Dear Students and Families,
With our first week of classes underway, I want to provide you with an update on our community viral health and let you know more about how we will track and report cases of COVID-19 on campus.
First, it’s important to know that we began tracking and managing aspects of our community health more than two weeks ago when we asked students to self quarantine at home and report symptoms daily through our online tracking tool. Compliance with symptom reporting has been high since day one with more than 1,700 students reporting in the weeks before arrival - THANK YOU! Through pre-arrival reporting, we identified a small number of students with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and those students are being tested in their home locations and will not come to campus until negative test results are provided and they have met all medical requirements for reentry. We also required students coming from states with higher levels of COVID to take tests before coming to campus.
Upon student arrival to campus, we began administering signal testing (testing a percentage of the population) as part of the move in process and we continued that signal testing this week.
We continue to have high rates of compliance with daily symptom monitoring and through that process we have identified a few students and staff on campus with symptoms - students reporting symptoms are being tested and will be in quarantine until those test results are back and they are medically cleared, and employees are likewise instructed to quarantine and stay away from campus until they have been medically cleared to return. It is important to note that the number of symptom tests conducted in the coming weeks will likely increase as students are being very vigilant about tracking symptoms (many of which are also consistent with allergies, colds and the flu) and we are being vigilant about testing.
We currently have no positive cases on campus based on results we have received to date from both symptom and signal testing.
In addition to quantitative data, we also are assessing adherence to key public health practices like mask wearing and physical distancing. From a social cooperation perspective, our assessment is that the significant majority of our community - students, faculty and staff - are adhering to our guidelines around mask wearing, distancing, and safe socializing. There were numerous examples from this past weekend and the last few nights of students gathering safely and appropriately and taking advantage of outdoor spaces to ensure physical distance. Again, thank you! But there were also students who did not follow the guidelines. We expected some early challenges as we transitioned to new expectations and that we'd have to correct behavior. We are taking compliance very seriously and those who continue to ignore guidelines will face disciplinary action. We are investigating several cases and corrective actions are already being taken - students are being sent home and will continue to be sent home if violations persist.
Overall, my assessment is that the vast majority of students have come back and want to make this work and we need to make sure the actions of a few don't ruin it for the many. As such, as we head into the next weekend, we plan to have an enhanced presence on campus. We have added more staff and student monitors who will be walking the campus to make sure that students are complying with the community guidelines.
Classes appear to also be going well. Faculty are working hard with students to adjust to new pedagogical styles. My conversations with faculty and students have been generally positive. I want to thank our Information Technology Services team for all the work they did to enhance technology around campus.
With regard to the ongoing reporting of our community viral health, based on a data-processing and data-reporting protocol developed by our epidemiological partners, Denison will provide a weekly dashboard update to the Denison community on the number of tests administered, the percentage of tests with positive results, and the number of new cases. This information will reflect data from the prior week and will be updated on Tuesday of each week beginning on August 25. The information will be available on MyDenison.edu - students will find it starting next week by clicking on the navigation button titled “Covid-19 Dashboard.”
It will look like the following:
Week: August 17-23
|August 17-23||Previous Week|
Please know in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on our campus, the university will follow contact tracing protocols and if you are identified as a close contact you will be notified and provided instructions regarding testing and quarantine. Details of the notification and contact tracing protocols can be found here. The plan for quarantine and isolation can be found here.
You will be receiving email updates from me at least twice a week and more often if needed. If you have questions about the information provided here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, tonight is Wednesday night which has typically been a social night on campus for some students. We will have an enhanced presence on campus tonight and I would ask all students to make sure that you are complying with the community guidelines. Again, those who are not will face consequences. I would also remind students that nobody should be leaving campus to visit bars and restaurants, especially during this initial period where we have asked students to stay on campus.
Adam S. Weinberg