Immediate notification of COVID-19 status

Message sent on August 13, 2020

Bill Lafferty, AVP for College Life and Executive Director of Public Safety, notified the community of five (5) positive COVID-19 cases among Gettysburg College students.

Dear Campus Community Member:

As a result of the College’s proactive mass testing protocol during move-in, five Gettysburg College students have tested positive for COVID-19. This return of positive cases was entirely predicted based on the number of students being tested, and we should expect more positive cases in the next few days as we complete our testing protocol. Please keep in mind that our baseline testing approach of all students was intended to identify positive cases and isolate them quickly from the campus community.

The students are currently isolating in a designated isolation space or have gone home. Those persons who may have come into “close contact” with these students are being directly notified, encouraged to self-quarantine and remain alert for COVID-19 symptoms—fever and cough, fever and shortness of breath, or a combination of all three.

According to the CDC, close contact is defined as: being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time (about 15 minutes); close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case - or - having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on, sharing utensils, keyboard, writing instruments). Close contacts who are not symptomatic should self-monitor and contact their healthcare provider if symptoms arise. Close contacts who are symptomatic should self-isolate and practice physical distancing. To protect the privacy of employees and students, the names of individuals testing positive will not be released to the public.

In the future, the College will assess each report of a COVID-19 positive case individually, based on the circumstances at the time, and decide whether the report represents a broader health and safety concern to the campus community. In that case, a notification will be sent informing students who are currently on campus and all employees. Not every single report of a positive COVID-19 case will warrant an individual immediate notification; however, the community will be informed of any significant updates or changes in cases, such as multiple reported cases, signs of community spread, etc. Regular updates of positive COVID-19 cases on campus will be provided on a recurring basis via a general email to campus and on the college’s reopening website.

According to CDC Risk Categories, the risk level is “low” for those in general contact with persons who test positive. According to the CDC, persons coming into general contact with a symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test case does not meet the definition of “close contact” and is considered a low risk level.

We continue to ask that all members of our community take steps to ensure that we all stay as healthy as possible, including:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food, after going to the bathroom and after you have been around someone who is sick. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses and utensils.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw it away.

Please do not reply to this email or call the Department of Public Safety. If you have a question, please check the Frequently Asked Questions: If your question is not answered by the website, please email Additionally, the phone bank will be set temporarily to answer questions regarding this announcement. You can reach the phone bank at 717-337-8800 between the hours of 10:30am–4:00pm.

Bill Lafferty P’09
Assistant Vice President for College Life
Executive Director of Public Safety