Fifth Weekly Campus Public Health Update

Dear Students, Colleagues and Families,

We are a month into our “spring” semester!  It’s great to have so many people on campus, although I do hope that spring itself will join us soon.  I’m writing today with our 5th weekly campus public health update.  The campus health situation remains good, and we also have some important updates for you on masks, now that the new CDC guidance has been released.  Careful attention to masking and distancing is still the most important action you can take to keep our community safe and running this semester.

Testing and campus health update: Thanks to the hard work of our testing team, we ran 1219 COVID tests last week. In general, our tests have been turning around quickly this semester, with results back 24-48 hours after testing. Unfortunately, the extreme weather around the country has resulted in some tests being delayed in transit via UPS over the last several days.  We have results on 983 tests from last week, of which 976 were negative.  There were seven new positive tests - three employees and four students.  In addition, one individual who had very recently tested positive re-tested, with a repeat positive, which does not represent a new case.  Thanks to the care and commitment of students, staff and faculty, our testing positivity rate remains very low, at 0.7 %, and we have ample isolation, quarantine and medical capacity. 

Mask update:  The CDC has recently released guidance with new information on how to choose and wear masks for good protection for both the wearer and for others.  Starting this week, we are providing high – filtration masks to all students, and are continuing to make high-filtration masks available for employees. These masks have been tested to filter over 99% of aerosol particles down to a size of 0.1 microns. (They are built with three bonded layers for high efficiency and comfort.)  Students can pick them up when they come in for testing. We ask students to wear these masks or other high-filtration masks when in class, Lowry, or other public spaces outside the residence hall.  The CDC provides advice on how to make this type of mask fit best, which is important to having them work well.  Be sure to bend the nose-wire so the mask fits around your eyes and nose.  If you choose to double-mask, this mask should be the layer against your face, with your cloth mask on top.  The high-filtration masks are not washable, but can be re-used if you keep them clean.  After you wear your mask for a day, store it in a clean, dry place for at least 48-hours before wearing again.  You will be able to get a new supply when you come back to the testing center each week.

My thanks to everyone across our campus for the consistent efforts for one-another’s safety.  Your dedication is so important!

All my best, and Go Scots!

Sarah Bolton