September 1, 2020
This will be a somewhat unusual letter. I have written before about guidelines for student behavior, and this time I am writing in part to address concerns students have expressed about our behavior. I have heard from many of you that our letters aren't accurately capturing just how difficult the fall semester has already been. I have also heard some skepticism about the numbers and some concerns about our testing protocols. I want to address all of this, and some more things that I think you should know.
I know how hard this semester has been for many of you. Whether it's because you've had to isolate or quarantine, or you're a new student struggling to make connections in light of the current restrictions, or you're a returning student and you just miss the way things were last year– it's all tough. While a small minority have expressed nonchalant attitudes about the coronavirus, I know most of you know how serious this is, and I also know that it is causing many of you a great deal of anxiety.
Some of you have expressed concern about the data that we have released, and its accuracy and frequency. In addition to our weekly emails, we hope that by next week we will have a dashboard that will reflect our data on a daily basis. Currently, our data reflects the results of tests administered to students, faculty and staff on-campus, as well as those from testing locations outside of the Tulane system, as long as those tested report their results to us. We strongly encourage you to use our testing facilities rather than go off-campus to be tested. If you do go off-campus, and get a positive test result, it is critical that you complete the COVID-19 Reporting Form. We need this information in order to include it in our statistics, but also because we need to be sure close contacts of positive cases are appropriately quarantined.
We have seen an increase in cases in certain on-campus residence halls. In order to combat this, it is of the utmost importance that on-campus students adhere to the visitation policy of only one guest per person, per room. There has been some confusion in Irby and Phelps, but this rule holds true for all residence halls. Even if you have eight people in your suite, you can only have four people in a double occupancy room at any given time. Like I said in my last email, I am truly proud that most of you Tulane students are following our public health expectations diligently, but now is the time when we need to really be extra vigilant to control the spread.
One area of confusion is symptomatic or exposure testing, and testing in general. We created a document to try to simplify this that you can find here.
Another area of misinformation relates to isolation and quarantine spaces. As you know, we opened the Hyatt Regency quarantine location last week. We did this for two reasons: first, the mounting anxiety about contacts being housed in Paterson with students who were positive, and second, to create more space. We are regularly hearing rumors that Paterson and the Hyatt Regency are full. This is not true, and it's important for you to know that if that becomes true, we have overflow plans for each grouping.
We know that we are expecting a lot from you. We are working really hard to keep things moving in a safe way, and we cannot do this without you. I know there have been and likely will be some missteps along the way, but please know that we are doing everything we can to make sure that you are safe and well informed. We appreciate your diligence and support as we move through fall of 2020 together. If you have feedback that you'd like to share with us, or a concern that you would like to share, the best way to do this is to submit it using our online report form.
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Dean of Students