February 22, 2021
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
We write at the beginning of the fifth week of the spring semester with positive news about the decreasing cases of COVID-19 on campus. Thanks to the efforts of all members of our community, with students leading the way, the number of cases has declined significantly in the last week with just one positive case recorded yesterday, none today and a large number of students now out of quarantine and isolation. You can see the numbers on our dashboard but we want to draw your attention to the following:
- From Sunday, Feb. 14 through Sunday, Feb. 21, the Colleges administered more than 840 COVID-19 tests, with 26 individuals testing positive, the bulk of those positives coming in on Feb. 14. This aligns with our pledge to double the amount of testing for the foreseeable future so that half of all students are tested each week, and exceeds new State guidelines to test at least 25% of the campus each week.
- During this same period, 48 students recovered and we anticipate that in the next week, there will be a large cohort of students coming out of quarantine or isolation.
- As of this morning, there are 27 students who are positive for COVID and in isolation. Although the majority of students who test positive are asymptomatic, there are some who do have symptoms. To date, though, no students have required hospitalization.
At the suggestion of the faculty, we have added a link to the New York State dashboard on the HWS dashboard page. Since the NYS dashboard launched last year, we have submitted our numbers to the State every day. Depending on when the State updates their website, there is sometimes a discrepancy between their dashboard and ours. In the event that a discrepancy occurs that cannot be attributed to reporting time differences, we note it on the HWS dashboard as we coordinate with State officials. We hope that adding this link provides even more transparency in conveying the state of virus spread on campus.
Because the number of COVID cases on campus is currently declining, we are pleased to announce that the Colleges are resuming all operations to the levels we had at the start of this semester, including reopening the upper floors of the Library, Bristol Field House and Au Bon Pain. Even though things are trending in a positive direction, we cannot become complacent. All members of our community must adhere to public health guidelines including wearing face masks and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, including when in small social gatherings or settings. Face masks must cover the mouth and nose entirely to be effective. As a reminder, neck gaiters are ineffective in halting virus spread and cannot be substituted for face masks. The Colleges’ Community Standards Addendum for the Spring 2021 semester is on the HWS website and includes important details about health, wellness, safety and the consequences of violations.
This is a challenging time and we understand that there are many among us who are fearful and frustrated, especially when we see clusters of cases as we have these last two weeks. We are working hard to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. Nothing is more important. This pandemic, though, has been going on for the better part of a year and it brings with it accumulating stress and worry. This is a complicated world right now, and it’s important that we offer one another grace and compassion. In this year especially, with the layers of the pandemic and now the situation occurring in Texas and the surrounding area, we hope that everyone in our community feels comfortable reaching out to one another for help and support. As always, students have access to the resources of the Counseling Center and Telehealth while faculty and staff can seek assistance via Excellus’ Telemedicine/MDLive and NextGenEAP, the Colleges’ Employee Assistance Program. All resources are free and confidential.
The increased resolve among all members of our community to maintain public health standards will ensure our goal of in-person education in a safe and dedicated community. We thank you for your cooperation and hope you will reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Vice President for Campus Life