COVID-19 report: Going forward into the new year

Though Francis Marion University’s (FMU) COVID-19 guidelines are more relaxed due to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) protocol changes, the school stays focused on keeping the student body healthy.  

“We are going to continue to encourage people to get boosted and get vaccinated and monitor their symptoms,” Amy Shockley, student health nurse practitioner, said.   

For the first time since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020, FMU brought its students back to campus without masks or social distancing guidelines. The school may have relaxed its regulations following the CDC, but Shockley and Andy Matthews, student life specialist and COVID-19 response director, still encourage students to be vigilant about health and hygiene.   

“Mask and monitor,” Matthews said.  

Currently, no more social distancing guidelines are in place, but the school is still practicing isolation for positive COVID-19 cases. The isolation will last five days from the date of the test rather than the first appearance of symptoms. Once the isolation period is over, the student or faculty member will be required to wear a mask for an additional five days.  

According to the COVID-19 Protocols on isolation guidance, “if you are fever-free for the last 24 hours of your five-day isolation, you can resume normal activities on day six but must engage in strict masking around any individuals for five more days… No re-testing is needed.”  

A bit different from previous years, the policy on close contacts no longer requires isolation. Anyone in close contact is encouraged to monitor their symptoms for 48-72 hours from their exposure. If any symptoms appear, those exposed should get a COVID-19 test and follow the above guidelines if they test positive. While awaiting the results, FMU protocol suggests the student start isolating just in case.   

Though the main health focus in recent years has been COVID-19, several other diseases and viruses could spread on campus. Shockley said that flu outbreaks are common, and students should stay aware of more than just the coronavirus.  

Even if a COVID-19 test comes back negative, students are urged to stay home and wait until symptoms abate before returning to class or campus.   

“It could be COVID-19, but it could be something else that we could spread,” Shockley said.  

Matthews and Shockley said that the present health practices should follow common sense in terms of going back to basics (i.e. washing hands, wiping down menus, coughing into elbows, etc.). They encouraged students to resume the small sanitary habits learned in elementary schools.   

All information on the present COVID-19 guidelines can be found on the FMU website at The board is continuously monitoring CDC guidelines and is updated weekly.   

If students need to see or speak to Shockley, she can be found in the Health Services office on the second floor of the Smith University Center.