Revised COVID-19 protocols for the final weeks on campus

Nicole Yeager, News Editor

A week has passed since the University dealt with a sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases on campus. On Oct. 24, University President John Bravman sent out an email to all students with an urgent message that seven new positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed and that there were now 10 total active cases on campus. In that initial email, Bravman called for immediate action, instructing students to return to their place of residence and remain there for the time being. He also shared that contact tracing had begun and that the Emergency Response Team would be meeting the following morning to further address the situation.  

In the following days, Bravman and Dean of Students Amy Badal sent out a series of emails that outlined new procedures and regulations. The first note that was shared the following afternoon by Bravman reaffirmed the University’s “[commitment] to remaining on campus and finishing the semester in residence.” To make this possible, in-person instruction was cancelled for the coming week, Bertrand Library and the Kenneth Langone Athletic and Recreation Center (KLARC) were closed down and all gatherings were cancelled. Dining services had remained open, however indoor seating was unavailable; students were encouraged to do take-out style. Additionally, visitors were banned and travel policies remained in place. Students were also given the option to go remote for the remainder of the semester. Most importantly, all students were required to get tested each week for the next two weeks.

Badal stressed that the campus was “not in lock-down” and encouraged students to “continue to move about campus or the immediate area while continuing to take health and safety precautions, including properly wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance.” 

The COVID-19 dashboard was updated daily to represent the number of active infections. Many students were also being contact-traced and sent into isolation housing at nearby hotels. However, the number of students in isolation reached its peak on Monday, Oct. 26 and has been decreasing since then because students could opt to leave campus and all students were being tested. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, the University hosted a town hall where Bravman and Badal answered students’ questions proctored by Bucknell Student Government (BSG) President Wilder Brice ’22. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, there were no new positive cases; on Friday, there was one new positive case. Bravman stated, “This is encouraging news as we wrap up a week of heightened restrictions to help contain the spread of the virus.” 

Bravman’s latest email was sent out on Sunday, Nov. 1. He stated that the results of the past week’s COVID-19 tests indicated that the spike in cases had been sufficiently controlled and that campus could return more-or-less to normal. This past week, classes of around 25 or fewer students were permitted to meet in person (at the professors’ discretion), Bertrand Library and the KLARC center reopened and athletic and club activities resumed. With only two weeks left on-campus this semester, Bravman expects students to abide by the guidelines in order to “finish together” and “finish strong.”

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