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COVID-19 Update: A Request for Those Traveling

March 12, 2021

My name is Sarah Cunningham, and I am the new Vice President of Student Development. I joined the community on February 15, 2021. I am writing today to express my gratitude for the efforts you have put in over the past few weeks to help keep the campus open during the pandemic. And more importantly, I write to ask for your partnership in continuing to keep our community safe as we move into the next half of the semester.    

In my short time on campus, I have seen firsthand the collective power you have had in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases among on-campus students and reducing the number of exposed students requiring on-campus quarantine housing. I have seen you actively participate in the I wear a mask campaign. I have heard you hold your peers accountable when you noticed they were not wearing their face masks. I have observed you wearing face masks and socializing at a safe social distance.  

March is my favorite month of the year for so many reasons, including the start of spring, my birthday month, St. Patrick’s Day, and March Madness. I am sure that, like me, you are thinking about how to participate in some of the upcoming events and celebrations. I have heard from some of you who are using long weekends to get some extra downtime, or others making their own spring break. Plus, Easter is just around the corner.   

As we head into these events, I am asking you to make informed public health decisions on behalf of our entire community. Please continue to wear your face mask, practice regular hand hygiene, and stay at least 6 feet away from one another.   

You may be considering traveling, which presents a whole list of things to reflect on before you make a decision. I would urge you to consider what it will mean to your household members and your fellow students if you travel. What are the implications of your decisions for those whom you serve if you volunteer in the community? What does it mean for those you spend time with socially?  

We have seen large increases this week in reports of mask non-compliance and social distancing non-compliance, which makes me worried that we are relaxing our efforts to keep each other safe. These significant upticks make me extremely fearful that the upcoming celebrations, traditions, and warmer weather will pose a significant threat to our community if we let our guard down.     

Now is the time to reaffirm our Campus Commitments, refresh our memories of our Mask Policy, support each other in making informed decisions, and find community in safe socially distanced ways. Here is a link to upcoming (in-person!) events on campus.   

If you do decide to travel, I strongly encourage you to be tested for COVID-19 within 5 to 7 days after your return, in order to reduce our campus COVID-19 transmissions and keep our community safe. There are currently plenty of available COVID-19 testing options in the community. You can find testing sites here.  

I have seen your collective power and I know together we can do this, so I am asking for your partnership in keeping our community safe through the upcoming weeks of the spring semester.    

Take care and be well.  

Dr. Sarah Cunningham