COVID-19 protocols loosen as policies change on campus


Infographic by Elisa Zody — Digital and Multimedia Editor

As Cal Lutheran heads into the fall 2022 semester, COVID-19 protocols are changing.

Kennedy Lum, Reporter

On Monday, Aug. 29, California Lutheran University students were welcomed back on campus with new COVID-19 protocols. Emergency Operations Director Ryan Van Ommeren continues to have confidence in the cabinet that decides COVID-19 protocols across campus. 

“We have an advisory group called the Pandemic Planning Group…we talk about prospective policy changes. The question that’s going to be debated by both this group and the cabinet is how strict they are in terms of exemptions from the vaccine,” Van Ommeren said.

Currently, only traditional undergraduate students are required to be vaccinated, whereas graduate and bachelor’s degree for professionals students are not.

Cal Lutheran pandemic planning has also discontinued the online health check, which activated student IDs to allow access to campus buildings. Now, the online portal is for students to monitor any symptoms on their own. According to the Cal Lutheran KNOW website, since Friday, Aug. 26, there have been a total of 50 reported cases of COVID-19 on the Thousand Oaks campus. In total, Cal Lutheran has had 494 cases since March 2020.

“We are most likely going to do a vaccine clinic this semester before cases rise from the Thanksgiving holiday,” Van Ommeren said. “Around November first there is usually a pretty serious surge of people that get COVID-19.”

Cal Lutheran has taken precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of students by having houses on campus for isolation, as well as easy vaccine accessibility, and strongly recommending masks be worn indoors.

There have been many changes to COVID-19 protocol, and Assistant Dean of Students Christine Paul has helped the Cal Lutheran community have a smooth transition into the fall semester.

It is difficult to develop policies and protocols when the virus changes, infection rates rise and fall, and for a full community of people that have different wants and needs,” Paul said.

COVID-19 has brought forth unprecedented times. Van Ommeren said this pandemic has been a testament to the Cal Lutheran community. Students and faculty alike have been receptive to sometimes sudden rule changes. 

Students can receive a COVID-19 rapid test at the Health Services office if symptoms occur. Health Services also provides at-home test kits for staff and students.

Director of Health Services Saul Miller has been the main point of contact for questions and concerns related to COVID-19. Miller had a lot to say in terms of the negative stigma around COVID-19.

“There is much stigmatization around the disease, whereby people often unconsciously blame the person who got sick for their illness. The reality is that no one wants to be ill or get COVID-19, and we should not blame people for being sick,” Miller said. “We all do our best to live safely, but sometimes we catch diseases, regardless of how many precautions we might have taken.”

Many of the guidelines put into place are a cumulation of knowledge from committee members’ research in their fields, other universities’ protocols and the Ventura County Health Department. Cal Lutheran has done its best to align with Public Health recommendations, Miller said.

Cal Lutheran has done an excellent job in making policies that are reasonable, evidence-based, and in line with the most current Public Health recommendations,” Miller said. “We need to support our sick and vulnerable populations as best we can.”

Any changes to COVID-19 protocol can be monitored through Cal Lutheran’s website, and students can report exposure or a positive test on the site as well. For any additional information about COVID-19, visit the official Center for Disease Control website or talk to a healthcare provider.