To the Saint Anselm Community,
As we close an eventful week on campus, I want to share our COVID-19 test results and our plans going forward. As you know, four students tested positive on Tuesday, Sept. 15; since then, four students tested positive on Wednesday, Sept. 16; one on Thursday, Sept. 17; and one on Friday, Sept. 18. All 10 students who tested positive have been moved to isolation housing and those who were in close contact were quarantined pending further testing and guidance from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. All of the students remain asymptomatic and in good spirits.
Without question, we are taking these COVID-19 results seriously and we have moved quickly to respond. The contact tracing efforts, led by the State in coordination with our Health Services team, has been underway since Tuesday afternoon in an effort to find and test anyone who may have had sustained contact with these individuals. Six hundred and sixty-two tests were conducted this week, with no additional positives. In an abundance of caution, we expanded testing to all students who live in the residence hall where the positive students reside. While we cannot provide details, due to health privacy laws, we can share that eight of the students who tested positive are part of a shared affinity group, and the ninth was a roommate. At this point, we believe we have identified and contained the cluster.
In making our plans for the semester, we anticipated the appearance of COVID-19 cases on campus, as it would have been unrealistic to assume we could eliminate the threat entirely. Instead, we focused on mitigating the risk and containing a spread with health and safety protocols, investments in physical changes on campus, and the purchase of a Sofia 2 analyzer, which gives us the ability to conduct our own rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. We remain fully confident in our plans.
It is helpful that we are a relatively small residential college, allowing us to be largely successful at placing a “bubble” over our community, and to be in New Hampshire, where the positively rate has remained near 1%. At the same time, this week’s events are a reminder that we must remain vigilant.
- Watch your emails and report for surveillance testing when you are selected.
- If you have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus, contact Health Services.
- Respond honestly and forthrightly if contacted by the State for contact tracing. This is critical to our ability to contain the spread of the virus.
- Unless completely alone, wear a mask and maintain physical distancing and restrict close contact to your “family unit.”
- Do not invite visitors to campus and refrain from making off-campus trips.
FACULTY / STAFF:
- Model good behavior and help lead the way with our community efforts by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
- Be flexible with students who are in isolation or quarantine, and therefore are unable to attend class in person. These students have been told to contact you directly. For privacy reasons, this information will not come from Health Services or Student Affairs.
- A protocol is now in place for testing faculty and staff who have reason to believe they have been exposed to coronavirus. Please work with HR; you will be receiving a communication from them soon.
Let me stress, this is no time for rumors, panic, finger-pointing or second-guessing. We are facing an invisible virus that is highly contagious and we must work together as an Anselmian community to combat it.
Our senior leadership team will continue to be transparent about what we are doing and why we are doing it. Be sure to join me for our bi-weekly Town Halls, which will continue on Wednesdays. I also encourage you to visit our COVID-19 response page at Anselm.edu, which includes an interactive dashboard with our coronavirus testing data.
With nine weeks left to our time on the Hilltop this semester, we have done well, and each of you has helped us get to this point. So keep your guard up and let’s press on to Thanksgiving.
Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.
For more information, see more about our COVID-19 Tracking