In an email to the campus community on Tuesday afternoon, President Clayton Rose announced that the College would strengthen Covid-19 restrictions due to an increase in positive Covid-19 cases earlier this week. This policy reversal comes less than a week after an announcement that loosened the mask mandate and detailed hopes of lifting the mandatory testing requirement prior to the end of the semester.
“This is our largest number of new cases per day and total active cases of the pandemic,” Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Covid-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen wrote in an email to the Orient.
Over the past four days, 123 students tested positive for Covid-19 from either antigen or PCR tests, leading to a total of 132 active cases. Rose cited student failure to comply with the testing schedule as a reason for the policy shift, with nearly 300 students skipping Monday’s mandatory PCR testing.
Masks are now required in all indoor spaces unless a student is actively eating or drinking or in their own residence hall. This mandate includes classrooms, libraries, dining halls, the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness and Smith Union. Additionally, indoor social gatherings in residence halls are now limited to 25 people.
For now, the College will continue to ask students who test positive to isolate in place—unless they or their roommates are at higher risk for serious illness—and will work with dining services, the testing center, the Department of Safety and Security and the health center to provide enough supplies for Covid-19 positive students, Ranen added.
“I know these ups and downs are a challenge for many in our community. Our goal continues to be a return to campus life that is something close to normal as soon as we can, subject to the prevalence of the virus,” Rose wrote. “That said, we will almost certainly go through periods when we will have to adjust. This is one of those times.”
Administrators hope to relax the mask mandate and social gathering restrictions once the number of positive cases decreases and compliance with testing increases.