September 14, 2020
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
Last week, we reported to the campus community that we had a cluster of COVID-19 cases. We worked closely with the Ontario County Health Department to complete contact tracing and placed a number of students in quarantine. We administered more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests – including to all in quarantine or isolation as well as our normal weekly surveillance testing. All subsequent positive test results were for students who were already in quarantine. None of the students in isolation or quarantine are symptomatic at this time. No positive case to date has resulted from in-class transmission or from other on-campus activities like office hours, library usage or meals.
Students in isolation are checked on multiple times daily by HWS staff and by health department officials from Ontario County, in addition to receiving meals and other deliveries. The Dining Services staff is working to upgrade meals and meal delivery to those in isolation and quarantine, and the Colleges are improving internet capacity at the isolation facility, scheduled for completion today. If any faculty or staff have materials that need to be delivered to students in isolation or quarantine, please drop off or send those materials to Campus Safety, and we will arrange to have them delivered. For students who need access to materials that are on reserve in the library, we are asking instructors to scan relevant pages (with support from academic coordinators, if necessary) and send them to students in electronic format.
The Hubbs Health Center has added hours on weekends (9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.) for the remainder of the semester and continues to be available for in-person and TeleHealth appointments. In addition, through our partnership with Finger Lakes Health, students have access to Geneva Urgent Care, which is open from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
As we continue to emphasize the critical importance of face coverings in stopping the spread of COVID-19, we want to be sure that everyone is aware that the use of gaiters is no longer acceptable, per the CDC. In July, when the CDC approved of them, HWS ordered gaiters with athletics logos for the community. In August, the CDC changed its recommendation and, as a result, the use of gaiters as a substitute for other approved forms of face coverings is no longer acceptable on campus. Appropriate face masks were distributed to every student upon arrival to campus and continue to be available in Campus Safety.
The ability to identify and contain positive cases on campus emphasizes both our preparedness for exactly this kind of situation as well as our collective responsibility to take very seriously the use of appropriate face coverings and social distancing. Information regarding testing and test outcomes is updated daily on the Colleges’ COVID-19 dashboard. We encourage everyone – do not let down your guard even as the effects from this COVID cluster recede. We must remain vigilant so that the probability of additional clusters is reduced and their effects quickly mitigated.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
Vice President for Campus Life