Sept. 10: COVID Update

Message from the Core COVID Response Team:

We are fortunate to live, study, teach and work in a highly vaccinated community where we look out for each other. The case and hospital numbers in our state and nation, however, underscore how critically important it is that you keep up the preventive measures that are helping keep us safe, particularly wearing masks indoors, using the symptom tracker, and staying home and calling student health or your physician if you have symptoms. Thank you.

Vaccination

Approximately 98.7% of students are vaccinated (a few of these are still being tested weekly as they are in the two week, post-shot waiting period). Approximately 93.8% of employees are vaccinated. 

Cases

We have four active student cases at this time. Since the beginning of the semester, we have had six active cases that have cleared, for a total of 10 cases overall. With each case, we conduct contact tracing to assess how the virus might have been contracted. The only common factor we have seen when we identified student-to-student spread is repetitive, close, unmasked contact with a symptomatic person. 

Testing

We have conducted 315 tests on students.

  • We have conducted the majority of those tests on roughly 40 individuals who are unvaccinated (because of approved exemptions) or partially vaccinated (the number we test drops as partially vaccinated people move to fully vaccinated status). These individuals test weekly. Of the 191 tests run on this population, 3 have been positive. All were symptomatic.  
  • We have conducted 124 tests on vaccinated individuals either because they had symptoms or, following CDC guidance, were close contacts of a person who tested positive. 7 of those have been positive. Of 14 roommates tested for close contact, 2 have been positive. 
  • Walk-in testing is available to all students (no appointment needed) 7 days a week. 

We have found no evidence of spread in organized activities (such as the cake race), athletics or in classrooms. Chris Marsicano and the team at the College Crisis Initiative (C2i) have been tracking how colleges and universities respond to the pandemic since it started. After working with the CDC, public health researchers, and epidemiologists across the country, C2i has found no peer-reviewed article that shows classroom spread at the higher education level. Research on this issue pre-dates the advent of the Delta strain and is ongoing. Should new research show different outcomes related to Delta and classroom spread, the C2i team will update the Core Response Team. Members of the Core Response Team have spoken to people at other institutions. None of these is seeing evidence of spread in classrooms.

Some of you have asked many times why we are not testing everyone. The CDC does not recommend surveillance testing of vaccinated persons. This testing would identify cases that likely have no clinical significance since the data we have suggests that symptomatic individuals are most likely to spread the virus. Testing their close contacts provides an additional level of protection. 

Campus Buildings

Message from the Core COVID Response Team:

All students and employees coming to campus must use the symptom tracker. To enter Commons, diners must show their symptom tracker “green” icon. Daily symptom monitoring helps to identify who should be tested and keeps potentially infectious persons at home. 

Masks are required indoors in all public campus buildings. All students, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in class. After vaccines, masks are the most effective tool at limiting the spread of this virus. 

Campus Life

The safest place for our students to be is on our campus, within a population that is highly vaccinated. There is no stay at home order. The world around us is open. Movie theatres are open, restaurants and bars are open, sporting events and concerts are happening, friends from high school or at nearby colleges are having parties. We know from our own data and from other campuses that off-campus, crowded, unmasked, indoor gatherings pose the greatest risk. We need to keep our students on our campus, preferably socializing outdoors, and students understand their collective responsibility to keep our community healthy. 

With respect to outdoor sporting events, athletics is working to separate students from others. Masks are required for unvaccinated guests. Our Student Life team is working with students on guidelines for outdoor social activities and gatherings. Again, our aim is for students to remain on campus and to safeguard everyone's overall health and well-being. 

The Drop-Ins

The Core COVID Response team will hold another Zoom drop-in Q/A session on Wednesday, September 15, at noon (Zoom link provided via email).

Dean McCrae is holding a drop-in hour for students at the Summit Outpost on campus every Wednesday from 2 pm to 3 pm for the month of September. 

The Calendar

We have received questions about the academic calendar. Our expectation is that students will return to campus after Thanksgiving. As with all things, we are prepared to adjust as circumstances change.

We recognize that overall success on our campus depends on you, and we’re grateful to each of you for working for that success. 

Return to Top

Sep. 3: COVID Update

Message from the Core COVID Response Team:

Thank you for joining our drop-in Q/A gathering on Wednesday. The conversation highlighted both the collaboration and the sometimes conflicting aims within our community. The next drop-in session is:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 15, at noon. (Zoom link provided via email.) The next one will be Thursday, Sept. 30.

Cases

We have 7 students who have tested positive and are isolating. Two previous cases have cleared.

Preventive Measures

In early August, we outlined several steps everyone should follow for the first two weeks of the semester. The rise in cases in the state and nationally require that we continue those measures until circumstances allow a relaxation. They include:

  • Everyone should wear masks indoors. This is now a town and county mandate.
  • If you sit in Vail Commons (or anywhere) after eating, please put on your mask. 
  • At this time, Armfield Courtyard cannot be utilized for large gatherings or as an open alcohol consumption space. Student Life will work with residents at Armfield about safe possibilities on campus, pending testing results next week.
  • 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. 
  • The symptom tracker is back, and everyone should continue using it. (It is required for entry to Vail Commons.)

We would add to those steps: Please don’t go to indoor bars. They appear to be a major factor in transmission at other colleges and universities. When you’re there, you are talking over music or noise with your mask off amidst people who may or may not be vaccinated. Please don’t go. 

Thank you for your help and work in looking out for each other.

Return to Top