Dear Denison Community,
As I mentioned in my email on Tuesday, we did 215 signal tests on Monday. All of those tests have returned. Right now, we have 5 active COVID-19 cases on campus and 43 community members in quarantine (35 of whom are in on-campus quarantine spaces). We have administered tests to all of the close contacts of the 5 individuals. I will keep you updated on the results.
What we can learn from our positive cases:
In some of the cases, students did nothing wrong but they still managed to contract COVID. This is a reminder of how contagious COVID is in a community.
Most of the students in quarantine also did nothing wrong. They fully followed our COVID Community Care Agreement guidelines, but they came in close contact with somebody who was infected. This is a reminder of the importance of physical distancing.
In some of the cases, students were not following our COVID guidelines and then tested positive. Others are now in quarantine because they came into contact with those individuals. This is a reminder of how critical it is to follow all guidelines at all times. What each of us does impacts those around us.
Thus far, we have done a good job managing COVID on campus. We worked together to keep COVID cases low through August, September, and well into October. I am proud of what we have accomplished together.
But our five positive signal tests are a reminder that COVID is a persistent threat to our community, especially as cases are on the rise in Ohio and across the country. And, our contract tracing suggests that many students are following the guidelines, but not all students are doing so. The national data is tracing a lot of COVID transmission on college campuses to social events that are not following physical distancing and/or mask wearing guidelines. We are starting to see more colleges, including some residential liberal arts colleges, having to transition to fully remote learning for the rest of the semester because of outbreaks.
Some of these outbreaks are due to larger parties but some are also the result of small (and seemingly innocent) events. As it gets colder and we are inside more often, it is important to fully commit to physical distancing and mask wearing, especially when we are in indoor spaces -- I can’t emphasize this strongly enough. On our campus, it is often the small indiscretions, not large events, that appear to be leading to COVID cases.
I am going to ask three things of our community:
Please remain committed. Our rates have been low all semester which can create a false sense of security. COVID is contagious and there are no COVID-free environments, including our campus, so we can’t let our guard down.
Follow the community guidelines 100% of the time. I understand that we are deep into the semester, and this is hard work. But our COVID guidelines have helped keep our exposure and infection rates low and we need to maintain our vigilance: wear masks, distance, wash hands frequently, adhere to room capacity guidelines (in all spaces across campus), and follow off-campus travel rules.
Don’t make assumptions about your peers who either test positive or are in quarantine. Most of the time, they have done nothing wrong but happened to come into close contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19. We are all in this together, and we need to invest our energy into coming together and doing what we can to finish the semester strong.
Important reminders: For now, students are not to have guests in their residence hall rooms. Off-campus travel is limited to Granville, Newark, and Heath for groceries/pharmacy or visiting restaurants for take-out or drive-through service.