Dixie State ends remote learning, starts new semester as a ‘mask-friendly’ campus without a mandate

A sign on 700 East/University Boulevard points the way to the on-campus COVID-19 test site at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Aug. 11, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University freshmen had their first day on campus Wednesday, and with full classes commencing Monday, university officials say they will continue to encourage students and staff to wear masks in the absence of a mask mandate. 

A voluntary vaccination clinic held in the Gardner Ballroom in the spring semester of 2021, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University Marketing and Communication, St. George News

Garyn Gulbranson, director of the campus wellness center, said the university will comply with the law passed by the state Legislature that prohibits a face-covering requirement, adding that he hopes people will be courteous to others regardless of their mask-wearing decision. 

“Masks will not be mandated on campus; however, we are strongly encouraging what we call a mask-friendly campus,” Gulbranson said. “We encourage our students, faculty and staff to mask where they feel comfortable and to take basic public health measures.”

As far as vaccination, the university encourages all eligible people to receive the vaccine. To that end, Dixie State will be holding vaccination clinics during the fall semester. 

All clinics will be open to students, faculty and staff and will only accept walk-in patients. The first clinic will be held Sept. 1–2 in the Gardner Ballroom on campus, beginning each day at 8 a.m. and continuing into the early afternoon. A second clinic will be held Oct. 20, also in the Gardner Ballroom.

The drive-up test site at the Atwood Innovation Plaza on the Dixie State University campus, St. George, Utah, Aug. 11, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

“The biggest thing is, we really want to encourage vaccines,” Gulbranson said. “If you have questions or hesitancy about the vaccine, go talk to your health provider. The reality is that the vaccine is the safest route and one of the quickest ways we can get back to having things the way they were.”

Students who experience COVID-19 symptoms or who have been in close contact with other symptomatic individuals are also being encouraged to get tested, Gulbranson said. 

An on-campus test site located at the Atwood Innovation Plaza offers drive-up testing for free Monday through  Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or students can visit off-campus test sites like St. George Regional Hospital, Family Healthcare Medical Clinic or the TestUtah site on Tech Ridge.

Similar to previous semesters, the university encourages students and staff who are sick to self-report using the university’s form and then follow recommendations given by wellness center staff for quarantine or self isolation.

Jyl Hall, director of public relations for the university, said she hopes this next semester can be as normal as possible. Some of the adjustments for coursework and class attendance that were instituted in response to the pandemic have been removed, she said.

Free COVID testing is available at the on-campus test site located behind the Atwood Innovation Plaza at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Aug. 11, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

“We’re not having remote learning this semester, so everything’s back to normal,” Hall said. “If a class is advertised as an in-person class, it will be held in-person. Not so much this last semester but the year before there was a distinction between online classes that were enrolled that way and always intended to be held that way and the remote learning classes.”

Gulbranson said the university will continue to update its protocols and recommendations based on advice from the local public health department and feedback from faculty and students.

As of Monday, there were six new cases among students and staff in the last week, according to data released by the university. There have been a total of 14 confirmed cases since May 1.

For more information and for updates on the Dixie State response, visit the university’s COVID-19 webpage.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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