Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, and Chris Zappe, Provost, update the campus community about the results of the student arrival tests.
Dear Campus Community,
We are writing today with an update regarding the results of the student arrival tests that were conducted this past week, and with some additional guidance regarding masking and in-person instruction.
We have received results from students who tested on Monday, January 17, and Tuesday, January 18. Of the 1,199 arrival tests conducted on those two days, 70 were positive, or a 5.8% positivity rate among our student body. Nearly every student who has tested positive is asymptomatic, and for the few who are experiencing symptoms, the symptoms are mild.
We still have 550 outstanding results from students who tested on Wednesday, January 19, and Thursday, January 20. We hope to have those results returned soon. As a reminder, students who have not received a negative test result should work with their professor and make plans to study virtually.
As we communicated previously, the Omicron variant is of low severity but highly transmissible, and we expected to see a significant number of positive cases, especially early in the semester. We anticipate that we may continue to see a rise in positive cases over the next week or two before cases begin to decline, as they have been in Pennsylvania and the northeast. If patterns here and elsewhere hold, we also expect that the experience of asymptomatic or mild cases will continue.
Please note a few important updates and reminders:
- Testing: We will continue to test all students on a weekly basis for the next three weeks of the semester. We have secured rapid antigen tests that we will begin to use on Monday. This will enable us to more quickly identify students who test positive and move them into isolation space. Unvaccinated faculty and staff are also required to test weekly, and the testing center continues to welcome vaccinated faculty and staff who choose to test.
- KN95 mask distribution: The College has secured KN95 masks for the campus community. Students and employees can pick up one free mask from the Bullet Hole or Servo beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, January 24. KN95 masks can be worn for 5-7 days or for approximately 30 hours total if the masks remain dry. The College is looking to secure additional KN95 masks in the coming weeks. If you do not have a KN95 mask, please consider double masking in classes and group settings.
In-Person Classes at Faculty Discretion
Due to test results that have not yet been returned, the transition from PCR tests to rapid tests, and the early distribution of KN95 masks, the faculty have the option to teach remotely for the week of January 24 if that is their preference. We ask that the faculty be in touch with their students if they intend to hold classes remotely for all or part of this week. We expect that all faculty will teach in person starting the week of January 31.
Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students