September 18 update to COVID-19 alert notification from Vice President Jon Dooley

An update from Vice President for Student Life John Dooley following the shift to Level 2 - Moderate Alert following an increase in the number of confirmed cases on campus this week.

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Following yesterday’s announcement of 25 new COVID-19 cases on campus, further testing of student-athletes has identified additional cases, including two new team clusters:

  • In the daily COVID-19 Dashboard update at 4:00 p.m. today, we reported 32 new positive cases confirmed in the past 24 hours.
  • The campus alert level remains at Level 2 – Moderate Alert. Remember that the model is based on multiple factors and is not driven by any single metric.
    The Alamance County Health Department will report two new clusters to the state today among student-athletes from the baseball and lacrosse teams. Information about how the NC Department of Health and Human Services defines a “cluster” of cases and requires local health department reporting can be found online here.
  • Since Monday we have confirmed 67 total student cases on campus, with 43 involving student-athletes across multiple sports. We are still awaiting test results from an additional 12 student-athletes who are exhibiting symptoms. While the three clusters of cases in athletics have been a large part of this surge of cases, it’s important to note that our random surveillance testing the past two weeks indicates a positivity rate among the rest of the campus population of less than one percent.
  • The total number of students in quarantine and isolation has increased significantly due to these new cases, but the majority of students are staying in their existing residences, either off-campus apartments or in on-campus single rooms with private bathrooms. We still have adequate capacity in our designated quarantine spaces in local hotels and reserved campus quarantine housing.

This information has been shared over the past two days to keep our community informed about the transmission of the virus and is not meant to blame or shame any particular group of individuals. Cases do not always arise from impermissible activities or large gatherings – many are simply connected to contact among close friends, roommates and individuals who spend a significant amount of time together. This illustrates the importance of protecting yourself and others, even in relaxed settings with your close circle of friends.

Even as we continue full operations on the campus and maintain current in-person and remote services, with a higher campus alert level we must continue to work together to combat the spread of the virus. Below you will find some specific additional actions the university is taking, guided by the alert matrix, as well as some recommendations for what individuals can be doing.

Actions being taken by the university

  • Students who had close contact with positive cases and those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 have been moved to quarantine. We are also increasing staffing and resources for quarantine locations to meet the expanded need for support of these students.
  • Elon Athletics has stopped all in-person workouts, weight training and operations until further notice. Physical Plant staff will continue to fog and maintain extensive cleaning protocols to disinfect all athletics facilities.
  • Testing will be conducted for all student members and related staff from athletic teams with an identified cluster of cases.
  • Elon is working closely with the health department to carry out established protocols for testing, contact tracing and notification and quarantine, with an increase of staff time and focus on those efforts with the rise in cases.

What you can do

  • Rededicate your commitment to consistently wearing face coverings properly, maintaining physical distance, adhering to gathering limits, and practicing other healthy habits. Please wear a mask at all times when you leave your room/apartment/house/office.
  • As you socialize, do so only in small groups – limited mainly to those you live with – and keep your mask on and maintain physical distance, especially indoors.
  • In dining halls, be sure to leave distance between you and the other individuals in line or at tables. Consider taking your meal to-go and eating at one of the many outdoor tables and tents set up near the dining hall for that purpose.
  • In hallways, common spaces, classrooms and other indoor spaces, be especially mindful of maintaining physical distance from others and properly cleaning the surfaces you use.
  • Students living off-campus should educate themselves on the state guidance for off-campus shared housing settings.
  • The next planned update will be our regular weekly email at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, September 23, unless an earlier message is warranted.

Classes continue to be a main focus as we enter into the second month of the semester. I hope you have a productive weekend, but also find time for rest and relaxation as well. Thank you for your shared commitment to our success this fall.

Dr. Jon Dooley

Vice President for Student Life