September 4, 2020: Public Health Update

Date: September 4, 2020

Subject: Public Health Update

From: Tom McLarney, MD

To Our Wesleyan Community:

Happy Friday and congratulations on nearly making it to the end of the campus-wide quarantine! Despite this unusual and challenging start to the semester, I have noticed students appearing upbeat and happy to be back on campus. I have heard that Bon Appetit is receiving five-star ratings from our students; one parent commented that their student is eating better than they are! I am so impressed with the work of the Pandemic Planning Committee, which left no stone unturned in planning for this re-opening with the goals of providing an excellent educational experience (whether in person or virtually) while keeping the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty the highest priority. I commend the Wesleyan community on its resilience, and on our successful record thus far of preventing the spread of COVID on campus.

To date, we have had three students and two employees with positive tests out of over 7,500 tests performed. The Broad Institute provides a turn-around time of 24-36 hours that allows us to do effective contact tracing—identifying close contacts and placing them in quarantine before they become contagious.

The number of cases on campus thus far is much lower than several projections we received, which is very encouraging. However, it is important that we do not let our guard down. On the contrary, as students emerge from quarantine on Monday, September 7, it is more critical than ever that we all continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep our campus safe and healthy. I know students will be glad to be able to see their friends again, but it is so important that they do so from a safe distance, with proper precautions in place, and that they absolutely avoid large gatherings and parties.

Expectations for student behavior are outlined in the Code of Conduct, while faculty and staff guidance is found in the Community Agreement.

As a reminder, here are the key health and safety measures we are asking everyone to follow:

  • Face coverings/masks at all times except when eating, sleeping, and oral hygiene/showering.
  • Six-foot social distancing.
  • Avoiding groups.
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water—if available—for 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfecting high-touch areas
  • Getting your regularly scheduled COVID test.
  • Staying home if feeling poorly. Students experiencing symptoms should call the Davison Health Center at 860-685-2470.

We will forge ahead continually monitoring the situation. You can find the latest snapshot of cases on campus on our COVID-19 Dashboard, which will be updated at least twice a week. Going forward, you can expect to hear from me every other week, unless there is reason to communicate more frequently.

This is a marathon and not a sprint; we will go forward day by day.

Be well and stay safe!

Tom McLarney, MD