College updates health guidelines for fall

Brandon Donner, Managing Editor

Dallas College updated its health and safety guide to help students, staff and faculty stay safe from illnesses and combat new threats.

In an Aug. 15 collegewide email, Sharon Davis, chief business continuity officer, said, “We are continuing to see a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in Dallas County.” Davis said a similar spike was observed within the college at time. “I want to reiterate to everyone that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over,” Davis said. “As a result, we must remain diligent in our efforts to stay safe and healthy.”

Davis shared resources with employees to educate and inform students, staff and faculty of the signs, symptoms and recommended course of action in case of an infection.

Recommendations include getting vaccinated and/or boosted, using masks indoors, seeking testing if COVID-19 symptoms arise and completing a self-reporting via the Positive Infectious Disease Reporting form on eConnect. After filling out the form, they are contacted by a member of the Business Continuity Office to gather additional information, provide resources, discuss isolation and address any questions or concerns the individual may have.

The policy update came after the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ Aug. 5 emergency declaration due to the emergence of monkeypox in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I want to stress that this declaration is not cause for panic,” Jenkins said. “This is a declaration that we will use to try to open more doors to get vaccines faster, because we know ultimately, vaccination is what we need to get monkeypox under control.”

According to Dallas County Health and Human Services, there were 224 confirmed monkeypox cases in Dallas County alone as of Aug. 8, the highest among Dallas-Fort Worth area counties.

In a Sept. 14 email update, Davis said, no additional cleaning or masking protocols would be put in place for Dallas College since over 99.9% of monkeypox cases have been spread via sexual skin-to-skin contact.

Monkeypox cases are being tracked anonymously on a dashboard similar to the COVID-19 dashboard, Davis said.

Monkeypox is not a widely studied disease. As new information develops and new protocols are recommended, Dallas College will take required action that is needed, Davis said.