As Utah State University prepares for a return to in-person learning this fall, students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to reinforce their conviction to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by voluntarily pledging to follow the university’s safety guidelines.
The USU Protection Pledge states that individuals will take on the personal responsibility to do their part to limit the impact of coronavirus as the main campus in Logan and USU’s Statewide Campuses are re-populated in the coming weeks.
“We came up with USU Protection Pledge as a way to put into words the concept that we are all in this together, and that we’ll do what we can for ourselves, as well as others around us, as part of our learning community at Utah State University,” said Heidi Kesler, director of Student Retention and Completion.
“If we have thousands of students, faculty and staff that sign the pledge, it will help everyone know that they’re not the only ones trying to follow the guidelines. Rather, they’re just one of thousands who are trying to help support one another and keep everyone safe.”
Kesler is a member of a special committee created by USU President Noelle Cockett known as the COVID Student Life Stabilization Group. Chaired by Vice President for Student Affairs James Morales, the committee has been tasked with making USU’s campuses as safe as possible as students return to school for in-person learning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed down classrooms last March.
“We are so excited to come back together, in person, in our Utah State University community,” Morales said. “Right now, this opportunity comes with responsibility — both collective and personal. Students, faculty, and staff all share the job of looking out for each other by following state and university guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We can do this if we each do our part.”
USUSA President Sami Ahmed, who is also a member of the COVID Student Life Stabilization Group, said he understands how important it is for students to interact with others and also knows that the student body wants USU to function as normally as it can in order to create a fun and educational college experience.
“There is a possible path where things can be close to what we would have during a normal semester, and that includes the steps that are found in this pledge and taking these health precautions,” Ahmed said. “If we want to continue to have in-person classes and activities on our campuses and centers, that path requires that we take these protective measures. And that’s what I see the role of the pledge is, to remind you to take these steps if you want things to be as close to normal as possible and insure that our classes and facilities stay open.”
Utah State University is closely following guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it prepares to re-populate its campuses, and Cockett has emphasized the need for USU students and employees to actively practice four principles: wear face coverings; social distance at six feet or more when possible; exercise good hygiene, with frequent hand washing; and stay at home when sick.
“These relatively simple principles have held up through this whole pandemic as ways that you can reduce the risk of infection to yourself and others,” President Cockett said. “So, we hold those four conditions very central in how we have planned to unroll fall semester. And we hope those continue to be successful and that all of our campus and center communities embrace those conditions, and therefore, allow us to keep going forward into spring semester and beyond.”
The four primary methods to limit the spread of COVID-19 repeatedly reiterated by Cockett make up the core of the USU Protection Pledge, which stresses the need for USU students, faculty and staff to: Protect Myself, Protect Others and Protect Our Community.
Protect Myself includes frequent washing of hands, avoiding activities where social distancing is difficult and monitoring one’s own health, including testing for COVID-19 if certain symptoms are present.
Protect Others suggest that Aggies will practice social distancing whenever possible, wear face coverings when required and remain at home if they are sick, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
And under Protect Our Community, signees will pledge to follow all CDC and university updates on health and safety guidelines and procedures, participate in testing and contact tracing and complete and submit a questionnaire to USU Risk Management if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
“I think it’s a really great idea to put an emphasis on our responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to the entire community,” Kesler said. “One thing we’ve come to recognize is that COVID-19 doesn’t treat everyone equally. So, even though you might not be someone who is considered at high-risk to be heavily impacted by the virus, you might have a professor or a roommate who is in that category, and that’s why you follow the guidelines.
“I think that’s one thing that really sets Utah State University apart,” Kesler said. “Being a member of the Aggie family isn’t just a catch phrase. We look out for one another. It really is a way of life, and that includes the faculty, the staff and students.”
To pledge to do your part in limiting the spread of the coronavirus at Utah State University, please visit protect.usu.edu to review the recommendations found in the USU Protection Pledge. And for additional information on USU’s response to COVID-19, visit usu.edu/covid-19.