9-8-21: Campus Community Message

COVID-19 Community Message

Dear Students, Colleagues and Families,

I write with a brief update on campus public health.  The campus situation continues to be quite good.  We had four positive student COVID tests last week, and all of the students have only mild symptoms and are doing well.  The college performs contact tracing for any individual who tests positive, identifying and testing close contacts (students and employees) based on CDC and Health Department guidance.  Encouragingly, of 35 close contacts tested thus far this semester, only two tested positive.  This is a significantly lower rate of contact positivity than we saw last year, and suggests that vaccinated students are quite unlikely to transmit the illness to other vaccinated students – even those with whom they share living spaces.

There are currently six students in isolation housing (meaning students who have tested positive or who have symptoms but are awaiting test results) and two students in quarantine housing (students who are close contacts of students who tested positive, and who have not yet completed their full vaccination sequence.)

As promised, we have carefully reviewed the campus’ indoor mask mandate this week.  While our campus position appears to be good, we would like to get campus cases down all the way to zero.  Furthermore, cases are increasing very rapidly in Ohio and in our region.  While we do not want to restrict students’ access to engagement in the local community, we want to do what we can to prevent transmission when on and off campus.  As a result of our review, we have made the following decisions.

  1. Our current requirement that everyone wear masks indoors on campus (except when in private offices or residence hall rooms) will remain in place, and will be reviewed again in early October.
  2. Masks vary in their filtration effectiveness.  The College is providing high-quality masks free of charge, and we strongly encourage their use.  These masks can be picked up in Lowry Dining hall, the library, the Scot Center, or with the academic coordinators in academic buildings.  (These masks also tend to muffle sound less than cloth masks do, which can be helpful.)
  3. We strongly recommend that all students, staff and faculty also wear a high-quality mask when in shared indoor spaces while off-campus.
  4. We remind students that there is no eating permitted in indoor classes.  Those in the classroom may adjust their masks briefly to sip a drink if needed, but should otherwise stay fully masked throughout class.

Several people have asked whether the College has plans to safely manage an increase in cases if one were to occur.  We do have a multi-faceted framework to decrease contact (by limiting campus and off-campus activities) and increase testing, as well as support for students who may need to be isolated or quarantined, in such a situation. The specifics of the actions we would take would depend on the details of the circumstances (where cases were originating and spreading, for example).  However, we will post our framework on the COVID 19 information page later this week, for those who may be interested in reviewing it.

We deeply appreciate the dedication and care of each member of our campus community for one another.  Seeing our campus community come together for classes, athletics, musical events, Scot Spirit day, and much more is truly inspiring, and makes clear the importance of the effort that so many people have put into our campus public health measures.

My deepest thanks to every member of this remarkable community of Scots.  I look forward to seeing you around campus in the coming days.

Sarah Bolton

Posted in Community Message.