September 23 update from the Ready & Resilient Committee

The latest update from the Ready & Resilient Committee about the recent increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.

Dear Campus Community,

The increase in cases on campus over the past seven days has all of us concerned. Monday’s targeted testing of students who may have been exposed to positive cases was successful in identifying additional cases. While additional cases are never good news, these results tell us that using our testing resources to identify cases quickly and move those individuals to isolation is an effective strategy in limiting the spread of the virus. The impact of our current cases and clusters may take 10-14 days to resolve.

We certainly don’t have all the answers, and there is no formula or handbook for this work. We ask for your continued support, cooperation, vigilance, good ideas and grace as we navigate these unknown waters together. If you see a problem, please speak up and let us know. Keeping the semester going in-person requires the active engagement and efforts of all of us. Below please find answers to a few questions that have come up since the shift to Level 3 – High Alert.

How do I share concerns about a student, ask about quarantine, or report an incident?

You can share concerns about students or report incidents by completing one of the forms on the Share a Concern/Report an Incident Form page. If you have questions about student reports of quarantine, please email


  • This week’s two additional days of testing capacity added to our usual random weekly testing (including additional testing of indirect contacts and re-testing of current cases) will help us to identify both new cases and cases related to recently reported clusters.
  • Symptomatic: If you are experiencing symptoms, contact Student Health Services about testing on-site or at one of the locations listed on the Student Health Services web site.
  • Increasing Testing: Like many institutions, Elon’s Testing Team is searching for partners that can provide our community with greater testing capacity. Some schools in the Northeast are partnering on fast affordable tests with the Broad Institute, which was unable to work with Elon. Other larger, research institutions are fortunate to have labs or university hospitals on campus that can process tests. There is no such partner available to us at this time. As part of Elon’s efforts to expand testing, we have engaged partnership conversations with labs, hospitals, test companies, test suppliers, and more as we consider PCR, antigen and pool testing. Supplies for many of the new antigen tests are in short supply – for example the new Abbott test has directed its first 150 million tests to the federal government and is not expected to be available to us until February. Each week we make additional connections and calls. Last week, we spoke with two potential lab companies, one lab supplier and one hospital. Monday, we spoke with an additional lab company, and today with spoke with a rapid antigen test company that will be available in January. We know increased testing will be a crucial tool to help us get ahead of this virus, and we will continue our search to find a viable testing partner for Elon.

Context and Actions Taken for High Alert

Some have assumed and been frustrated that we have not used an exact formula to implement each possible item from Elon’s Alert Matrix and “key operational guidance.” Instead, we have attempted to use strategies from across the matrix/guidance to target the current cases and context. The key operational guidance provides actions that can be tailored to specific contexts. Therefore, we try not to choose actions, such as shifting to grab and go meals, shifting all classes online, or campus quarantine, when they are not warranted by the context or supported/advised by health officials/experts.

Campus Quarantine

Some have expressed concerns about what happens if the campus reaches Level 4 – Very High Alert. As President Book mentioned in her video today, state and national health officials have been clear that closing campuses and sending students back to their homes is careless and ill-advised. Instead, colleges experiencing high numbers of cases are asked to shelter students in place, with virtual classes and limited activities other than classes and meals. Notre Dame and Butler are examples of recent universities using this approach successfully to dramatically reduce cases before reopening campus again. R&R members have considered how such a shift might occur on campus, if needed.

Is Quarantine Good or Bad?

Some have asked why we have not closed down the campus with nearly 300 students in quarantine or isolation. This question misunderstands the goal of quarantine and isolation. We are able to stay in person because we have used quarantine and isolation to separate and sequester those who have tested positive or been exposed to positive cases from the rest of campus. Isolation and quarantine are challenging to say the least. But this strategy keeps the virus from spreading further.

The R&R Committee appreciates your questions and advice. We will continue updating the R&R website and providing regular communications.

Thank you,

Jeff Stein, Ready & Resilient Committee Chair

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