Campus goes remote after sudden surge in COVID-19 cases

Sarah Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief

In an email sent out to the campus community, University President John Bravman detailed plans for all classes to be held remotely for the week of Oct. 26-Nov. 1, with many campus operations being paused temporarily. This announcement comes as the result of an influx of new on-campus COVID-19 cases.

In President Bravman’s Oct. 24 email to students, he revealed that seven new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the University on Saturday night alone and that contact tracing had commenced. Students were ordered to immediately return to and remain in their residences — except to pick up meals or for emergencies — and to cease all on- or off-campus gatherings. These new infections come after two additional cases were confirmed on Oct. 22, the first on-campus positives in two weeks

It is imperative that we act immediately to contain further spread of the virus,” Bravman wrote.

The following day, the Emergency Response Team met to plan what actions should be taken. Students may go outdoors as individuals or in small groups, with face coverings remaining mandatory. Those who get meals off-campus are urged to order takeout rather than dine-in, and food delivery to campus is still permitted. All classes are to be held remotely until Nov. 1, and all Athletics and student club activities are canceled until further notice. The KLARC and Bertrand Library are also closed until Nov. 1, and Admissions tours will not be held for the next week.

New restrictions on travel have also been put in place, as well as adjustments to the remote learning policy. Students who travel more than 30 miles off-campus are not allowed to return and must finish the semester online, while those who choose to switch to remote learning may fill out a Fall 2020 remote intention form and depart campus immediately. Family members and guests have also been asked to refrain from visiting students — on- or off-campus — to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I want to reiterate that we have every intention of completing our semester here in person. The measures we are taking now are intended to be temporary and designed to give us the best possible chance of staying on campus through Nov. 20,” Bravman wrote.

As of Oct. 26, the University has ten active COVID-19 cases, nine of which are students. Prior to the week of Oct. 18, the University had confirmed 20 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the semester, only one of which was active. The COVID-19 Dashboard currently shows Isolation Housing as being at 74% capacity, with 91 students being housed during the period from Oct. 18-Oct.24. 

While the restrictions currently apply to the week of Oct. 26-Nov. 1 only, Bravman also indicated that such rules could be extended if necessary. Students should expect further updates via email throughout the week.

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