Jan. 12 | 5:30 p.m.
In a campus-wide email sent on Wednesday, Jan. 12, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom announced a “recover-in-place” strategy for students who test positive for COVID-19. The College will permit students who test positive to isolate in their rooms, as long as they live in a single dorm. Students who live in doubles who test positive will be moved to isolation housing, while their roommate will remain in the original double room, as long as they continue to test negative. If both roommates test positive at the same time, they will isolate together in their double room.
The policy is a distinct change from the previous isolation protocol, in which all students who tested positive were moved to isolation rooms in Thompson, Parsons, Sewell, and the Williams Inn. Sandstrom noted that the change arose due to a recent uptake in COVID cases on campus as a result of the Omicron variant and to make better use of the College’s 152 isolation beds. Between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, 134 students tested positive, according to the College’s COVID dashboard.
Sandstrom noted that because case numbers are likely to keep rising, continuing the current strategy of moving all students who test positive would prove “unlikely to be sustainable” given the lack of available rooms.
The new “recover-in-place” policy was intended to “reduce disruption to people’s lives while still protecting public health for our community,” and Sandstrom explained that the decision to move to a new isolation protocol arose out of conversations with other schools that reported success with the strategy. The email noted that students who test positive are permitted to return home to isolate themselves if they have a personal vehicle and live within driving distance, or if they can get picked up, as long as they communicate with the Health Center. This option has also been available to students since Sandstrom introduced it in a Jan. 3 email.
Sandstrom added that specific bathrooms would be designated in each dorm for those isolating in place. Each residence hall will have one bathroom specifically for students who have tested positive.
Self-isolating students and students who are currently isolating in Parsons, Sewall, or Thompson will pick up their meals from the Dodd dining hall and are required to use the KN95 masks provided by the Health Center. The kitchen will be open from 1:30-3:00 p.m., during which time students will pick up their lunch, dinner, and breakfast meals for the next day. According to Sandstrom, students with serious symptoms will be “provided with alternate meal arrangements.” Students currently isolating in the Williams Inn will continue to receive meal deliveries.
The College has not announced changes to any of its other COVID protocols, but Sandstrom noted that if cases continue to rise, the administration could move to stricter protocols, including a campus-wide isolation or limiting off-campus travel.