September 6, 2021
Dear Members of the HWS Community,
As we enter week three of the semester, the Colleges continue to ask community members to be masked when they are in indoor public spaces, and as warranted outside when physical distancing of three feet is not possible. Later this week, we will add a section to our COVID-19 information and data website that shares the precaution level status of multiple functional areas around campus (academics, dining, residential life and athletics, among others) and what that means for their operation. This section will also indicate the factors we consider (including the CDC risk level, number of cases on campus, and number of hospitalizations in the area) in setting the precaution level.
The Campus Life team, along with numerous other staff members, is working seven days a week to test students, trace close contacts and provide support to students. Last week, we began our routine surveillance testing program and conducted more than 850 tests, including both individual and pool tests. Our testing protocol this year uses pool tests (where a single tube may hold 2 to 10 swabs all processed at once) run through the Broad Institute. More information about pool testing can be found here. Pool test results are reported to the Colleges with quicker turnaround times (it takes less time for the Broad lab to process 40 pooled samples than 200 individual tube samples), thus increasing testing efficiency. When a pool test is negative, all samples in that pool are considered negative; when a pool test is positive, the Colleges conduct individual testing, utilizing a rapid antigen or PCR test, on members of the test group to identify which specific individuals may be positive. Through last week’s surveillance testing, the Colleges identified eight students who tested positive. As of today, 28 cases remain active with 47 recovered. An additional 17 students are expected to be out of isolation by Friday.
Tomorrow is our second Pfizer clinic, September 7 from 1 pm – 5 pm in the Bristol Field House. Please use this link to register. Note that while the link may state that this is open only to those individuals who received their first dose on 8/16, this clinic is open for both first and second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. With fewer than 10 students not yet reporting their vaccination status as of this morning, our vaccination rate will be 97% after our clinics are completed.
Finally, as the Colleges prepare for Homecoming and Family Weekend happening Sept. 24 – 26, we have asked that all visitors to campus – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – wear a face mask while in any campus building and also when outside if they cannot maintain a physical distance of at least three feet.
We will send an update once our precaution level information is available on the website. We wish you all the best for this week.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
B. B. Barile
Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students