Test Result Update and Onboarding Quarantine Reminders
I hope that your first week of classes is off to a wonderful start. Thank you for all that you have done to prepare for your return to campus and for your patience and cooperation throughout our onboarding quarantine period. As I walked around campus the past several days, it is great to see so many of you outside enjoying the campus, the arboretum and the snow with friends. It is certainly not as warm as it was in August, but I encourage you to be outside with a friend or two as often as possible during these onboarding quarantine days.
We are off to a very good start to the semester in terms of COVID-19 cases. Here are some details:
Five students notified us that they were positive with COVID-19 through pre-arrival tests. They stayed home to recover and will be joining us on campus soon.
One student is positive with COVID-19 following a test on campus during the first round of testing.
No students had positive COVID-19 tests during the second round of tests on campus (Monday and Tuesday).
At this point in the onboarding quarantine period, there is a roughly a 40 percent chance that people who may have been infected with the virus before arriving on campus will become sick in the coming days. In conversations I’ve had with students recently, they’ve asked me to restate the purpose of the onboarding quarantine, so I’ll take a moment to mention it again in case it’s helpful to you.
We have just over 1,300 students on campus this semester. Given the prevalence of COVID-19 across the country, it is quite possible that many students were exposed to the virus before arrival on campus. This is why an onboarding quarantine is critical. With so many people coming to campus at once, we need an extended period of time to identify who may have contracted the virus before we have widespread contact with each other, If we cut the onboarding quarantine too short, we run the risk of developing COVID-19 case spikes or having a larger outbreak that prevents us from fully launching the spring semester, which none of us wants. Our protocols are designed first and foremost to keep everyone safe and healthy—and to reduce the prevalence of the virus on campus.
Your Monday/Tuesday test next week will be your final onboarding quarantine test. If you are negative, your onboarding quarantine is complete. If COVID-19 levels are low early next week, we will shift to Alert Level 2-Yellow and then, hopefully, move quickly to Alert Level 1-Green. Our goal is to create the conditions that allow you all to attend in-person classes; engage with friends; compete in sports; perform as an actor, dancer, or musician; and pursue all your passions through academic programs, clubs, organizations, centers and more. This semester, we must continue to rigorously follow our protocols so that we can enjoy the privilege of being together as a community.
Several of you have asked me about the blue bracelets and why you need to continue wearing them. At the moment, while most students who will be on campus this semester have already arrived, there are still some students who will be arriving over the next several days. As a result, we need the bracelets to identify those of you who have successfully completed testing at the Testing Center. For staff at the Gatehouse and Testing Center, the blue bracelets help ensure that we are onboarding everyone in the safest and most consistent manner possible.
There have also been concerns expressed about people eating inside together (e.g. in the Harris Atrium and in Cro). During onboarding quarantine you can eat with friends outside but not inside unless it is with a roommate or apartmentmate. We want to avoid situations where you are inside with your mask off while eating and in proximity to other people. Once we are out of onboarding quarantine, then you can eat inside with any friends while socially distanced.
I know that the onboarding quarantine is a particularly difficult period of time. Please take advantage of the resources that surround you here at Conn—talk to friends, participate in virtual programs offered (see emails or ConnQuest for details), reach out to faculty and staff and use counseling resources that include both individual and group opportunities (details on the Path Forward Student Guidance page and Student Counseling Services website).
Once again, thank you for your patience and cooperation. This is a campus-wide effort that will be successful if we all make safe and healthy choices. Doing so will allow us to connect with each other in person and experience the true joy of the amazing Conn community.
Dean of Students