To our Saint Anselm parents,
I want to provide two updates to you. First, we had several positive COVID-19 cases on campus this week. As of last night, there were 12 positives, including two Saint Anselm employees for the first time this semester. We moved 43 students who had been in close contact to quarantine. This week we tested 857 students, faculty and staff resulting in a positivity rate of 1.4%.
All student positives have been traced to groups of students going off-campus to socialize last week and there were several large gatherings on campus over Halloween weekend. The result was predictable but no less disappointing – we immediately had positive cases. All semester, we have been able to draw a direct line between off-campus gatherings and spreads of COVID. Every single incident has been due to leaving the campus.
For this reason, we are stepping up enforcement of the Community Care Covenant, particularly as it relates to departing campus. To discourage students leaving for unnecessary reasons such as to go to a bar or restaurant, staff at the gates will be recording student names exiting the campus this weekend and next weekend and time stamping when they return to campus. If they are off campus for longer than 90 minutes, they will receive a follow-up call from the Dean of Students office. Students who have pre-approved reasons to leave, including commuters; those with part-time jobs, internships and clinicals; and ROTC students, may continue to do so. These students should have previously informed Health Services to be included in our COVID testing list of high-risk students.
We have been measured in our approach throughout the semester; however, with an uptick in cases this week, we believe it is appropriate to enact more stringent enforcement for the remainder of the semester. We ask for your support in protecting our campus bubble for two more weeks. As you know, there are surges happening throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and cases are rising in New York, Vermont and Maine. Any off-campus travel puts our community at risk.
To be clear, COVID cases were anticipated, particularly as we reached the later part of the semester, which is why we set an academic calendar that started in mid-August and has us leaving campus before Thanksgiving. And this brings me to my second update. This week we sent students initial information about move-out at the end of the semester:
- Final exams will take place Thursday, Dec. 3 to Wednesday, Dec. 9. Students will need to take whatever materials they will need to prepare for exams, including their laptop, camera and microphone. If they have technology needs, they should contact our Information Technology department before departing campus.
- Students are strongly urged to depart within 24 hours of their last in-person class; for example, if their last in-person class/clinical/internship/lab is on Tuesday, Nov. 17, they should plan to depart on Wednesday, Nov. 18 if possible.
- Given the importance of the final week of classes and exam preparation, quiet hours on campus will begin Sunday, Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. and extend through the remainder of the week.
- All students will need to depart from on-campus residences no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20.
- If a student is being picked up, we request that only one person come to campus. When possible, that person should stay outside or remain in their vehicle until the student arrives with his/her belongings. We require masking and social distancing by all of those who come to campus to pick up a student.
- As a reminder, students will not need to take all of their belongings home.
- Students may request a COVID test prior to move-out if they are concerned about a family members who is at higher risk or about their own health. They need to be in touch with Health Services to schedule the test.
Last night during my virtual town hall meeting with students, I concluded by acknowledging this has been a difficult semester for all of us, and by thanking our students for being cooperative, patient and flexible as we worked through all the challenges of the pandemic. I also want to thank you, the parents. We are almost to the finish line. Together, we will get there.
Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.