Follow-up: Alert Level Increase, 4/17/21

Follow-up: Alert Level Increase, 4/17/21

Colleagues,

As you have now seen from the message appended below and the COVID-19 dashboard, we have moved to a higher campus alert level because we currently have 35 residential students in isolation on campus. Additionally, there are approximately 70 others who are currently in quarantine. Most of the students who have tested positive recently are showing mild symptoms – congestion and sore throats being the most common.

I wanted to share a few additional pieces of information to put the dashboard data in context:

  • There have been no recent positive tests from our on-campus testing from anyone but undergraduate students, and the vast majority of positive tests have been in residential undergraduate students.

  • Contact tracing is complete for all known positive cases, and there is a clear path of transmission for all of these cases.

  • There is no evidence of classroom transmission. The most common paths of transmission include group/social and “pod” gatherings and roommate/suitemate situations. (For those who don’t know, suites have up to six students who may be exposed as close contacts if one suite member tests positive.)

  • Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, the current uptick in cases is NOT linked to any particular athletic team.

  • Many of the 27 positive cases identified this week were from students who were already in quarantine or who were called in for testing as a result of identification as a close contact.

  • Some of the 35 students in isolation now are scheduled to be released early next week (pending an absence of symptoms), and as you saw from the campus-wide message, all residential students are being tested on Monday.

  • Disciplinary consequences have occurred for students who have violated health and safety protocols.

In sum, the processes that we have put in place are working – we have been able to quickly identify those who test positive and/or may have been exposed and move them into isolation or quarantine housing. Staff in Health Services and Residence Life have been working tirelessly to follow our detailed health and safety protocols (including regular testing of students in quarantine) and to support students during these challenging transitions – we are all grateful for their extraordinary work.

We’re so close to the end of the semester, and I know this is not how we would like to have it end. I’m hopeful that we will begin to see decreases in our active cases with Monday’s testing. Regardless, the health and safety of our community will determine the decisions we make regarding campus operations. As noted in the campus-wide message, an update will be shared with everyone on Thursday. We can also discuss updates at the University Faculty meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and your support of our students and each other. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

Best,

Jessica


Dear Drew community,

In Thursday’s community message, we informed you of an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases over the past week. Testing between Thursday and Friday resulted in additional positive cases, bringing our total active cases to its highest point during the pandemic.

As a result of this increase, we are moving to an Orange Alert Level, which calls for temporarily suspending some campus operations and restricting movements on campus. Visit the COVID-19 dashboard for additional information.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will share an update on Thursday, April 22.

What This Means

The goal of this alert level change is to stop the spread of COVID-19 among the on-campus population as soon as possible. Residential students should restrict their movement on campus, and non-residential students should refrain from coming to campus. We strongly encourage residential students to remain on campus in order to minimize the likelihood of unknowingly exposing others to COVID-19 on and off campus.

Through at least the end of next week, Friday, April 23:

  • All in-person courses will be delivered in a virtual format. Faculty members teaching in-person courses will be in touch with affected students with course-specific information.
  • On-campus residents may not host other students in their rooms, even those from the same residence hall.
  • When gathering or exercising outside, continue to use appropriate safety measures. This includes appropriately wearing face coverings. While being outside is safe, please gather only in small groups and avoid situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Beginning with breakfast today, Saturday, April 17, all dining in the Commons will shift to grab-and-go service.
  • The Library and the Simon Forum are closed except to staff who work in those buildings.
  • The Ehinger Center will be closed for student gatherings, but will be open for surveillance testing, and the food court will remain open for grab-and-go service during regular hours.
  • All scheduled on-campus, in-person events will be rescheduled or switched to virtual formats. Check Drew Today for more information.
  • All residential students who are currently on campus must report for testing on Monday, April 19, regardless of whether next week is your testing week. Campus Life will be sending an additional email to all residents informing them of next week’s testing protocol.
  • Surveillance testing on Thursday will be designated for faculty and staff who have been identified for testing next week and who are on campus.
  • Employees with campus access may continue to work on campus as there has been no evidence of community spread through classrooms or offices.
  • Student workers should not report to in-person jobs, unless you are asked by your manager to do so because you are an essential student employee. Work may continue remotely, if possible. Please reach out to your supervisor with any questions.

The Drew community has already proven that we have the ability to keep COVID-19 in check on our campus, but that is only possible through our collective actions and commitment to one another. Our campus operations, Commencement and other planned in-person events, and, most importantly, the health and safety of our community, depend upon it.

Thank you,
Status of Campus Operations Committee
Barb Bresnahan, Chief of Staff
Joan Galbraith, MSN, APN-C, Director, Health Services
Roger Knowles, Professor and Department Chair, Biology
Jessica Lakin, Provost
Frank Merckx, Vice President, Enrollment Management and Campus Life
Kristen Daily Williams, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing

drew.edu/campusops