COVID-19 Campus Update

Colleagues:

We begin by saying thank you for the extraordinary work to this point. From safety protocols, to redesigned courses and processes, to continued advocacy for our students, we are very grateful for the can-do spirit of our institution. With cases of COVID-19 beginning to increase in our region, we ask for your continued emphasis on the basics: wearing masks, distancing of 6 feet when possible, and washing your hands.

Holiday gatherings

As we near the holiday season, offices and departments are asked to seek alternatives to the traditional gatherings involving food that we have so fondly come to embrace on our campus. When we eat together, whether in small or large groups, we place our community at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. While we know this will be disappointing for many, we all want to do to our part to stay healthy during our valued and much-anticipated time away from the office.

Reporting procedures

We continue to have some questions about the numbers reported on our webpage. As a reminder, reported cases are divided as students and employees and the sum equals all reported cases since July 1, 2020. Active cases are also divided as students and employees and represent all currently active cases on campus. Note that the active number changes with both recoveries of ill individuals and new confirmed cases. As an example we may have 3 new cases and 2 recoveries and the net change is 1 case.

We also would like to take this opportunity to explain, in a bit more detail, how the campus contact tracing and reporting works. When a report is received of either a positive case (requires the individual to isolate), or of a symptomatic or close-contact of a positive case (requires quarantine), faculty and classmates of the student(s) are quickly notified and the student(s) is required to quarantine or isolate, as appropriate. This action immediately addresses the health and safety concerns of the potentially affected individuals. Campus contact tracers then begin communicating with the affected student(s) and employees, verifying the information before reporting publicly. Simply put, most reports we receive are confirmed. We have, however, received some reports that the contact tracers have determined to be inaccurate. But, out of an abundance of caution, we quickly notify faculty and students on all reports received. It is for this reason that cases are publicly reported only after verification, which may take one to three days. Please note however, that all individuals potentially affected are notified via personal email as quickly as possible.

In addition, you may notice fluidity in the quarantine numbers. When a student who resides on-campus tests positive, is defined as a close-contact to a positive case, or has an outstanding test, the student and the student’s roommate(s) are required to quarantine. Again, this is out of an abundance of caution. To do otherwise would potentially allow positive individuals to interact on campus while awaiting test results. If the roommate’s test returns negative, for example, all students in that environment are released from quarantine. As such, you will see some students entering quarantine one day and exiting the next.

We hope this further clarifies the actions taken on campus and the reporting structure. Again, thank you for your continued efforts to maintain a healthy and safe campus environment.

James Johnston, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(CV), FASRT
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Keith Lamb, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs