FHSU Fall 2021 COVID-19 update

BY CASANDRA GIBSON

VIDEO BY JUSTIN SABATA & DANZEL MAJOR

As the 2021-22 Fort Hays State University school year is underway, there are several questions many new — and returning — individuals are seeking answers to. Where are all of the buildings on campus? Will there be enough time to get to all of the classes on time?

However, one of the most important questions is, what is FHSU doing in regards to COVID-19?

For those wanting to get a vaccine, the Student Health and Wellness Center is offering both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but you must have an appointment. A student will need to call the office at (785) 628-4293 to schedule an appointment to receive either a first or second dose of the vaccines.

For any individual scheduling a second dose at the clinic, the Student Health and Wellness Center requires the person to bring the vaccination card with them. The Student Health and Wellness Center is also hosting another vaccination clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Black and Gold Room of the Memorial Union. Both of the vaccines will be available for the event, so students can get either the first or second dose.

In order to be eligible for the $400 incentive, those who have received a second dose will be given the paperwork that will need to be completed and turned into the office. To participate in the incentive program, students need to receive both the first and second shots of Pfizer, Moderna or even the single shot of Johnson & Johnson. The first shot of Moderna, Pfizer or a single shot of Johnson & Johnson needs to be completed on or before Sept. 7 to be eligible for the $400 incentive.

There are a few precautions Fort Hays is taking to be safe and to stay away from having to go virtual. William Stutterheim, assistant director of health and wellness, said some of the precautions the health department is taking are that they still highly encourage students to wear masks. The health department believes wearing a mask is extremely important, especially if a person has been exposed to a COVID case or even if they are not feeling well.

Stutterheim said even though he knows masks have been highly controversial, the masks have been proven to be a good strategy to help mitigate the spread of COVID. The health department is also providing testing in select locations of Residential Life using BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests. The tests have instructions from Student Health and Wellness for anyone who receives a positive result.

The Health Department also provides antigen and Rapid PCR tests on site. This will help the health department to receive an accurate answer within 15 to 30 minutes of administering the test. For anyone who might receive a positive test or has been exposed, the health department is working with Residential Life to help provide areas for isolation and quarantine to help limit the spread of COVID on campus. The health department is also working with the Ellis County Health Department to engage in contact tracing of positive cases.

Stutterheim said he watches the information about the vaccines carefully, and he talks with their medical director regularly. He said if he had to choose one thing, he would tell students he is a father of two young boys. Everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated in his family has been fully vaccinated because he knows the vaccines are the best option to protect him and his family. He said the vaccines are safe and effective, and the best path to enjoying a safe and healthy school year.

Stutterheim said his recommendations for being safe this school year are simple.

“For Fort Hays to make it through the school year safe and healthy, it is going to take all of the student body and staff to do our part to stop the spread of COVID,” he said. “Students/staff, get tested if you’re not feeling well.”

Stutterheim also asks people wear a mask if someone is waiting to get the results or might be getting sick and that the vaccine is the best way forward out of the pandemic. The more students who get vaccinated on campus, the harder it is going to be for the virus to spread, he said.

If students have any questions or would like to make an appointment, call the office at (785) 628-4293. The health department said that for anyone entering their office, visitors will be required to wear a mask. This is a standard requirement for health clinics in the Hays area; it’s also based on the guidance received from the medical director.

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