The latest update from the Ready & Resilient Committee on a range of topics related to Fall semester.
In our commitment to provide periodic updates on Ready & Resilient (R&R) planning, this email includes:
- R&R Oversight Committee Reorganization
- Notifications about Quarantine/Isolation of Students, Faculty, and Staff
- Who is in Quarantine/Isolation and Why do the Numbers Often Change?
- New FAQs
- Random Surveillance Testing
- Dashboard & Alert System
- Fact-Checking Rumors
What follows is provided in support of our goals of transparency, open communication, and the promotion of vigilance in our community practices to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
R&R Oversight Committee Reorganization
With the Fall semester underway, the R&R Oversight Committee has been re-organized into the following teams:
- Random & Rapid Testing: Searching for rapid testing partners, planning for possible rapid test deployment, continuing to monitor random and ongoing testing. (Ginette Archinal, Jason Husser, Jeff Stein and consultant Becky Neiduski)
- Alert Levels: Advance planning for potential increases in alert levels and potential shifts in campus operations. (Kelli Shuman, Tom Flood, Paul Miller, MarQuita Barker, and consultant Steven House)
- Communications: Gathering FAQs, communicating new strategies, helping to fact-check rumors, updating R&R website. (Mike Ward, Kelly Reimer, Dan Anderson, Deandra Little)
- Winter and Spring Terms: Planning testing, training, structures, calendars, and pre-semester requirements for students, faculty, and staff. (Gabie Smith, John Barnhill, Randy Williams, Carrie Ryan, and consultant Maurice Levesque)
Notifications about Quarantine/Isolation of Students, Faculty, and Staff
Here are the standard protocols for identifying individuals for isolation (positive cases) and quarantine (exhibiting symptoms or close contact with a positive case):
- After a healthcare provider alerts the Alamance County Health Department of a positive case of COVID-19, the health department notifies the university and contacts the infected person to offer support and commence contact tracing.
- Student Care and Outreach then sends faculty and work supervisors an “Elon Attendance Notification” and explains that a student is now in quarantine or isolation.
- Quarantine or isolation timetables are determined by medical personnel and the Health Department based on date of exposure, etc. Quarantine and isolation for confirmed cases and close contacts can last up to 14 days or more. Students, faculty, and staff are expected to abide by the guidance and directives of the Health Department and medical personnel and remain in quarantine until a health professional clears them to exit.
- Student Care and Outreach sends a follow up email to faculty and work supervisors once quarantine or isolation is completed.
- Faculty and staff may hear directly from students about these cases, but Student Care and Outreach will provide the official notifications Due to HIPAA, Student Care and Outreach will provide minimal detail other than quarantine/isolation status. If you have any questions about the validity of a student report that they are in mandatory quarantine, please email StudentConcerns@elon.edu.
This process is slightly altered for faculty and staff isolation and quarantine. Human Resources serves as the primary contact for faculty and staff in quarantine or isolation. Human Resources will send official notifications to supervisors about the start and completion of employee quarantine or isolation.
Who is in Quarantine & Isolation and Why do the Numbers Often Change?
Positive cases, close contacts, and those awaiting test results are placed in quarantine/isolation. You can read more about contact tracing and isolation/quarantine on the R&R website.
The Health Department and Student Care and Outreach err on the side of caution, using these spaces to ensure confirmed and potential cases are removed from contact with the rest of the campus population. Isolation/quarantine numbers fluctuate multiple times daily due to the following:
- Students are quickly moved to quarantine/isolation when they meet the established criteria. This is a best practice in limiting community exposure to real or potential cases.
- Students are also regularly released from isolation/quarantine as soon as medical personnel clear them for exit.
Frequent use of quarantine/isolation indicates Elon’s active approach to case management. We know this puts extensive demands on faculty and staff, but we feel it is the right approach to protect everyone on campus. We appreciate your support of these rapidly changing situations.
The R&R Communications Team has begun working on new FAQs. The first items developed in response to questions gathered from faculty and staff can be read here on the R&R FAQ page. These items will be marked as NEW.
Random Surveillance Testing
We know that COVID-19 testing is imperfect. Nonetheless, surveillance testing is an important tool in discovering asymptomatic cases and limiting virus spread. While we identified no positive cases in our first week of random testing we must never become complacent about mask-wearing, reduced density and physical distancing. In fact, we need to continue adding new policies and practices as we learn more about the virus spread to keep the community safe (such as recent changes requiring masks on basketball and volleyball courts and restricting usage of these courts to Phoenix Card holders).
We appreciate the high levels of student, faculty and staff participation and compliance with ongoing random testing, as well as the rapid communication from local health departments when Elon students, faculty or staff members have tested positive. Contrary to rumors, students have been extremely responsive to and engaged in ongoing random testing.
Additionally, we are working hard to identify new testing approaches (such as the Yale saliva test and other recent tests) that are highly accurate, rapid, and available to support our large campus population. This could allow us to increase the number of tests we conduct each week.
- Week One: Additional week one test results have been processed. The dashboard now shows 332 random screening, symptomatic testing, random student-athlete testing, and indirect contact tests.
- Week Two: Onsite testing in Alumni Gym this Wednesday included more than 325 tests. These included random surveillance testing of students, including student athletes, as well as testing of some indirect contacts. Random mail-in kits were also used this week for faculty, staff, and graduate student random testing. We will report these results next Wednesday.
- Week Three: Starting Thursday, we began using JeffStein-CovidTest@elon.edu to send emails to those selected for surveillance testing. If you receive the “URGENT: You’re selected for random testing this week” email, please promptly follow the directions for ordering your test.
- Symptomatic Testing: As of Thursday evening, 2 out of 51 symptomatic tests conducted for students since move-in have come back positive. Our other six student cases have come through tracing from off-campus cases or asymptomatic testing.
Dashboard & Alert System
With the pre-semester LabCorp testing complete and first results of our weekly surveillance testing now available, Elon’s COVID-19 Dashboard has been expanded. The dashboard now tracks weekly results of COVID-19 tests conducted through the university. In addition, we have expanded our count of students in quarantine/isolation to include both those in designated quarantine single rooms or local hotels, as well as students who are quarantined in their regular assigned single rooms on campus or in their off-campus housing.
A data analysis team reviews the dashboard and other metrics daily and consults twice a week with data scientists from Cone Health.
As with any crisis, health or otherwise, rumors spread faster than facts and can impact community confidence and understanding. Please continue to bring questions forward, help to quell rumors, and create discussions around facts. We have heard many unfounded rumors about unreported cases, large gatherings, resistance to participating in testing, and other matters. If you hear a rumor, please check the facts. We are happy to respond to questions and provide information, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the R&R committee.
Thank you for your continued suggestions, vigilance, and commitment to keeping our community as safe as possible.
The Ready & Resilient Committee
- Jeff Stein, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Professor of English (Chair)
- Dan Anderson, Vice President of University Communications
- Ginette Archinal, Medical Director of Student Health and University Physician
- MarQuita Barker, Director of Residence Life
- John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for University Advancement
- Tom Flood, Assistant Vice President of Physical Plant
- Jason Husser, Associate Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies, and Director of the Elon Poll (Academic Council Representative)
- Deandra Little, Assistant Provost, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and Professor of English
- Paul Miller, Assistant Provost for Academic Operations and Communications and Professor of Exercise Science
- Kelly Reimer, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies (Staff Council Representative)
- Carrie Ryan, Director of Auxiliary Services
- Kelli Shuman, Associate Vice President for Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer
- Gabie Smith, Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology
- Mary Southern, Project Manager for Provost and Academic Affairs Operations (Project Manager)
- Mike Ward, Deputy Director of Athletics
- Randy Williams, Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Assistant Professor of Education