COVID-19 Related Concerns and Alert Level Change

Dear Students, 

Good morning! I hope that you were able to enjoy the clear blue skies this past weekend. It was wonderful to see so many of you walking around campus, engaging with friends, practicing with your teammates, and enjoying Oasis on Saturday night and the food trucks on Sunday afternoon. As we moved into Alert Level 2-Yellow last week, our campus started to come alive; but in order to continue operating in this way, it is imperative that you wear your mask when you're around others who are not roommates/apartmentmates. This weekend, I heard about a variety of concerns from students that I need to address with everyone:

  • Meals On-Campus: A key time when masks are not worn is when you are eating meals. It is therefore imperative that when you are eating with others, everyone must be at least six feet apart. You can’t sit directly across from each other and most certainly should not be sitting in a booth. The booths in Oasis, for example, are for one person and not two. When you eat with a friend, please arrange the seating so that you are at least six feet apart. When you finish eating, please put your mask back on. 

  • Restaurants: I’ve received reports from students that some of you have gone to eat at restaurants off campus. During your onboarding meetings and in my letters to you, I was very clear that eating inside at restaurants is not permitted. It is an easy place to contract the virus and to bring it back onto our campus. You can order restaurant takeout and have food delivered to campus, but do not eat inside a restaurant or wait inside for your food pick-up. 

  • Study Spaces: When you are studying in the library, classroom spaces, Cro and other spaces across campus, you must wear a mask. This weekend I learned that some of you are gathering at tables in the library and in collaboration spaces without wearing masks. Please follow the classroom use expectations detailed in the Student Guidance page and follow the building specific instructions provided by the Shain Library staff. Simply put, when you are studying outside of your room, you must wear a mask. 

  • Outdoor Events: We want to continue to host outdoor events like we did this weekend with the food trucks. We have a lot planned for the spring semester but in order for us to implement these plans we need everyone to socially distance. At Sunday’s event, everyone was wearing masks and was outside, which are two critical components to lower the risk of viral spread. Maintaining social distancing is the third important component that I ask you to consistently follow when we host programs like this.

As we move into our fourth week, classes start in person and we are continuing to open up spaces, programming and ways to connect with each other. Last week we had two positive student cases early in the week and no positives on Thursday and Friday. Given the low levels of COVID-19, we are moving the campus to Alert Level 1-Green effective today.

Please review the Student Guidance page to understand the details about the expectations while in Alert Level 1-Green. The main benefits of going Green on campus are twofold: (1) you will now be able to visit with friends in residence halls other than your own (note that your ID will not allow you access to all houses as in a typical year; a resident of the building will need to let you into their hall), and (2) over the next several days our dining halls and coffee shops will begin to support a small amount of inside seating. Please be patient as the changes are implemented. It continues to be very important that you stay on campus. Please do not leave campus to visit New London County locations unless it is essential. Do not leave New London County unless it is due to extenuating circumstances and you have received prior approval.      

Getting to this point represents a lot of hard work on everyone’s part, and so, to mark the occasion, you are invited to enjoy a treat when you get tested. On Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 22 and 23, Dude’s Donuts Truck will be at the Testing Center between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. with hot apple cider and cider donuts free to the first 800 people coming through. 

Staying Green is, of course, contingent on continued low prevalence of COVID-19 on campus. Please do your part to keep COVID-19 off our campus and prevent it from spreading. If we see the number of cases rise, we will shift back to Yellow. Let’s stay Green!

Sincerely, 

Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students