COVID-19 Student Handbook Policy

Introduction


Biola University’s Spring 2021 semester will begin as planned on January 25 with the majority of classes delivered remotely, and students will be invited to return to campus in three phases. In early January, intercollegiate athletes (based on NCAA guidelines) and students already approved to live on campus in the spring will move onto campus. Students who are enrolled in specifically designated eligible courses will be invited back to campus in the days leading up to Feb. 15, 2021. In the days leading up to March 1, all other students who wish to live on campus, as well as commuter students, will be welcomed back in Phase 3. We expect to implement this third phase based on our anticipation that by that time, we will be relieved of the more significant county restrictions. We will continue with our strong support of remote learning for those who choose not to return to campus. This phased-in approach will allow us to bring students back to campus in stages, helping us prepare for a safe campus and legal repopulation as well as assisting faculty in the complexities of their course preparation. 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. Regardless of your intent to access campus every student enrolled in the spring semester will be required to complete the Health Module which includes watching a brief health video and signing an Agreement to Abide by Safety Standards, Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk and Release/Waiver of Liability (Agreement). While COVID-19 does not appear to pose a significant risk of death to most members of our community while we conduct the majority of courses remotely , 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 have been permitted to live 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 Spring 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. 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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Campus Access


Per county order at this time, only a limited number of students who are approved to be on campus due to the requirements of their programs may return in person for classes. Per LA County regulations, all students who are living on campus or taking in-person classes are required to get an immunization against influenza, which is available at the Student Health Center.

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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 and Campus Safety staff will be enforcing the standards that are set. 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 and you will receive a citation from Campus Safety. 

  • A first violation of these safety standards will result in a warning. 
  • A second violation will result in a $100 fine. 
  • A third violation will result in the immediate loss of your ability to be on campus (including housing). 

If your behaviors/choices off-campus are putting our on-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 Spring 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.
  • Practice physical distancing by leaving at least 6ft of space from yourself and others.
  • Maintain personal hygiene (i.e., routine hand washing) and health
  • Wear face masks or cloth face coverings at all times except for when you are in your room alone or the bathroom.
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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 and routine surveillance testing will be required for all students and faculty involved in in-person classes or living on campus. Upon return to campus, residential students will be required to take a COVID-19 saliva based PCR test prior to check-in, and they will be required to quarantine in their room until the results return (approximately 36-48 hours). Meals and student support will be available during this time. Commuters and faculty will need to report for testing as instructed by the Health Center before their return to campus. Students and faculty living on or accessing campus will be required to take a COVID test twice a month. COVID-19 surveillance testing will be free of charge when students and faculty make their scheduled time as assigned by the Health Center. If students miss their testing appointment without prior approval from the Health Center they will be charged for the missed test and will need to cover the cost of a new test. In addition they will lose access to campus (ID Blocked) until testing has been resolved.

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?
  • 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, 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, 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 Residence Life and Housing 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, the student will be tested and asked to self-isolate in his or her dorm room until the test results are received.

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. Students and all others on campus will be expected to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others. We encourage all persons to refrain from physical contact with others while on campus and off campus, with only family members you know have been adhering to recommended safety precautions.

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.

Meetings

  • Meetings should continue to take place via an electronic medium (e.g. Zoom or Google Meet)
  • Attending an on-campus gathering larger than the number of people allowed in that space (COVID-19 Occupancy) or hosting an on-campus gathering larger than the number of people allowed in that space (COVID-19 Occupancy) will result in disciplinary action.
  • No social gatherings are allowed on campus.

Digital Files

  • Continued use of digital files rather than paper formats is encouraged when possible in order to avoid contact with surfaces others have touched and to support remote working and learning.

Elevators and Stairs

  • Students are encouraged to use the stairs in campus buildings whenever possible.
  • When waiting for the elevator, maintain physical distancing.
  • Most elevators should be limited to two occupants per cab when 6 feet physical distance can be maintained, otherwise only one occupant at a time is allowed. If more than one person is in the elevator, talking should be avoided.
  • Students should wear a face covering while traveling in an elevator alone or with another occupant and are directed to refrain from talking.
  • Avoid touching the elevator buttons with bare hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers upon departing the elevator.

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, 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), and a 20-21 flu vaccine (for all students accessing campus for any reason during the spring semester). Please upload a complete vaccine record prior to the start of the spring 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.

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.

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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 on campus are required to wear a face covering that covers both their nose and mouth at all times anywhere on campus including when participating in any Biola-sponsored activity where there may be other people. Students are not required to wear face coverings when on campus in their own personal living space, while actively eating in the dining halls, 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. Biola will be providing all students with one Biola-branded cloth face covering upon arrival, but students are encouraged to have additional masks as well to account for the frequency of usage.

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Residence Halls Required Protocols


Only a limited number of students who fall within the government guidelines are eligible to live on campus. We are currently able to provide housing for students who:

  • Have no alternative housing options.
  • Are enrolled in programs providing training and instruction for essential workforce. For these students, housing may only be offered to students who must participate in in-person instruction in order to complete their training and who do not have alternative local housing options
  • Are student athletes who are participating in NCAA intercollegiate athletics; campus housing will be offered in the small training cohorts as prescribed by the state guidance.

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

Safety and Health Measures

  • One student will be assigned per bedroom.
  • Students will only be able to access the residence hall or apartment in which they live. Non-residents, including outside guests, nonresidential staff, and others are prohibited, except for essential visitors, such as personal care attendants for students with disabilities.
  • To the extent feasible, students should remain in their individual rooms while in on-campus housing.
  • All students will be required to wear face coverings in the residence halls and apartments. (Exceptions: personal bedroom, bathroom when showering or brushing teeth)
  • Students are required to maintain appropriate physical distancing of 6 feet in the residence halls; students may momentarily come closer when passing in hallways or stairwells, riding elevators, when in restrooms, or as otherwise necessary.
  • Common areas (e.g., kitchens, community rooms, lobbies, lounges, study areas) have been closed.
  • 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 open hours.
  • No social events or activities are permitted as per current local and state health officer orders.
  • Co-curricular programming/outreach will focus on one-on-one and small-group connections.
  • There will be no overnight guests or visitors in the residence halls and apartments except during specified times (e.g. move-in day) and 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 in their rooms. We have designated such spaces which are separated physically from other students.

Quarantine and Isolation

Quarantine and isolation protocols will be followed closely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Students 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 expert
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