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WEEKLY RECAP, September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020


Happy Friday, students!

In my many years as a higher education professional, I’ve never experienced a semester so deserving of terms like uncharted and unprecedented. I want to commend each and every one of you for the resilience I’ve seen from you as our community has navigated the simultaneous challenges of COVID-19 and wildfire smoke.

As much as it feels like we in the administration are communicating frequently with our faculty, staff, and students (and their parents), it’s clear that there is an appetite for more. With that in mind, I’m starting a weekly column for readers of The Bark, a recap of the key updates of the week.

  • COVID-19 cases: As of yesterday, Sep. 17, we have one positive COVID-19 test out of the 1,712 tests we have conducted on campus, an on-campus positivity rate of 0.06%. We have no students currently in quarantine or self-isolating. Let’s keep this up! As always, use your face coverings, practice good hygiene, and maintain your social distance. Please remember: you shouldn’t be visiting residence halls other than your own, and you definitely should not be using restrooms in other halls.
  • Effluent testing results: Results returned to the college on Sep. 15 from wastewater samples pulled on Sep. 11 showed a moderate positive presence of coronavirus in effluence from Platt. As we get more results from effluent testing and see what’s happening, we are able to refine and improve our response.
  • Wastewater can test positive for COVID when there is a student in that residence hall who has previously had COVID, has cleared their isolation period (and is no longer infectious), but who is still shedding virus into the effluent stream. This is also why we direct students not to enter residence halls other than their own, or have visitors outside their hall, as doing so may contaminate the sample at that site.
  • As we interpret effluent testing results, we are looking at the results holistically, in light of the other data that we have. If we believe that there is clear evidence of disease in a residence hall, based on the multiple markers we are tracking, we may again ask students in that hall to self-isolate for a period of time (for example, until testing can be conducted) or to get tested.
  • At this time, we have not imposed self-isolation requirements or required individual testing for Platt residents until we see the outcome of our subsequent sample results. We expect the new test result by the end of the day today. We will then determine whether or not individual saliva testing or modified self-isolation is required of Platt residents.
  • Air Quality: Finally, some rain. Last night’s weather has improved the air quality tremendously. The forecast predicts that the air quality will continue to improve through the weekend. With that in mind, you should consider opening your windows to allow the building to regain some of the outside moisture and begin to bring down the heat that has been trapped on the upper floors. You may still continue to smell some smoke in the hallways and in your room until the areas have aired out. That should dissipate over time. If you left campus because of the air quality, we expect you to be self-isolating, and we are working on protocols for when you come back, which may include additional self-isolation and a COVID-19 test.

Lastly, good news for the weekend: With air quality on campus improving, Lewis & Clark will be resuming normal operations on Saturday, 9/19. Watzek and Boley Libraries will be open, as will Pamplin Sports Complex. Please check their websites for hours. If circumstances change we’ll let you know.

We’re doing well amid difficult circumstances. We must all continue to be vigilant about monitoring our own health and following all of the necessary health and safety precautions.

As always, WeB4Me@LC.



Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan

Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students