COVID-19 Update: Four Students Test Positive, Pushing Total Number of Cases To 13
By Anna Cincotta, Editor-in-Chief
According to the COVID-19 campus dashboard, four additional positive cases were confirmed after the administration of over 1,300 tests to on-campus students between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21. This is the first week, after the initial round of baseline testing and arrival quarantine protocols this semester, that positive tests have been reported.
An email from Interim Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students Jeff Foster and Assistant Vice President of College Life Darrien Davenport underscores that the college will continue “to operate at a moderate alert level”—meaning that the numbers at this point in time are still manageable, and contact tracing is still a feasible option for thwarting the risk of community spread.
Still, Foster and Davenport maintained that a higher alert level or increased mitigation strategies are still a possibility. Changes in campus positivity rate, along with the state of local conditions, could prompt adjustments to the current plan for students in residence.
During a faculty meeting on Feb. 18, President Iuliano shared that some restrictions have been lifted due to the low positivity rate on campus. Students are now permitted to eat in the dining hall, for example. The Jaeger Center has reopened, but has a limited capacity in order to maintain social distancing.
In an interview with The Gettysburgian prior to the start of the semester, Iuliano expressed that the college was prepared for positive cases during the course of the spring.
“We’re not going to make it through a semester with no cases on campus,” he said. “If we did, I would be the first to celebrate it, but it’s just not realistic given the persistence of the virus.”
According to Iuliano, swifter movement towards isolation and quarantine protocols—aided by the college’s decision to house students in single bedrooms this semester—will be the first step in eliminating community spread, if it should occur. “The real goal is to keep [the positive cases] localized,” he added.
244 members of college faculty and staff were also tested in the last week, and one individual tested positive for the virus. Before students returned to residence in February, 18 college employees received positive COVID-19 test results. There were quarantine and isolation protocols in place.
Students on campus will continue to be tested twice weekly, and the community will receive updates every Friday. “A lesson that I think we’ve learned is that we can’t over communicate,” Iuliano said.