COVID-19 Protocols Changing for UT Health San Antonio

COVID-19 protocols are changing for UT Health San Antonio to remain consistent with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to align with Texas Governor Abbott’s executive order dated May 18, 2021.

Based on updated CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals who are learning and working on our campuses may resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Governor Abbott’s executive order provides guidelines for governmental entities in Texas including institutions of higher education to follow the Texas Education Agency’s school guidance that follows current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4.

UT Health San Antonio’s revised COVID protocol guidance takes effect June 1, 2021, except where otherwise noted. Below are specific changes for our university along with recommendations from infectious disease experts to remain diligent and minimize risk.

Masking

  • UT Health San Antonio will maintain a masking mandate for all UT Health clinical areas based on the recommendation of Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner, John Hellerstedt, MD.
  • Masks will not be required in non-clinical settings but remain strongly encouraged especially for those who have not been fully vaccinated and for those who are immunocompromised.
  • Faculty, trainees, students and staff who have not yet been fully vaccinated or who are immunocompromised are strongly encouraged to continue wearing masks in all UT Health facilities.

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing is no longer required, however in patient care settings, we will continue with social distancing at 3 feet.
  • Seat spacing in outpatient waiting rooms will remain in place with every other seat available.
  • Classroom and cubicle occupancy can resume at 100%.
  • There is no occupancy limit in elevators.
  • Patients can now bring a visitor to any appointment.

Environmental Cleaning

  • Return to normal daily environmental cleaning practices.

Screening/COVID Testing

  • Temperature and symptom screening will continue for patients and visitors at our health care locations.
  • Temperature and symptom screening will continue for employees working at locations providing patient care.
  • Temperature and symptom screening will discontinue for employees working in non-patient care locations.
  • Drive-up Covid testing facilities are decommissioned
  • Faculty, staff and students strongly encouraged to self-screen for symptoms. Mandatory reporting of symptoms is no longer required to Wellness 360 (Employee/Student Health).
  • Testing is available as needed during normal hours of operation.
  • Contact tracing and reporting of positive COVID cases to Employee Health/Student Health continues unchanged.

Operations

  • Research labs can now operate at full capacity.
  • Vendors may return to campus and follow standard procedures for working at various UT Health locations.
  • Keycard access is now open at additional building entrances.
  • On campus dining facilities will work to return to normal operations, no social distancing required, all dining tables and chairs will be open.
  • Communal food settings are still not recommended, but buffet service can be provided by designated persons and individual meals can be served.
  • Cafeteria-style and plated meals served by food service workers to include events can resume.
  • Recreational areas on campus including athletic activities will reopen.
  • Gold’s Gym including indoor team sports are returning to normal operations.

Events

  • In-person continuing medical/dental/nursing education events will resume.
  • In-person general public events will resume.
  • Off-campus university events including in-person continuing education will resume.

Travel

As previously communicated by President Henrich, planning can begin for business travel occurring on or after July 1, 2021. Travel policies and procedures as defined by the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) 6.2 remain in place.

As a reminder, international business trips must be registered and overseas business travel to high-risk areas requires review and approval by the International Oversight Committee (IOC) in accordance with HOP 15.2 and UT  System Policy 190. Please be advised that The University of Texas System has directed that all international travel must be considered high risk through Dec. 31, 2021, regardless of the travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department.

The criticality of travel should be carefully measured. All travel remains highly complex and presents potential threats to the health and safety of our campus community. Business operations may also be impacted by changing reentry restrictions and possible quarantine requirements.

If approved to travel abroad, the following safety precautions, as currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should be taken.

  • Do not travel internationally until fully vaccinated (2 weeks after a 1-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after a 2-dose vaccine).
  • Wear a mask, maintain social distance, and sanitize regularly during travel.
  • To gain entry back into the U.S., all passengers, including vaccinated individuals, must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before travel.
  • Get tested 3-5 days after travel.
    • If vaccinated, self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • If unvaccinated, stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel even if you test negative.
    • If you are not sick and can work from home upon return from your trip, there is no need to take sick or vacation leave during this quarantine period. Simply work from home during this time.
    • If the travel was for personal reasons and you can’t work from home, then vacation or personal leave should be used during this quarantine period since the travel is not required for your job.
    • If the travel was for business purposes and you can’t work from home, then emergency leave may be available during this quarantine period. Contact Leave Administration to request the use of emergency leave.
  • If you don’t get tested after travel, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel whether vaccinated or not.
    • If you are not sick and can work from home upon return from your trip, there is no need to take sick or vacation leave during this quarantine period. Simply work from home during this time.
    • If the travel was for personal reasons and you can’t work from home, then vacation or personal leave should be used during this quarantine period since the travel is not required for your job.
    • If the travel was for business purposes and you can’t work from home, then emergency leave may be available during this quarantine period. Contact the Leave Administrator to request the use of emergency leave.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10-14 days after travel. Isolate and get tested if symptoms develop. Avoid being around people who are high risk for 14 days.

The Office of International Services can provide additional travel information and updates. Email abroad@uthscsa.edu or call (210) 567-6241.

COVID-19 Hotline/Website

  • Decommissioning of the COVID-19 on-campus hotline. Calls Employee Health & Wellness 360 at 210-567-2788 with occupational health questions
  • COVID-19 website will be updated
  • COVID-19 email address remains unchanged

Additional Guidance

  • Symptom screening stations at clinical facilities will continue for patients and visitors
  • Temporary signage for public events will be used to strongly encourage unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask

These updated policies will be modified as necessary following State, Federal and Local guidelines and will be predicated on local rates of COVID-19 infection, community-based transmission, and COVID-19 infections at UT Health San Antonio.

Additional information will be published on issues related to COVID when more information is available including the durability of neutralizing antibodies; understanding if there could be a future need for COVID boosters; what is the impact or transmission of SARS-COV-2 variants of concern and the impact of new variants on vaccine efficacy.