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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / A hand sanitizer dispenser is seen on the field at Spears Stadium on the campus of McCallie School on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

With the delta variant spreading among unvaccinated individuals and children in particular, private schools and colleges in the Chattanooga area have varying levels of COVID-19 safety protocols and case reporting measures in place.

Sewanee - University of the South has imposed a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all students and staff, according to an Aug. 26 letter from Vice Chancellor Reuben E. Brigety II.

Religious and medical exemptions must be submitted by Wednesday, according to the letter, and campus community members must be fully vaccinated by Oct 5.

"Failure to provide proof of vaccination status or receive an approved exemption by Oct. 5 will result in a requirement to leave campus for students and will affect employment status for employees. Specific details will be sent separately to individuals who may not have met the vaccination requirement," the letter said, in part.

The school updates a COVID-19 data dashboard weekly on its website, including vaccination status of students and faculty, along with the number of positive and negative test results for students each week.

Southern Adventist University lists numbers of students and employees who were quarantined, isolated and recovered from COVID-19 cases or exposure. The school requires masks indoors for students, faculty and staff and does not require COVID-19 vaccines.

As of Tuesday, Southern's data dashboard listed 85 students quarantined, 18 isolated and 17 recovered, while the numbers for employees were four quarantined, three isolated and 13 recovered. The school has 2,390 undergraduate students, 348 graduate students and 171 full-time faculty, according to its website.

McCallie School was the first among Chattanooga-area private schools to require vaccines for students and staff in May. Because most students are vaccinated, the campus is mask-optional this year, said spokesperson Bill Steverson in a Tuesday email. The school does not have virtual learning this year.

"The number of cases is extremely low, near zero, for both active cases and those quarantined," Steverson said.

McCallie teaches day students in grades 6-12 and has boarding students in grades 9-12. The Pfizer vaccine is approved by the FDA for individuals age 12 and older, which leaves out a portion of sixth graders who have not yet turned 12.

Baylor School spokesperson Barbara Kennedy said in a Tuesday email that the school follows social distancing when possible and requires masks indoors when distancing is not possible.

Vaccines are recommended but not required, she said, and vaccinated campus community members do not have to quarantine if they have been exposed but are asymptomatic. When isolating or quarantined for a positive COVID-19 case, students can attend classes over Zoom.

Girls Preparatory School spokesperson Pamela Hammonds said in a Wednesday email that the school requires students, staff and visitors to wear masks in buildings. Neither GPS, McCallie nor Baylor provided numbers of students with active COVID-19 cases or in quarantine.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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