Additional COVID-19 information and town hall reminder

Message sent on August 29, 2020

President Iuliano, Dr. Keeling, Dean Ramsey, and Provost Zappe inform the community about the College’s response to new cases and remind everyone to attend the Town Hall meeting on August 30 (tomorrow) at 1 p.m.

Good evening,

We are writing to follow up on the campus alert that was sent a few minutes ago and to add additional context. We understand that our detection of more cases on campus is both disappointing and concerning. We share those sentiments.

From what we currently know from the careful investigation of the positive cases and the contact tracing work that has been completed, it is clear that the great majority, if not all, of the positive cases are the result of transmission of the virus within specific groups—or clusters—of students. In some cases, they can be traced back to specific gatherings.

All students who have tested positive are in isolation. Some have decided to return home. Almost all of the students who have tested positive are asymptomatic—a finding that demonstrates the importance and value of our testing program. Contact tracing is being conducted and close contacts are being informed of the protocols they should follow from the Health Center. To date, no faculty or staff member has been identified as a close contact in any of the positive cases through the contact tracing process.

To contain and prevent further spread of the virus, the College is taking a number of immediate action steps, as outlined below. These steps, and others, will be discussed in more detail at tomorrow’s virtual town hall.

  • As noted yesterday, we will test the full membership of any groups or residences that have been identified as being engaged in any form, size, and nature of social gatherings linked to our positive cases, with the exception of those who are in isolation or at home. This testing will begin Monday.
  • While we await those test results, we have quarantined specific residences where we have observed a trend of positive results. Those students will learn remotely and should be in touch with their faculty members if the class is offered in person.
  • We are moving forward with immediate sanctions, up to and including suspension, of students who have clearly failed to comply with the College’s public health protocols and requirements. Greek leaders have suspended all pledging activities. Additionally, one sorority has been suspended as a result of a social gathering. A fraternity is also facing disciplinary consequences as a result of a social gathering without masks and physical distancing.
  • We are extending the restrictions established for this weekend until further notice. We may impose additional restrictions if further information or data warrant doing so. Individual students will be suspended or restricted from campus for any significant violation of the protocols for masks and physical distancing.

Given what we know about the clustered nature of positive tests, and the action steps taken above, classes will continue as planned for the coming week.

These steps are designed to allow our community to respond to the circumstances, informed by the testing results we have in hand. We take these steps with the full knowledge that we may need to adapt or expand these precautions as we learn more.

We strongly encourage you to attend the virtual town hall tomorrow where we will talk more about the health status of campus and the actions that are being taken in response.

Virtual Town Hall information

Tomorrow, Sunday, August 30, the College will host a virtual town hall at 1 p.m. EDT to provide a COVID-19 update to our community. All students are expected to attend. Faculty, staff, parents, and administrators are also encouraged to attend.

Community Town Hall: COVID-19 Update
Date: Sunday, August 30
Time: 1:00 PM (EDT)

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Bob Iuliano

Rich Keeling, M.D.
Keeling and Associates

Julie Ramsey
Dean of Students

Chris Zappe