Nov. 17: Testing and Your Return in January

Message to Davidson College students from the Core COVID Response Team:

At every unexpected turn this semester, you adapted, worked hard and endured circumstances for which no one bargained. Thank you.

We have only a few days of class left to go, please hang in and stick with the safety guidelines so that we can finish the semester on campus with as little risk as possible to each other and our families at home

We want to provide some additional guidance about winter break and returning in January.

Testing during the rest of this semester

Thank you for responding to the request for all students to be tested yesterday. This counted as your weekly test and there is no need to be retested later in the week unless otherwise instructed. Students who will require retesting related to travel should test at the approval of the medical team at Student Health. Beginning Monday, November 23, the testing site will operate Monday, Wednesday, Friday at limited hours for students who have requested access to campus through the end of finals.  

Pre-arrival test kits

This week we began distributing the spring pre-arrival test kits at the test site for you to take home with you. A representative will be onsite at Baker to help with test kit pickup through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please remember to pick up your kit and store it where you can find it in January. Students who have already traveled home, or are studying remotely this fall and returning in the spring, will have a kit mailed to them in early December. More about the kits in a moment.

Traveling over the break

If you will be traveling internationally during winter break, please remember that Davidson requires students traveling outside of the United States on Davidson-affiliated or on a college-sponsored trip to register your travel via Davidson's Office of Education Abroad's system: Travel Registration. If you are traveling outside the United States on a personal trip, we strongly encourage you to inform Naomi Otterness, Director of Education Abroad, by email regarding your travel plans, The Office of Education Abroad maintains traveler information lists that are shared only on a need-to-know basis with appropriate college administrators. 

As announced by President Quillen in March 2020, no college funds may be used for travel to locations where there is a CDC advisory level 2 or higher in effect for coronavirus.   

The college continues to follow CDC guidelines, which currently do not require quarantine after travel. But we ask everyone to be cautious and mindful of your potential impact on others in the Davidson community. This applies to personal travel as well as travel for college programs.  All travelers should monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State webpages.  In addition, all U.S. citizens traveling abroad should register their plans through the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, STEP.  Travel advisories may change suddenly due to a spike in virus cases in different locations, and all travelers should be prepared with contingency plans. 

Returning to campus in January

You should complete your pre-arrival test a few days before coming back, and mail it in, as we did in August.  Once you have taken that test, please try to follow as close to an at-home quarantine as possible.

Instead of a staggered arrival like this fall, we are planning for most students to arrive over the weekend of January 23 and 24. This is subject to change due to the national situation. If we have not received your pre-arrival test results, you will be tested after you get to campus. Weekly testing will begin immediately on Monday, Jan. 25, and we may increase to twice weekly testing at the beginning of the semester.

Safety guidelines during the first two weeks of the semester likely will be tight. For example, we likely will have a “no visitors in rooms” policy for the first two weeks. Here’s why: The highest number of cases this fall was the first few days that all students were on campus, and you can see why. Students are arriving from all over. Testing will identify cases quickly and safety restrictions prevent the virus from spreading. You have proven you can keep it under control, and we need to repeat that hard work and success next semester.

You truly have looked out for each other this semester, and demonstrated the best of Davidson – humane instincts, the shared obligation of a close and supportive community. We are privileged to work here and grateful to share this difficult year with you.

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Nov. 16: Urgent Message—COVID Safety

Message to students from the Core COVID Response Team:

Effective Immediately: No visitors in rooms for the rest of the semester. That includes significant others and other close contacts.  We strongly encourage students living off campus to abide by the same standard in your living spaces. We also recommend that all students NOT eat in-person at off-campus restaurants.

Why:  Over the past few days, we have seen a sharp increase in positive test results. Contact tracing has shown that the safety guidelines are not being followed, despite multiple reminders.  Two positive cases resulted in 17 students going into quarantine. As you prepare to leave for the break, it is imperative that we protect your family members by controlling the spread of COVID on campus. There are students who will spend Thanksgiving in quarantine. Don’t be one of them. Wear your mask, stay six feet apart and wash your hands. Act as if you and everyone around you is infected. A large portion of our quarantine capacity is now consumed.

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Nov. 13: All Students Plan to COVID Test on Monday

All students should plan to complete a COVID test at Baker on Monday, November 16. We received eight positive test results in 48 hours, the most we have seen in a two-day period since early September. Cases and the positivity rate in North Carolina are rising. We need to prevent the virus from spreading, and we do that by testing and through the safety steps you know well: masks, 6 feet of distance and hand washing.

Here’s the schedule, based on the first letter of your last name. If these time frames aren’t feasible for you, then please just report to the testing site sometime between 10 a.m.–4 p.m.: 

10 a.m.–12 p.m.  A-G
12 p.m.–2 p.m.    H-N
 2 p.m.–4 p.m.     O-Z

The process will be the same as weekly tests, but please be patient, as this will be the largest number of tests we have ever conducted in one day. You likely won’t get through as fast as usual.

If you need another test later in the week for travel purposes, you will still be able to get it at the testing site. Testing will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. If your travel plans require a proof of test result, then please complete this Documentation Request form so the medical staff at Student Health can provide assistance (friendly reminder, that it could take up to 48 hours for your test to process). Please note, testing is not optional and you are expected to continue testing as long as you are accessing campus.

Additionally, a test kit distribution table will be set up outside Baker (or inside the lobby during inclement weather) for you to pick up your spring pre-arrival test kit. Each kit will include a pre-paid mailing box, testing instructions, and a lab requisition form to be completed and mailed four days prior to your return to campus in January 2021. Please note, students traveling internationally should not pick up a kit prior to departure.

Beyond November 20th, all remaining students who will be accessing campus past November 20 will be tested again on Monday, November 23 between 9 a.m.–1 p.m.; scholar athletes will be tested on the cadence and frequency determined by Dr. Lutz and communicated through your coaches.

It’s critical that you keep up your prevention efforts for the rest of your time on campus and as you say goodbye to friends until next semester – wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands. Have a safe and enjoyable break and return in January.

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Nov. 13: Health Update from the Dean of Students

You’re almost there!  We’ve made it this far in the semester with very few COVID cases. As you saw in last evening’s email, however, the spread of the virus is increasing. I write to ask that you remain vigilant:  masks, 6 feet of distance, hand hygiene, think of everyone (including yourself) as infected. Case counts are rising across the nation and locally, so it is more important than ever to “step up” our protective behaviors to keep everyone as healthy as possible. 

Also, another important reminder: if you test positive and are in isolation, you cannot take public transportation home until your 14 days is completed. This means you cannot fly commercially during that time. State public health officials addressed this with us months ago and reminded us again recently. I wanted to sure you were aware of this as we near the end of the semester.

You soon will receive some additional information about next week’s testing.

I appreciate how seriously you have taken our shared responsibilities and the empathy you have demonstrated toward your peers and college employees. Thank you for everything you’re doing to keep each other safe.  

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Nov. 12: COVID Update

We have received five positive COVID test results in the past 36 hours. There is a connection between some, but not all, of them.  One appears to be the result of exposure off campus.  We’re grateful to students who call us when they experience even very mild symptoms.

We know the virus is all around us (these cases are not a result of egregious behavior). COVID cases are increasing in many states, including North Carolina, and hospitalizations are rising. Your hard work and following safety guidelines have kept our numbers close to, or at, zero for several weeks. That vigilance is getting more challenging, but we only have one more week of classes. It’s critical that you continue to care for and support each other by wearing masks, keeping 6 feet of distance and washing your hands. This is all the more important as many people intend to travel within the next two weeks.

Please go about every day as if you and the people around you are carrying the virus.  

All of the students in these cases are in isolation, and their health is being monitored.

Their positive tests led to 12 other students being placed in quarantine.

Our weekly testing, now supplemented by antigen rapid tests, continues to provide invaluable help. It is reinforcing that our prevention efforts work when practiced.  

We cannot forget the responsibility we all share – to our friends, classmates and colleagues on campus and to the community around Davidson and at our homes. 

Information about test results at Davidson can be found on the college’s testing dashboard, which remains the primary source of information about test results. Huge thanks to our medical team for their quick work here.

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