from these vaccines by contacting health.center@biola.edu. Application does not guarantee approval and exemptions will only be granted if the reason for the waiver meets the medical or religious criteria. Biola is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging students to get it.

      Hand Hygiene

      Aside from staying home when ill, frequent hand washing is another way to maintain the health and safety of the community. Students will be expected to be diligent about washing their hands as doing so with warm water and soap helps to reduce the spread of infected droplets that may be on the hands.

      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
      • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together for at least 15 seconds. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. There will be hand sanitizer available in each building.
      • Wash hands before and/or after:
        • Eating and drinking
        • Putting on a face covering
        • Using the restroom
        • Coughing or sneezing, even into a tissue
        • Touching mail or packages
        • Cleaning, sweeping, mopping
        • Touching an animal
        • Entering a classroom

      Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene

      • While in a private setting alone and without a cloth face covering, students should practice covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of the elbow if a tissue is not available. Used tissues should be discarded in the trash.
      • Immediately following a sneeze or cough, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for at least 15 seconds.

      Routine Cleaning of Surfaces

      Furniture and other frequently utilized spaces in students’ rooms will need to be cleaned often as well as classrooms.

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      Wear Face Masks or Cloth Coverings


      All persons on campus must follow the Los Angeles County Department of Health orders and protocols regarding the use of face coverings. All community members are required to wear a face covering indoors on campus. Face coverings are not required outdoors, but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals when physical distancing is not possible. Students are not required to wear face coverings when on campus in their own personal living space, while actively eating in the eateries, or when wearing a cloth face covering is otherwise impracticable (e.g., while showering, brushing teeth, etc.).

      Mask Guidelines

      • Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be discarded.
      • Reusable cloth face coverings should only be worn for one day at a time and must be properly laundered after each use.
      • When using a face covering, the mouth and nose need to be fully covered. It needs to fit snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps. Be sure you do not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering. The cloth face covering can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping.
      • Students are responsible for their own face coverings — including bringing them to campus each day and wearing them as instructed when on campus.
      • If students forget their face covering, they will be required to obtain one at the gatehouse before proceeding onto campus or into any physical structure or on-campus facility.
      • The cloth face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing; both must be followed simultaneously.

      Special Circumstances: Certain health conditions may prevent a person from wearing a face covering. Individuals who are unable to wear a face covering need to seek direction and accommodation from professionals in the Health Center. 

      Note: It is likely that when and where face coverings will be necessary will change over time, and as restrictions change, use on campus will change. It is the responsibility of the student to stay current with new protocols as they are released by the university.

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      Residence Halls Required Protocols


      Below are the current expectations of students who will live or are living on campus. Updates will be provided should county and state guidelines and orders change.

      Safety and Health Measures

      • All students will be required to wear face coverings in the residence halls and apartments. (Exceptions: personal bedroom, bathroom when showering or brushing teeth)
      • Common bathrooms are open only to students residing on that floor; students should respect signage regarding any closed stalls or sinks.
      • There will be no overnight guests or visitors in the residence halls and apartments except for essential visitors (e.g., personal care attendants for students with disabilities).
      • There will be no room changes except when extenuating circumstances warrant a change.
      • Students who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 will be isolated/quarantined. We have designated rooms which are separated physically from other students with private bathrooms for the purpose of quarantine.

        Quarantine and Isolation

        Quarantine and isolation protocols will be followed closely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Students in quarantine/isolation are expected to respond to daily electronic health symptom screeners. These screeners assist healthcare providers with monitoring student health. Student care, such as meal delivery and emotional/spiritual support, will be offered to students for the duration of their quarantine or isolation period. Students are responsible to pay for the meals from their meal plan or student dollars.

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        Student Support and Resources


        During this unprecedented and difficult time, we want to continue to provide holistic support to our students. We know that many in our community are experiencing physical, emotional, spiritual, academic, relational and financial challenges. We encourage you to check out these resources and reach out if you would like support and care.

        *The safety standards above are based on guidelines and protocols issued by:

        • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (“LACDHS”)
        • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“LACDPH”)
        • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”)
        • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”)
        • California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (also known as Cal/OSHA)
        • American College Health Association (“ACHA”)
        • State of California, including California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”)
        • Biola University health experts
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