Aug. 27: COVID Update

Message to the Davidson Community from the Core COVID Response Team:

We have heard from several of you that you would like the opportunity to ask questions of the Core COVID Response Team. We have scheduled a Zoom drop-in session with the team and look forward to seeing you. You will be able to enter questions in the chat:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 1, at noon. (Zoom link provided via email.)

We also wanted you to know that, over the past week, we have had three positive tests among students: two among vaccinated students and one unvaccinated. Two live off campus. We also had one employee, who is unvaccinated, test positive. We will keep you updated on positive tests through these messages.

Lastly, we want to remind you, especially in these first two weeks, not to travel beyond the Davidson area. Last year travel to locations beyond the immediate area, especially other colleges, was a significant factor in COVID cases.

Thank you for your commitment to keeping us all safe.

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Aug. 26: Important Vaccination Information

Message to students from the Core COVID Response Team:

Throughout this pandemic, you’ve been extraordinary allies in our effort to be together safely. Vaccination is our most effective tool, and you started getting vaccinated as soon as shots were available last spring. You encouraged your friends and families, and you staffed clinics for students and the community. You emphasized repeatedly the importance of getting vaccinated to protect others on our campus, at home and in the community as well as ourselves. Over 96 percent of students are vaccinated.

Thank you! All of us on the core response team are very grateful.

This week the FDA fully approved the Pfizer vaccine. We’re writing to remind you that we will now require a vaccine of all students, faculty and staff.  

Getting vaccinated helps keep you safe and helps to limit the spread in our broader community. Many faculty and staff members have young children who can’t yet be vaccinated, and we all have an obligation to do everything we can to protect them.

Therefore, Davidson College is requiring all faculty, staff and students to submit proof of full vaccination.

Most of you already are vaccinated and have submitted your vaccination forms. Thank you! We are grateful that you are helping to keep yourself, your fellow students and our community healthy. 

There are only a few students who are not vaccinated and do not have an exemption. We have asked our colleagues in Student Life to contact these students about next steps.

If you have not submitted proof of vaccination you must comply with the rules for unvaccinated persons, which include weekly testing, wearing a mask indoors and remaining six feet away from others indoors and outdoors on campus.

Thank you for your commitment to keeping us all safe.

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Aug. 20: COVID Update

Message to the Davidson Community from the Core COVID Response Team:

We will continue to communicate with you, as we did last year, to keep you aware of what is happening around campus regarding COVID. 

Cases

A vaccinated student who arrived early has tested positive and is in isolation. Contact tracing revealed the student had no vaccinated or unvaccinated contacts meeting the requirements for quarantine. The beginning of the semester is the most likely time for positive cases, as students are returning from all over the country and world, including from regions with high case numbers. This is what we saw both semesters last year.

Tests

Our student body is 96 percent vaccinated, and unvaccinated students will test weekly. We will test all students who have symptoms. We are not testing vaccinated students who do not have symptoms. Here’s why: COVID tests register positive on viral loads that are too small to make anyone sick and certainly not infectious. They could show positive on a vaccinated person who was infected three months ago, never had symptoms and never knew. Vaccinations don’t prevent you from being infected. They prime your immune system to pummel the infection so that you don’t get sick. At worst, they keep you from getting seriously ill and dying. 

Masks

The Town of Davidson has approved an indoor mask mandate. You should be masked indoors unless you’re in your residence hall room or private office. 

Thank you for protecting and watching over each other.

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Aug. 19: An Important Message from Dr. Robert Lutz, Medical Director

You’ve heard a lot about COVID from a lot of people. As Medical Director, I wanted to write to offer suggestions—things you can do—to ensure that you and all of us have a great experience this year. My suggestions are based on data from health care systems and conversations with infectious disease physicians who are managing COVID in hospitals, in our region, and in the military. (I am a retired Army officer and an emergency medicine physician).  I appreciate your attention and ask that you read my email to the end.

Outside Is Safer Than Inside

This virus spreads very easily from person to person through particles in exhaled air.  In crowded indoor spaces, these particles become more concentrated and therefore the air becomes more infectious.  People who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to end up in the hospital. They are also less likely than unvaccinated people to become infected,but infections among the vaccinated do happen and will continue to happen. It’s also possible that a vaccinated person who becomes infected could infect someone else.

Get The Shot, If You Haven’t Already 

Over 96 percent of Davidson students are vaccinated, which is a good place to be. Getting vaccinated is the best single thing you can do to keep yourself and others healthy.

Right now, the virus is very prevalent in our region and in many regions from which you all have traveled. The vaccine does not keep you from getting the virus, but instead primes the immune system to rapidly fight it off, in most cases before you have any symptoms and before you can spread it to someone else. We each can take additional steps now that will keep everyone healthy, especially during the first weeks of the semester. 

Wear a Mask

This virus spreads most easily when people come together in confined spaces, so we can wear masks inside—in public campus buildings, in stores, in cars when riding with others. (Mecklenburg County put a mask mandate in place yesterday.) If you’re indoors in a group, (a friend’s house, church, in a line at Commons, Target, a residence hall lounge)  it’s smart and thoughtful to wear a mask. This is especially smart during the first few weeks of the semester.

The Bars Can Wait 

Right now, it’s also wise to avoid crowded places off campus where people are unmasked, like indoor restaurants and bars. In these places, a few infected people breathing and exhaling will create a higher risk of infection.  

When we talked with students last year who had infections, there were three risk factors that resulted in a majority of our infections: travel to other colleges, taking off masks in confined spaces with other students and going out to a restaurant or bar. 

Talk To Us, Please

The best thing you can do if you feel sick is wear a mask and call student health. This helps us take care of you and others in the community.  

By doing these small things now—wearing a mask indoors, avoiding off-campus unmasked places like bars, and calling student health when sick—we can help ensure that we’re able to do the things we most want to do throughout the semester.

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August 10: COVID Information As We Start the Year

Message from the Core COVID Response Team:

We understand that the rising COVID case data is unnerving, and it creates some anxiety around the start of the academic year. We want to share some elements in our favor and some steps we all will take as the semester begins. 

What We've Learned 

We are a residential learning community, and we know that you embrace our shared obligation to each other. You have demonstrated that by getting vaccinated – 90 percent of students are fully vaccinated, and that number will increase. Thank you. You also should be aware that the zip code that encompasses the town of Davidson has the lowest number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents in Mecklenburg County, both cumulative and in the past two weeks.  

We know that during both the fall and spring semesters last year, the first two weeks were challenging. Below are some extra precautions we will take during that time to limit potential spread of the virus as we reconvene.  We’re also sharing initial guidelines for the semester. We ask for your understanding and patience, because as circumstances shift, so will our response to them.  

Move-In and Orientation 

Students living on-campus received a message a few days ago from Dean Snipes regarding move-in. There are a few updates to move-in and orientation that include expanded mask guidelines: 

  • In order to prevent spread of the virus, we need everyone to wear masks indoors in residence halls on move-in days.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people should wear masks everywhere.
  • Everyone should wear masks at large indoor and outdoor gatherings (such as the reception for parents at the President’s House). 
  • Orientation events and the Cake Race remain on schedule. 

We’re establishing these guidelines because during move-in, many families who have been traveling are coming together in small spaces, in rooms and hallways. Wearing masks during this time minimizes the likelihood of viral spread and protects others.  

First Two Weeks and Effective Immediately for Those Already on Campus 

  • Fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in residence halls.
  • Everyone should wear masks in other indoor spaces (classrooms, library, union, public spaces in academic buildings, etc.) If you sit in Vail Commons after eating, please put on your mask. 
  • Armfield Courtyard cannot be utilized for large gatherings or as an open alcohol consumption space.
  • The symptom tracker is back, and everyone should use it. (It is required for entry to Vail Commons.)
  • We ask that you stay in the Davidson area and wear masks when carpooling with other students or while in public indoor spaces, such as stores. 

We’re establishing these guidelines because of our past experience. If we wear masks indoors (residence halls excepted), stay close to campus and forego crowded parties during the first two weeks, we limit any potential spread following the rush of move-in.  We’ll reassess these policies after the first two weeks, and we hope to modify or eliminate these guidelines. 

The Rest of the Semester  

  • Please carry a mask with you.
  • Masks should be worn in some indoor locations such as Student Health & Well Being or the Athletic Training Room. Please abide by posted signs. 
  • Vaccination is required for high-risk activities, such as Athletics or choral or instrumental rehearsals and performances. Please speak with your coach, instructor or advisor if you have questions. 
  • Academic/public buildings will remain on CatCard access, so please carry your CatCard with you. 
  • If you are sick, please contact Student Health & Well Being and please put on your mask. Please do not go to class, your professor will understand. 
  • Unvaccinated students will get tested once a week and wear masks in academic or administrative buildings. Our medical team will share guidelines and supports if an unvaccinated student needs to enter quarantine or isolation.  

Employees

  • You also need to be masked indoors effective immediately and during the first two weeks of the semester, except in private offices.
  • If you are sick, please see your health care provider. Please do not come to work. 
  • Vaccinations are required for employees in high risk areas, such as dining services and Athletics. 

Visitors 

  • They should wear masks indoors. 

You helped us manage two semesters without vaccinations. Thank you. We know we will have COVID cases, including breakthrough cases, but with your continued support and our level of vaccination, we are in a much stronger position to navigate those moments. Your concern for each other in getting vaccinated has allowed us, not only to be back in person, but to return to in-person classes and other activities. 

We will continue to let you know as guidelines are adjusted and remain grateful for your support and work.  

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