Dear Students,

While all college campuses expected to see some COVID-19 cases this fall, last week’s spike in cases among Lafayette students was unusually high given the high rate of vaccination on our campus. We understand from our local health networks that cases in Northampton County remain very high.

The CDC reports approximately 65% of Northampton County residents were fully vaccinated as of Sept. 19. Data from the CDC and other sources show that breakthrough cases, while possibly more frequent than first anticipated, rarely result in the most serious outcomes. As mentioned in Dr. Goldstein’s message last week, breakthrough cases are likely to result in only minor symptoms similar to a cold virus. Fortunately, none of our cases have resulted in hospitalization or other serious consequences. 

For us to return to some form of normal, we require everyone’s cooperation in managing the campus environment as safely as we can.

Dining Services will resume normal operations, including indoor dining, with breakfast Wednesday. If you are concerned about dining in, you may still request a container to take your food to go. Remember, if you are identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 you need to take your food to go until your test 3-5 days post-exposure returns negative.

Mask expectation
Members of the community gathering in groups inside are expected to wear masks. This means in classrooms and inside all other campus buildings. Masks should not be removed to eat or drink while in class. Masks are to be worn in College vehicles and on the LCAT shuttles.

There are some circumstances under which a class might transition to remote delivery as we navigate COVID-19. Examples include a situation that impacts a faculty member who is required to isolate, too many students in isolation for the course to pedagogically function in person, or a faculty member needing to care for a family member who is required to isolate. In these circumstances, you will hear from your faculty member about the limited time the course will be offered remotely. 

Out-of-classroom programming
College programming will continue as planned except in those cases where too many students involved with running the program are in isolation or have been identified as close contacts and should not be attending larger group events. Informal student social events are certainly encouraged to move outdoors if possible. Large, indoor, or outdoor high-risk events—such as parties involving unmasked participants—remain problematic, not least of all because if someone in the group tests positive for COVID-19, the number and names of close contacts can be unreliable. 

Residence hall cross-visitation will resume Wednesday.

Visitors to campus
Effective Sept. 20, proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test is required for all those visiting campus for events. Overnight guests are discouraged; students must register guests even in non-COVID-19 times to ensure that we know who is here in case of an emergency. We strongly encourage guests, whether staying overnight or visiting for the day, to be vaccinated.

The bottom line with COVID-19 is there is a lot we still do not know. Our student population is highly vaccinated, yet over the course of about 10 days we had almost 6% of it in isolation. There is hope for what we can do to keep each other safe, and there are things you can do regarding your own health and safety:

  • Wear a mask, especially in your classrooms and inside common spaces of campus buildings but also outdoors in large group settings where you can’t distance yourself from others.
  • If you are identified as a close contact for someone who tests positive for COVID-19, make sure you get your test 3-5 days post-exposure at Bailey Health Center. You also should monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after exposure, but you should not re-test unless you become symptomatic.
  • The settings with the most risk of spreading COVID are crowded, indoor, and maskless environments, but you can enjoy many social activities and opportunities in smaller groups or outside. 

The vast majority of students have done the right things, and we do not wish to restrict your enjoyment of the campus and each other. We together faced a serious challenge to the health of our campus community last week, and we appreciate your working with us.

Remember, safer together and stronger together.

Be safe and stay well,

COVID-19 Action Group