With the close of our first week on campus, we have seen a rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 at Colby and increased evidence of student-to-student transmission. We have the ability to resolve this by each of us taking responsibility for our personal actions. We all want to be together and have the opportunity for a strong spring semester, and how our community behaves will determine our ability to do that.
Based on our review of the current cases, several patterns have emerged. While some of the cases came through travel to campus, there is evidence to indicate that the majority of the recent transmission has occurred through contact in dining halls and residence halls—primarily students leaving masks off after they’ve finished eating and gathering in rooms or lounges without wearing masks or distancing. Several students needed to be quarantined as close contacts, and others were infected because masking and distancing guidelines were not being followed. Socializing safely includes both wearing masks and distancing.
While we have identified patterns through our case investigations, we are still working to determine how many of these cases resulted from return-to-campus travel and how many were introduced through other means. As we continue to monitor the current situation, we are implementing some changes, below.
● Residence halls—Effective this afternoon, students will have access only to their own residence halls, and all lounges and other residence hall common spaces are closed.
● Dining—Effective with breakfast tomorrow, all meals will be grab-and-go. Please maintain distance when eating and remember to wear a mask when you’re finished.
● Travel—We strongly encourage students to limit unnecessary travel off campus this week. Should you need to travel off campus in a personal vehicle, it is critical to remain vigilant regarding masking and physical distancing guidelines. The shuttle will only transport students to and from residences downtown.
As we work together to minimize infections on campus, please remember that:
● Frequent testing does not prevent infection; it does allow us to identify cases quickly, isolate those infected, and quarantine their close contacts to reduce the likelihood of additional infection.
● Masking, distancing, and hand washing do prevent spread of the virus, protecting you and other members of our community.
● Responding immediately to the contact tracing team helps reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to other members of the community by allowing us to investigate cases more quickly.
We will closely monitor our experience over the course of this week. If the trend among positive cases shifts and there is heightened adherence to the critical elements of prevention, we may be able to relax some of the modifications. Should cases continue to increase and/or if we don’t see safer behavior, we will need to take additional steps, including possibly conducting classes in virtual mode only.
Every member of this community plays an important role in our ability to manage the virus and be together on campus. Thank you for doing your part.