The University announced a revised set of guidelines for the second week of campus-wide quarantine in an all-campus email sent by Dean Rick Culliton on Monday, Feb. 15. The email said that the decision came after careful consideration of current COVID-19 rates on campus, which numbered a total of six students and three staff as of Thursday, Feb. 18.
“We have been able to maintain positivity rates well below the levels predicted by our modeling despite the new variants of COVID in the U.S.,” Culliton wrote in the email to students. “Thanks to your cooperation, we are making modifications to the second week of quarantine for everyone who arrived by February 8 and has had two or more negative on-campus COVID tests. That said, it remains crucial that students continue to stay on campus through the end of quarantine.”
The new guidelines allow students to use dorm common areas in groups of four or fewer people, exercise or walk around campus in groups of that same number, mingle with those living on their floor, and access the mailboxes in Usdan. Students can also now use the seating at Usdan Café for study purposes and schedule the use of private spaces in various buildings on campus through Room Request (EMS). Students who live in apartments and wood frames are now permitted to not wear masks within their living spaces, although visitors are still forbidden.
Despite the relaxed guidelines, the libraries and fitness center will remain closed until the end of the campus-wide quarantine on Feb. 21.
Culliton explained that the revised quarantine rules still depend on students complying with COVID-19 guidelines.
“The Pandemic Planning committee reviewed our current COVID-19 testing results and the level of cooperation that we have had with the arrival processes (pre-arrival tests and student cooperation with mask wearing and distancing),” Culliton wrote in an email to The Argus. “Given our low rates, as well as knowing that students are expected to stay on campus, we believe that the modifications we’ve made will continue to keep us safe. If we see changes in our campus rates then we will review these changes.”
While the current rates of COVID-19 on campus are low, University Medical Director Dr. Tom McLarney said there were more cases at the start of this semester than initially in the fall.
“This is not surprising, as it reflects what is happening in our country,” McLarney wrote in an email to The Argus. “Our numbers currently are lower than the experts who look at college campuses predicted. Again, I would like to give credit to both our pandemic guidelines and the students who are complying with these guidelines.”
Going forward, McLarney and the rest of the Pandemic Planning Committee continue to carefully track the virus.
“We monitor the COVID situation continuously on a campus-wide, local, state, regional and national level,” McLarney wrote. “Decisions to lift restrictions will be based on real time conditions.”
McLarney also offered words of advice for members of the community.
“I would advise students, staff and faculty not to become complacent,” McLarney wrote. “We are all sick of the pandemic that has been with us for a year. We cannot let down our guard. There is a glimmer of light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.”
Rachel Wachman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.