Dear Saint Anselm Community,
As we continue to wait for all election votes to be counted, I want to provide you with two updates. First, a COVID update. Unfortunately, we had several positive COVID 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 have 43 students in quarantine who had been in close contact. 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 leaving campus. To discourage students leaving campus for unnecessary reasons such as to go to a bar or restaurant, staff at the gates will be recording student names when they leave campus this weekend and next weekend and also 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. I apologize for any initial confusion about this.
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.
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. We will continue to assess the situation and are prepared to take further action as needed.
My second update is happier. You may recall that we had a "Snow Day" for students a couple of weeks ago. This got us thinking about a similar, unexpected break for our staff. While part of the fun for students was to make it an unexpected day off, we want to provide you the opportunity to make plans, so I am announcing that the college will be closing for the full Thanksgiving week, November 23-27. Full-time staff will see the additional time reflected as Holiday Pay. Part-time hourly staff who would have had hours scheduled that week will be paid for regularly-scheduled hours. If you have any questions, please reach out to your supervisor or to Human Resources.
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, faculty and staff. We all have a bit of “pandemic fatigue” at this point. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for delivering an outstanding semester in every way. We are almost to the finish line. Together, we will get there.
Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.