February 4, 2021
Dear Tulane Community:
Last week, we shared information about an increase in the number of individuals in our community who tested positive for COVID-19 and announced a two-week Safer-at-Home period and enhanced testing for undergraduate students. This week, we’ve seen a reduction in positive cases but, with Mardi Gras around the corner and new variants of COVID-19 emerging, this is not a time to relax our vigilance. We want to see this decline in positive cases continue before reducing restrictions. We strongly encourage students to limit unnecessary interactions — apart from classes, dining and essential activities, students should limit themselves to their residence halls and off-campus residences.
As we shared last week, more contagious variants of COVID-19 are being identified around the world. In the past week, Tulane’s testing program has detected evidence of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) in our community as well, and one case has been confirmed by the CDC. Public health officials have detected the U.K. variant in most states and predict it will become the most common strain of COVID-19 in the United States in the next few weeks. It’s important to continue to adhere to all health protocols including masking, social distancing, testing, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine, which are the best ways to prevent the spread of any form of COVID-19.
As we enter the height of the Mardi Gras season, it is vital to recognize that this is a very different Mardi Gras and that we need to celebrate it in a very different way that does not include large gatherings. To promote safety throughout the carnival season, we’ve developed a list of options for self-guided activities and virtual events on the COVID-19/Stronger TUgether website. We need everyone to follow our public health protocols at this crucial moment. As always, students who do not follow the university’s stated health protocols, including testing and contact tracing requirements, are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and face possible sanctions, including suspension or expulsion. We hope to get through this period without having to resort to such disciplinary actions. We appreciate the support and commitment of the vast majority of students, as well as faculty and staff, who continue to follow all safety protocols.
We recognize that this is a challenging time for everyone, but with COVID-19 vaccines being distributed, there is light on the horizon. This both serves as a beacon of hope, but also as a reminder to double our efforts to protect the health of all.
Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer