Dear Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Students:
Good morning. Thank you for everything you are doing to follow the enhanced public health measures temporarily adopted by the University last Tuesday. This message provides additional information related to those measures.
Walking with Another Person to a Shared Destination
A question that has arisen since last week concerns the ability to walk with others despite the temporary “no gatherings” restriction. Although the new enhanced measures do emphasize no gatherings, we’d like to clarify that walking with one other person – to attend an in-person class or obtain food, for example – is permitted under the current health and safety guidelines. It is essential that you are both masked and physically distanced by at least six feet. We ask that you please follow this guidance in the spirit in which it is intended – for walking with a friend or classmate to a shared destination. The “no gatherings” restrictions remain in place. We also ask that you strictly limit exposure to others in the surrounding community who may be more at risk from COVID during this temporary period, including not using local gyms given that our own IM-REC facilities are currently restricted from use.
Leaving the Area to Return Home or Returning from Home
We realize you may have returned home during this period. If you are thinking of going home, we hope you will reconsider. Leaving the area is not advised, given the potential of spreading the virus to family members and others. From a public health standpoint, it will be much better for you to remain here.
If you are already home or ultimately decide to go home, you will need to be tested before returning. In addition, it will be important to follow other guidelines around the timing of prevalence testing once you return. All of these steps are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
You also should update your mailing address in SIS to reflect your physical location.
For more details on what to do if you go home, as well as if you return to the area after being home, please see the coronavirus website.
We understand the enhanced restrictions put in place last week have negatively impacted your University experience in an already challenging time. The truth is we continue to confront a virus in multiple variants that can indeed be fatal to many, and the long-term health consequences of which remain unknown for those who do contract it. The fact you may already have had COVID doesn’t excuse you from continuing to adhere to masking, social distancing, gathering limits and testing requirements. We have seen, both here and nationally, individuals who tested positive in the past and have once again tested positive many months later. The key is to restrict the spread of the virus while we await the availability of a vaccine available to all, which remains months away.
Adhering to Isolation/Quarantine Guidelines
We are testing students more frequently than in the fall semester, and this has allowed us to more quickly identify new cases and get students to isolate or quarantine faster. It is essential that you follow the strict guidelines for isolation and quarantine, including remaining in your assigned space (whether provided by the University or in your personal residence), having food brought to you rather than going out for it, and helping us prevent a wider spread. If we can get the current spike on a downward trend, as we were able to do with your commitment to enhanced restrictions when a spike came last September, we can loosen the current enhanced measures more quickly.
We know this is a difficult and challenging time, with “COVID fatigue” shared by many. However, we have to work together to get this under control. Thank you for continuing to summon strength, grace, and endurance in facing the continued threat posed by COVID-19.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students