COVID-19: Confirmed Case & Updated Guidelines (April 2, 2020, 4:00 p.m.)

COVID-19: Confirmed Case & Updated Guidelines

April 2, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

Dear Students,

We’re glad all of you are home where you can take good care of yourselves. I can report that the transition from our campus was among the very best in the nation, and we’ve had many compliments from other schools, government organizations, and parents about how well this has gone and how great our students have been. We’re very proud of you all!

As the rate of infection is now building very fast to its peak in the next few weeks, we’re glad we acted when we did and that everyone is sheltering now before the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is upon the nation. The entire country will be affected. Before this passes, we will all likely have friends or acquaintances who will be infected. Hopefully very few of you will.

We are writing to let you know that one member of our professional staff tested positive for COVID-19 this past weekend. Earlier this week, the University worked quickly to inform and protect those most likely to have been in contact with this employee, and this message is intended to inform you, the students, of these latest developments on our campus.

We are grateful to this employee for having observed social distancing before exhibiting any symptoms, for remaining self-isolated at home since the first sign of symptoms, and for disclosing the situation to our Office of Human Resources. This enabled us to act quickly to inform and protect other employees well before the positive test was returned. In the interest of campus safety, the University will remain closed and all employees are working from home.

We are also grateful to President Wilcox for having the foresight to close campus well before this case first arrived. This decision allowed virtually all students to leave campus and the vast majority of employees to begin working from home prior to this first confirmed case. By the time we received news of confirmation, the few remaining students who could not return home had already been moved away from campus to isolated housing in the Carriage Townhomes.

The employee who tested positive worked in a private office on the second floor of Main Hall with very limited direct contact with students. This employee was last on campus Friday, March 20 and exhibited no symptoms at that time. Since first noticing symptoms on Sunday, March 22, this employee has remained isolated at home even before a positive test was returned this past weekend. Again, we are thankful for the thoughtful and respectful way this situation was handled. Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

As you know, it was in anticipation of the eventual arrival of COVID-19 that we took proactive steps three weeks ago to protect our campus community: stopping all in-person classes to migrate online, strongly encouraging all students to leave campus to return home, and directing everyone to practice responsible social distancing and good personal hygiene. This was the right decision for the safety of our community and we’re grateful to all of our students and faculty for being so flexible and working so hard to make this change possible. Thank you.

After learning of this potential case, our Office of Human Resources notified potential close contacts about the possibility of exposure and encouraged these individuals to watch for any suspicious symptoms. To our knowledge, there are no other confirmed cases of COVID-19 among University employees or students at this time. We will continue to follow best practices and recommendations from the CDC and WHO to protect our campus community.

Despite best efforts to protect our campus and due diligence to identify individuals who may have had close contact with the employee who tested positive, it is always possible others of whom we are not aware could have had some direct or indirect contact with this individual. As a result, we ask all employees and students to review and follow the below guidelines:

Testing for COVID-19

Individuals who spent time on the second floor of Main Hall within the past two weeks and exhibit a pattern of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should self-quarantine until cleared by a medical professional. We strongly urge individuals exhibiting suspicious symptoms to seek medical care and to be tested for COVID-19, if possible.

Individuals who have been in Main Hall within the past two weeks and do not exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but fall into a high-risk category or live with immune-compromised individuals should consider being tested for COVID-19, if possible.

Maintaining Social Distance

Everyone should practice responsible social distancing by maintaining at least six feet distance from other individuals. Any students living in the area surrounding campus should study and work from home and refrain from coming to campus.

Practicing Personal Hygiene

Everyone should frequently and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and avoid touching surfaces or objects likely to have been touched by others (e.g. doorknobs, restroom fixtures, counters, railings, etc.). If such surfaces must be touched, individuals should wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer immediately afterward. These are good hygiene practices at any time that will significantly reduce the incidence of flu and nearly all other infectious diseases.

Protecting Privacy

Please show compassion and discretion for affected individuals when discussing these matters and interacting with others inside and outside of our campus community.

We will continue to monitor these developments and send regular updates. Thank you for your cooperation and support as we navigate this situation and for your fasting and prayers on behalf of those impacted by COVID-19. We will come through this together, and can’t wait to see you again this fall to begin the exciting special events of our historic twenty-fifth year!

Cameron Crowther
Dean of Students