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The College will not publish COVID test results today, arrival policies change for students who tested positive before arriving to campus

January 4, 2022

Jan. 4 | 9:45 p.m.

As of 9:45 p.m. today, the College’s COVID-19 dashboard has not been updated to include test results from students who took COVID tests on Monday. In an email to the Record, Associate Director of Institutional Research James Cart ’05, who manages the dashboard, wrote that the College’s typical cycle of testing and reporting results on the dashboard happens over the course of three days. “If a group tests Monday, their results come back Tuesday, and their results are posted publicly on Wednesday,” he wrote. 

However, the College updated the dashboard ahead of schedule yesterday, because the test results came back sooner than expected. “Today’s delay in updating the dashboard is a combination of that decision to report a bit earlier than usual (outlined above) and a delay in getting results back,” he wrote. 

Some students who arrived on campus and tested on Monday were notified of their results later in the day on Tuesday than students who arrived and tested on Sunday and received their results on Monday.

For example, Coco Rhum ’24 arrived on campus at 4 p.m. on Sunday and received her negative results at 4:45 a.m. on Monday, while Quinn Casey ’25 arrived on campus at 3:45 p.m. on Monday and received his negative results at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

“While we are expecting over 1,000 results back by the end of today [Tuesday], as of 4:30 p.m. or so we only had 38 back,” Cart wrote. He noted that there were several positive results from Monday tests, but he did not share the exact number to protect student privacy before they are added to the dashboard. 

Test results from the Broad Institute are reported to the College in batches at various times throughout the day. Cart wrote that the parties who require knowledge of the positive cases, such as the student who received a positive test, Campus Safety Services (CSS), and the Dean’s Office, are informed immediately in order to coordinate the process of isolation. “Informing the public of case counts is an important part of that process, but it comes at the end and doesn’t carry the same urgency as other parts of the process,” Cart wrote. 

Cart said that he expects to receive the official results from Monday tests by Wednesday morning and will update the dashboard accordingly. Moving forward, the College will update the dashboard using a three-day cycle of testing on one day, notifying students of their results on the next day, and updating the dashboard on the day after that, according to Cart. “We’ll continue to update the dashboard once a day unless there are extenuating circumstances,” he wrote.

Yesterday, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom announced in an all-campus email that students who test positive on campus may leave isolation after five days if they receive a negative test result from a rapid antigen test. These students must mask around others for five additional days after their negative test result, according to Sandstrom’s email. If the student’s rapid antigen test is positive, they will stay in isolation housing and test again in 48 hours.

This announcement marks a shift from the College’s previous isolation policy, which stated that students could leave isolation after five days if the student was asymptomatic or if the student had resolving symptoms and went 24 hours without a fever. The new policy is also more stringent than guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which, at the time of publication, does not require a negative test for release from isolation.

Today, the College extended that policy change to students who have not yet arrived on campus in an email from Executive Assistant to the Dean of the College Sue Gaskell. The email instructed students who tested positive while off campus to take a rapid test on the fifth day following their initial result — if they are able to obtain one. According to Gaskell’s email, students may only return to campus if they receive a negative result on that test.  Students who do not receive a negative rapid test result, or cannot access a rapid test,  should plan to return to campus 11 days after their initial positive test result — provided they meet the criteria for release from isolation, Gaskell wrote. 

The College’s athletics spectator policy also changed in conjunction with other NESCAC institutions on Dec. 22, according to the league and the College’s websites. This change was first publicized to students by the College through a banner alert across the top of the athletics website yesterday, and today the banner links to a permanent webpage that includes the same updated set of guidelines. According to the College’s athletics website, NESCAC institutions will temporarily require that spectators at indoor NESCAC athletic events be restricted to individuals who are part of the host institution’s testing protocol.” The policy remains in effect through the end of January. The College’s athletic department did not respond to the Record’s request for comment regarding the date the policy was implemented in time for publication.

The College has also established the post-arrival testing schedule for Winter Study and the spring semester, which will take effect on Jan. 10. According to yesterday’s email from Director of Student Administrative Affairs, Strategy, and Planning Aaron Gordon, students whose last names begin with letters A through L will test every Monday and Wednesday, while students whose last names begin with letters M through Z will test on Tuesday and Thursday. 

This article was updated on Jan. 5 to reflect a follow-up email from Cart in which he clarified that the College received delayed results, but is unsure whether or not this delay can be attributed to the Broad Institute.

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