Students began arriving on campus in large numbers one week ago, and I can share how happy I am to see the campus animated with the energy the semester brings. Today is the first day of classes, and, as most of you know, this week everyone is studying remotely. The faculty have worked with creativity and diligence in constructing courses that will stimulate and instruct in this most unusual context. Wesleyan teachers want to connect with the students, and we will find ways to do so despite the constraints created by the pandemic.
We have given a few thousand tests, and so far we have had two positive employee cases (and those people are in isolation), and we have had two students thus far who have tested positive. The students don’t have symptoms and are in supportive isolation until they are medically cleared to return to campus. We also have had several students who informed us of having tested positive before leaving for Middletown. They are staying home until medically cleared to return to campus when they are no longer contagious. You can find our testing results on this dashboard, which will be updated at least twice weekly.
As a reminder, we’ll be testing all students twice weekly to allow us to detect COVID in the pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic stage and to isolate any infected students and their close contacts in order to stop the spread of the disease. We’ll also be testing faculty and staff who are working on campus. More information on testing frequency and schedules is available on our Testing website.
Students remain in quarantine this week, although in addition to being able to grab meals and exercise they can socialize in small groups with folks from their residences. The size of gatherings will be crucial all semester. If we do have contagion, we can control spread if the tracing of contacts doesn’t lead us to large groups. I am delighted to see everyone wearing masks on campus, and folks seem to be taking the situation with the seriousness it deserves. They are also clearly thrilled to be on campus. Please continue to wear masks and remind others to do the same!
I am so proud of the staff who have put together this complex operation. The operations team, with Rick Culliton as the point person, has done exemplary work. They even had to deal with a tornado watch! Happily, we only had brief rain delays. Bon Appetit has done extraordinary work making delicious food available at multiple locations. There have certainly been the occasional lines, but we are doing our best to remind folks to maintain social distance as they await their meal choices.
We will need to remain vigilant and creative in order to make the most of this semester. I’m looking forward to meeting my film and philosophy class this evening. It will be good to connect!