Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am writing to update the community on COVID-19 and to review some recommendations to keep our campus healthy this fall. May 2023 marked the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, and the College made some important policy changes for pandemic preparedness in the spring aligned with the federal declaration. As expected, with the new highly contagious variants circulating in our community, we have seen an increase in cases during the first two weeks of classes. 

For the same reasons, I expect to see a rise in the number of infections in the coming weeks. Recently, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 have increased nationwide, although rates remain low in Northampton County. Data on the virulence of newer variants is lacking, but for most people, symptoms are generally mild and include sore throat, cough, congestion, headache, and fatigue.

In an effort to mitigate a rising number of infections on campus, I would like to offer some important guidance for those who become ill or come in contact with others who test positive.

While I encourage you to assess your individual risk factors in making decisions about masking and vaccines, there are five primary preventative measures we ask you to take to keep our infection rate as low as possible: 

  1. If you are symptomatic, get tested.
  2. If you are symptomatic, (a) use a mask regardless of the test result since a negative test does not guarantee that you are not infected with the virus, and (b) do your best to isolate yourself from others. 
  3. For those who test positive:
    • Employees who test positive should stay home and isolate for at least 5 days; you are most likely to infect others during this time. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms.
    • Students who test positive should not attend class. Further:
      • Students should always self-report via the Bailey Health Center website regardless of where the test was performed. After self-reporting, you will receive an email from the health center with instructions. A Dean’s Excuse will be issued from the health center. 
      • Isolate in your assigned room or off-campus housing for at least 5 days. Select a grab-and-go option for dining and have a friend pick up the meal for you if possible. 
      • The health center has added a nurse phone line after our operating hours. If you have a question or are unsure what to do, please call 610-590-2719.
    • For employees and students: While you may end isolation after 5 days if your symptoms are improving and you are fever free, you should wear a KN95 mask through day 10.
  4. If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, CDC guidance recommends masking, especially while indoors, for 10 days. Testing is recommended on day 6, sooner if you feel sick.
  5. In addition to basic health and hygiene preventive strategies such as regular and thorough hand washing, you can lower your risk of getting sick by spending more time outdoors, maximizing ventilation while inside, staying up to date with vaccines, and avoiding contact with people who are sick. 

Thanks for taking care of yourself and looking out for others.

Be well,

Jeff Goldstein, MD
Director of Health Services