September 10, 2021
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
Ten days ago, as I welcomed you at Convocation to a new academic year, I enjoined all of us to “be more” as a community. You have certainly answered that call in the past few days, responding with generosity and understanding as we made the rapid shift to Alert Level 3-Orange on Tuesday. I want to thank you for that and, as this week comes to a close, review what we are doing to return to normal operations as quickly and safely as possible.
Before the start of the semester, we reinstated our rigorous testing protocol as an added layer of protection for our community in light of the more contagious Delta variant. Students experiencing symptoms were tested at Student Health Services, helping us detect the initial rise in cases, and our regular PCR testing in Dayton Arena made it possible for us to act quickly to reduce community spread:
- All students who tested positive were moved to isolation housing to safeguard the rest of the community. Because nearly all of the positive students, like our student body, are fully vaccinated, they have been experiencing milder symptoms for the most part. No one is hospitalized. I am grateful to our staff in student life and dining for the care they have been providing to everyone.
- Contact tracing allowed us to identify members of the community who may have had close interactions with the students who tested positive.
- Classes resumed Wednesday in a remote format that will continue through the beginning of next week. I am grateful to our faculty and students, too, for adapting so quickly to this temporary change.
- To reduce spread even further, we implemented new protocols across campus. Masks are one of the most effective means to stop airborne transmission of the virus. As another temporary measure, we limited the size of student social gatherings.
- Finally, we asked all students to curtail travel beyond the campus gates, while encouraging everyone to take advantage of our incredible grounds for outdoor socializing and dining. As I walk about the campus, I can see students taking that advice to heart.
Our local department of public health and our partners at Hartford HealthCare have strongly supported these measures. We are hopeful that the steps we are taking will result in a declining number of cases. As we see downward trends, we should be able to relax restrictions and return to more normal operations. If we all pull together that could happen even sooner. I know we can do it.
In my Convocation address, I asked us not to forget what a precious thing it is to call this college our home; not to forget how much compassion is required to remain in community during trying times. I know this week has challenged us all, but it has also shown what this community is capable of.
Our amazing staff in student life have not only been running a testing center for the second year in a row, but also ferrying students to off-campus locations, making daily health checks, and supporting our students in so many ways.
Our staff in dining have been preparing food for pick up on campus and delivering meals to student rooms.
Our staff in custodial services have been taking extra care to ensure the cleanliness of our buildings.
Our staff in the dean of the college, DIEI, the ARC, the Walter Commons, the Hale Center, and beyond have been advising students about every possible concern.
Our staff in communications have been keeping everyone informed.
Our staff in the library have been supporting all modes of instruction.
Above all, our faculty have been organizing talks and lectures, holding auditions and rehearsals, and delivering the highest caliber of teaching online.
And our students, as ever, have been open, generous, and resilient.
Across all these groups I have seen countless acts of individual kindness and expressions of care for the well-being of all. Together, you have demonstrated what it means to be more as a community.
These are not normal times, but clearly we are all learning to adapt. With your continued commitment, I know we will be able to return to campus life as we were living it when this school year began. Thank you for doing everything you can to make that happen soon.