Dear students,Leopard head with mask

As we conclude our first week of classes, we also wrap up our first week in Operational Level 2. The number of COVID-19 positive cases and evidence of student adherence to mitigation protocols determine the operational level. Although there have been a few positive cases this week, we remain on track to move to Level 1 on Monday, Feb. 22. I know you have a lot of questions about why we have certain rules, and I invite you to attend the town hall on Tuesday at 8 p.m. to learn more. I’ll also hit some of the more frequently asked items in today’s update.

Reminders and updates

  • The COVID-19 dashboard is updated every weekday, so it’s the source for the most accurate details about where we stand as a community. The current operational level is noted at the top of the dashboard as well as in each edition of Lafayette Today. Fourteen new student positives and two new employee cases were found in testing over the past seven days for a positivity rate of 0.8% for students and 0.3% for faculty and staff. 
  • After weekly screening testing, the most important thing we do is rapidly deploy contact tracing for those who test positive. Rigorous adherence to quarantine and isolation protocols is truly the only way to protect the community. 
  • Isolation means taking a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 out of their immediate living community. The purpose is to make certain there is no further contact between a person who has COVID-19 and those who do not. This is not a punishment. It is merely following the guidance of the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health. 
  • Quarantine is used to keep close contacts of confirmed cases from circulating broadly in the community. A percentage of quarantined individuals are likely to later develop COVID-19, so it is really important that they limit interactions with others. Students who go into quarantine are tested on day 1 (to be sure they do not need to immediately be in isolation) and again on day 7. The CDC has amended its quarantine guidelines to allow exit from quarantine on day 7 if the test is negative. To avoid confusion at Lafayette, you may not exit quarantine until specifically instructed by a member of the Campus Life staff.
  • Close contacts are identified through the interview process between our contact tracers and the person who tested positive for COVID-19. The determination is based on time spent together during the period two days prior to onset of symptoms or the positive test. You do not get to decide if you are a close contact or not. The contact tracers decide from the information they receive. Please do not argue with the tracers or staff. Keeping folks separated from others who may have been exposed is really important for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
  • There are a lot of rules but also plenty you can do. Take a walk outside. Attend one of our virtual programming events. Take advantage of the services and resources offered by the Counseling Center or the to-go and other great programming offered by the Office of Student Involvement. Mix it up and eat in a new location. We hope that as spring progresses we can continue to work together on ways to allow more of the social interactions you enjoy. Adherence to the guidelines now is the best way to achieve that goal.

If you have questions, please contact me.

Annette Diorio
Vice President for Campus Life