Three students and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the University reopened campus for the fall semester. The students who tested positive are being cared for at the Inn at Middletown, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley. As of Thursday, September 3, 2020, a total of 5,699 student tests and 1,817 employee tests have been carried out.
“Though unfortunate, this is an occurrence we were well prepared for,” Medical Director Dr. Tom McLarney wrote in an all-campus email on Monday, Aug. 31. “The employees are taking the appropriate precautions, and the students, in the care of Health Services, are resting comfortably in supportive isolation. We have also initiated contact tracing, and close contacts have been notified for appropriate quarantine.”
For students, the three positive student test results signify a 0.05% positivity rate. For employees, the two positive employee test results have led to a 0.11% positivity rate.
“We have so far had very low positivity rates and good compliance so I remain optimistic about the semester, while acknowledging that the situation could change quickly,” Whaley wrote in an email to The Argus.
However, Whaley noted that the University has issued warnings to some students.
“We have had to make a few course corrections with some students and have issued some warnings when appropriate,” Whaley wrote. “We have not yet had to send anyone home or issue suspensions, and I sincerely hope we will not get to that point.”
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Frances Koerting echoed this statement, pointing out that students could be suspended for severe violations of University guidelines.
“Any egregious violation will result in the student being suspended,” Koerting wrote in an email to The Argus. “We do not have the luxury of warnings, as such a violation jeopardizes the health of others, and the continuance of students being able to remain on campus. I am very glad we have not yet had such a violation.”
Students living on campus for the fall semester moved into University housing between Aug. 24 and Aug. 30, and Koerting believes the COVID-19 guidelines for move-in were closely followed.
“I am so impressed with the ResLife staff and Orientation Leaders who helped with the week-long move in process,” Koerting wrote. “They did a phenomenal job. I am equally impressed by the compliance to the COVID-19 rules for moving in, particularly from the parents who were not able to enter the student residences. I’m sure that was especially difficult and disappointing for the parents of our first year students.”
All on-campus students are currently expected to quarantine until Monday, Sept. 7 regardless of where they travelled from, while students who travelled from outside of the US or from states on Connecticut’s affected states list are required to remain in quarantine until they meet the state’s 14-day requirement. So far, Whaley believes students have generally been abiding by the University’s quarantine guidelines.
“I think that the State-mandated arrival quarantine has been challenging, but am pleased with the high degree of compliance, mask-wearing, distancing, and other safety precautions,” Whaley wrote. “Clearly the vast majority of students are taking these measures seriously which is so very important if we hope to have an entire in-person semester together.”
In addition to following COVID-19 guidelines, Koerting and Whaley both stated that students correcting each others’ behavior has been effective in keeping campus safe.
“The vast majority [of students] have not only been following the guidelines, but also correcting behavior of fellow students who are not wearing masks or maintaining six foot distancing, or not complying with the quarantine policies,” Koerting wrote. “These corrections have been instrumental in reinforcing the behavior that is necessary for us to keep Wesleyan safe and healthy. We encourage all students to continue to do so.”
Whaley also emphasized the importance of all on-campus students complying with COVID-19 regulations and expressed optimism in the University’s plan moving forward.
“I think that we have a good plan in place and it will be successful as long as everyone on campus takes the appropriate safety precautions and follows the code of conduct,” Whaley wrote.
Jiyu Shin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jiyu_shin.