A second Dining Services employee tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Mike Ranen, COVID-19 resource coordinator, announced in an email to all students and employees on Thursday afternoon. Both employees work in Thorne Hall.
Two additional employees were identified through contact tracing as having been in close contact with the second individual who tested positive. They have been asked to quarantine at home for 14 days.
“At this time, we do not believe this positive case [announced Thursday] is related to the case announced on Tuesday,” Ranen wrote in the email to the College community. “Thorne Hall will resume meal service Friday morning as planned.”
Thorne Hall closed on Tuesday after the first employee tested positive for COVID-19.
While the majority of students who were living on campus during the fall semester were required to depart by November 21, Thorne Hall will still be serving the 104 students whom the College has permitted to stay until December 22. Leaving campus to procure food is still considered essential business and is therefore allowed, but in an email to all students currently living on campus on November 24, Dean of Student Affairs Janet Lohmann announced that they would now need to obtain permission from a staff member in the Dean of Students Office or the Office of Residential Life before doing so.
In an email to the Orient, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Matt Orlando wrote that 50 Dining Services employees are still coming into work to serve the students remaining on campus in Moulton Union. He also said the College did not see a need to re-evaluate COVID-19 protocols or safety procedures in dining halls or kitchens after these two most recent cases.
“Very thoughtful planning was done prior to the semester to properly space the production and survey area to maintain distance between staff,” Orlando wrote. “The employees have followed the safety plans and protocols to near perfection. That is why we had just a couple of close contacts identified for each positive case.”
While the College remains confident in the ability of the surveillance testing program and safety protocols to prevent an outbreak in the kitchens, Orlando said that there are back-up options available.
“If all else fails, we always keep in storage a few days’ worth of frozen meals that could be supplemented in a pinch with some outside meal deliveries—pizza, food trucks, etc.,” Orlando wrote.
The new COVID-19 case brings the College’s number of active cases to two. There are currently no students in isolation or quarantine.