On September 10, student surveillance testing determined that two members of our community have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The College’s Pandemic Response Team has been preparing for this event since March. All of our protocols – behavioral infection management, social distancing, surveillance testing, and wastewater analysis – were designed to prevent and prepare for the arrival of COVID-19 on our campus. We are ready to manage this moment to keep our community healthy and safe.
Our ongoing relationship with CDC is now paying off. They are now fully supporting us with contact tracing, notification, and additional testing. They are confident in our approach, and are working closely with the Health & Wellness Center to manage the next steps.
The CDC has provided guidance specifically for Institutions of Higher Education (IHE). With any confirmed, positive COVID-19 case, and in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, Saint Joseph’s College has notified local health officials, informed the College community of these cases, while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), FERPA, HIPPA and/or other applicable laws and regulations.
Contact tracing is in process for the notification of those individuals who have had close contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19. The individuals who tested positive, as well as their close contacts, will be asked to stay home or in O’Connor Hall’s expanded health center housing, self-monitor for symptoms, and follow Saint Joseph’s College protocols and CDC guidance. Depending on their status, students will remain in isolation for 10-14 days.
Of particular relevance is the way that the College has identified these positive cases. Two elements of the College’s pandemic response include random surveillance testing of our students, and periodic testing and analysis of campus wastewater. Both approaches are specifically designed to identify the presence of COVID-19 on campus, and in this particular case, these processes identified infected individuals. Moving forward, we will continue with our surveillance and wastewater testing programs, and will scale them according to the needs of our community.
We’ve been asking everyone in this community to behave as if COVID-19 was already on campus. Now that it is, it’s critical not to let anxiety take over, but to maintain our adherence to the things that work: masks, distancing, handwashing, and disinfecting. Please keep these important safety practices as part of your daily routine.
This community will meet this moment with one of our most cherished values: compassion. We are a small campus where word travels fast and widely. Please keep in mind that privacy is paramount for the people affected, and that medical privacy is especially important to protect at this time. This part of the Saint Joseph’s mission feels very relevant today: Inspired by the example of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, we open our hearts to those among us in physical, psychological, or spiritual need.
Even with preparation and compassion, this will be a stressful moment. If you are feeling anxious or have specific questions about our response to this event, please reach out to a Leadership Team member or Pandemic Response Team member.
Thank you, and stay safe.
The Pandemic Response Team