While the new semester has not even begun, this past Saturday night, Holy Cross Public Safety officers responded to a large party at an off-campus apartment on College Street being rented by Holy Cross students. Not only did the number of people in attendance exceed the state limit on the number of people at a gathering, but attendees were not wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing guidelines. This behavior violates state and local guidelines as well as the Holy Cross Community Commitment, which students acknowledged and agreed to in July.
Needless to say, this is a profoundly disappointing situation. The students responsible for the party will be held accountable under our Community Standards process.
Earlier today, the College was notified of one confirmed positive COVID-19 case and several reported potential positive COVID-19 cases among students who were at Saturday’s gathering.
We each have a responsibility -- to our loved ones, our communities and to ourselves -- to do our part to stop the spread of this virus. Hosting and attending a gathering of this size, in close quarters, with no masks, is highly irresponsible and violates our most important Holy Cross values of commitment and service to others.
As you know, we prioritized the health and safety of our campus community first and made the difficult decision to conduct a fully remote fall semester. Our ability to return to campus depends in great part upon community members’ willingness to adhere to state, local and college health guidelines and requirements. Put simply: We will not be able to welcome back the entire campus community, or even a larger cohort than we have this fall, if students cannot demonstrate the self-discipline, mutual respect, and care for others by following requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Throughout the summer, we have made it clear in numerous communications that each of us has a responsibility to limit the spread of COVID-19, whether on-campus or off. In June, the College sent an email to all off-campus students, reminding them they are subject to COVID-19-related behavioral expectations, including state safety standards regarding indoor and outdoor gatherings, physical distancing and wearing masks. These guidelines are in place not only for the health and safety of the campus community, but also for that of our neighbors in Worcester.
We are working with the Worcester Division of Public Health to help identify people who may have attended the party as part of their contact tracing efforts. In the meantime, if you attended this party or believe you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, please follow the instructions below:
You should be tested as soon as possible. Please call your primary care provider, or visit your state’s COVID-19 website to find testing sites in your area. See here for Massachusetts sites. A close contact is typically defined as being within 6 feet, for greater than 15 minutes, without a mask, to a confirmed COVID-19 case. In a house party scenario, you may not know if you meet these qualifications, so we encourage anyone at the party to get tested and to quarantine.
You must also quarantine for 14 days from your last contact with the COVID-19 confirmed case. Even if you have a negative COVID-19 test, you are still instructed to quarantine for the full 14 days. Quarantine instructions from the state of Massachusetts are attached to this email.
If your test result is positive, you must isolate for 14 days and call Health Services to inform them of your test result: 508-793-2276.
You should check your symptoms daily. You can use the Massachusetts Buoy symptom checker, and report any symptoms to your primary care provider or to Health Services.
We are terribly disappointed by the events of the past weekend. The students who took part in this event should be equally disappointed. We can do better. We must do better.
Michele C. Murray, PhD
VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Director of Health Services
Associate Dean of Students