Important: COVID-19 Rates, What You Need to Know and Do

September 5, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing with an important update and new guidance about COVID-19 in the Holy Cross community. This message is long, but it is important that you read through it all. Through our testing protocol and contact tracing, we have seen a significant surge in cases of COVID-19 since Thursday. Over the past few days, we have had 25 positive cases, all among students. All but one of these individuals is fully vaccinated, and most have mild flu-like symptoms. 

We have not seen evidence of cases being spread in classrooms, nor have other schools with whom we have communicated, and our priority will be to maintain in-person classes. In order to stay in our classrooms, and to protect the health and safety of our community members and their families, we must work together to control this surge. We know that measures we took last year were successful in controlling spread, and therefore we will be implementing several of them effective immediately. It is our hope that these will be temporary. If the rates of positive tests drop, then we will be able to remove some of these restrictions as conditions allow. I know that we can all work together to stop the spread, to keep one another safe and to stay together in our classrooms, labs, theaters and athletics facilities. 

Here’s how we are going to do this:

Surveillance Testing

Everyone — students, faculty and staff — regardless of vaccination status, must test on Monday or Tuesday this week and again later in the week. Everyone should have two tests over the course of the week. Testing will be drop-off testing. You can pick up your test kit in the lobby of Hogan 3rd floor, or in Human Resources.

We have added capacity to the testing center to accommodate the additional testing. Students will continue to drop off tests in Hogan 320 and faculty and staff will now drop off tests in Hogan 328.

When you arrive at the testing center, you can swipe your card, print a label, and hand your kit and the label to the attendant, and leave.

Let’s help those running the testing center manage this. To avoid flooding the testing center, please schedule your drop-off via HC Clear

Symptomatic Student Testing 

If you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms, go to the back lot of Loyola for testing through Health Services between the hours of 9 and 10 a.m., or 1 and 2 p.m. for open testing. If these times do not work for you, please call Health Services at 508-793-2276 to make an appointment. Do NOT go to open testing hours if you are not experiencing symptoms.

Symptomatic Employee Testing 

As always, employees experiencing symptoms should stay home and call their primary care physician.

New Protocols

Given that vaccinated individuals are becoming infected and spreading the virus, we are implementing the following protocols. 

Masking: Until further notice, masking indoors is required for all. While we had hoped to lift this requirement on September 10, we are unable to do so at this time. Masks should be worn indoors unless you are in personal spaces alone or with your roommate or unless you are eating or drinking. While you are in Kimball, Crossroads or other dining establishments on campus, you must remain masked unless you are actively eating or drinking. When you are eating and drinking indoors you should try to maintain physical distancing. 

Isolation: If you live within 250 miles, and can safely isolate yourself at home, you should. 

The surge is taxing our Isolation and Quarantine space. We will be canceling events at the Joyce Contemplative Center so that we may use that space for additional Isolation and Quarantine space while it is needed. We will be asking some employees to shift duties for this period to assist students who are in isolation or quarantine in this space.

Indoor Co-curricular Events: Large indoor events that cannot be physically distanced, moved to an outdoor venue, or held remotely will be canceled.

Kimball Hall Dining: Grab-n-Go option is available, and we will be implementing distancing measures in the main dining room. We encourage you to eat outside when possible and to take advantage of the tents and other outdoor spaces on campus for this purpose.

Residence Halls & Guests: We are limiting guests in residence halls to Holy Cross students only. No external visitors will be allowed. Guests in residence halls are limited to a maximum of 1 guest per resident in a room. For example, if you are in a 2-person room, your maximum number of guests is 2. Masking is required by all when guests are present.  

Social Gathering Limits: Contact tracing has shown that the majority of cases are linked to off-campus social events. Our data, and that from other schools, has not shown any spread of the virus in classrooms. We have not implemented limits on gatherings at this time, and we hope that we will not have to. It is critical that you remain vigilant and wear masks indoors or physically distance when you are not wearing masks outdoors.

We all want to stay together, to participate in classes and co-curricular activities in person. I know that these restrictions are not what any of us wants, but we know that they work and they are necessary if we want to get back to the campus experience that we all hope for. We need all of you to help us get there. It is important to:

  1. Test Monday or Tuesday and then again later in the week.

  2. Wear your mask indoors at all times. We urge you to maintain physical distance outdoors and consider wearing masks when physical distancing is not possible. 

  3. Eat outdoors or in physically distanced spaces as much as possible.

I know this news is frustrating. Thankfully, because so much of our community is vaccinated, the cases we have seen are mild, or completely asymptomatic. But we must take action to prevent further spread. There are many in our community who live with people who can’t be vaccinated, and who face a greater chance of serious complications from this virus. We must take this seriously. 

Luckily, we know we have protocols in place that work. Those protocols will require us to work together for the benefit of others. In my time here, I have already learned how much people in this community care about one another, and their impact on the world around them. Now is the time to demonstrate that care, as we work to keep this community safe, healthy and together. You have done this before, and I know that we can pull together to do it again.

Sincerely,

Vincent D. Rougeau
President