Dear Whitman community,

I want to provide an update on the quarantine situation in Anderson Hall as things have developed in the past 24 hours and also let you know how we are adjusting activities on campus in light of these cases.

Update on Anderson Hall Quarantine

As a result of Wednesday’s positive cases, we tested the rest of the students in Anderson on Thursday. From that testing, two new students received positive results. In addition, a student in Anderson tested positive via a Tuesday sample from the college’s pooled surveillance testing. All of Tuesday’s surveillance test results are now complete. The students who received positive tests have been moved to isolation housing outside of Anderson. So far, students in Anderson who have tested positive have been asymptomatic or have displayed mild symptoms such as stuffy noses and sore throats.

Because of these additional positive results, we will need to continue quarantining Anderson Hall. We will do another round of testing this Saturday and again on Monday to make sure we catch any asymptomatic cases.

I want to thank countless staff for quickly responding to the needs of the students living there. Staff were able to quickly put in place food delivery, mail delivery, shower scheduling, a system that allows students to do laundry and enhanced cleaning. This was a collaborative effort between Residence Life, Bon Appétit, Custodial Services and the Campus Post Office.

We have received a lot of questions from people concerned about their own safety. If you have experienced even mild symptoms of COVID-19 report this through the Daily Wellness Check so that we can follow up with you. Symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever (100.4 or higher), chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

Also, I again want to remind everyone that the students who tested positive have gone through the contact tracing process and have identified those who they believe were in close contact with them. If you still believe you were in close contact with a student who you know tested positive, you can reach out to the health center at 509-527-5295. A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. This definition applies even if one or both parties are wearing a face mask.

Future news on quarantines and other COVID updates will appear in Whitman Today.

Whitman Threshold Action Level and Campus Activities

After much deliberation, the cabinet and elected faculty leadership in discussion with our consulting epidemiologist have decided to remain in Threshold Action Level 2 (Medium). However, a number of temporary modifications are going into effect immediately:

  • We are closing residence halls to inter-campus visits. Residential students may only enter their own hall and are not allowed to host any visitors from other residence halls or from off campus.

  • Sit-down dining in Cleveland Commons and Jewett Cafe is suspended. All on-campus meal service will return to grab-and-go and remains limited to students only. We will postpone opening grab-and-go service for faculty and staff.

  • Cleveland Commons and Jewett Cafe will be available as study spaces. Students must be properly masked and follow social distancing practices, including marked occupancy and seating limits.

  • We are postponing the reopening of BFFC, the climbing wall and the tennis courts for recreational student use. SSRA classes will continue to meet in-person following masking, distancing and occupancy guidelines.

While we hope the current outbreak is contained, we believe these restrictions are necessary to minimize the further spread of COVID between residence halls and other campus populations. Monitoring the situation through surveillance testing, the Daily Wellness Check and other health and safety measures will help us evaluate how long these measures remain in place.

Remember to continue masking up, completing the Daily Wellness Check, taking your assigned COVID-19 tests and avoid gathering in groups. Taking these steps together will help us minimize the spread of COVID at Whitman so that we can return to gradually opening up more activity on campus.

Best,

Peter Harvey

Chair, Coronavirus Task Force