October 16, 2020
Dear Students, Parents and Colleagues,
As we approach the mid-term of the semester, I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude for your hard work and commitment to teaching, studying and supporting the education of our students, and also update you on our plans for the spring. I continue to be impressed by the resiliency and resolve of our entire community. While we are not physically together, learning and engagement has not waned, and our sense of community remains incredibly strong. We continue to move through this uncertain time together, and, as Dr. Fauci advised our students last week, we continue to move forward with hope.
As I said in my fall address a few weeks ago, our plan is to bring all students who wish to be on campus back in the spring. We will maintain strict health and safety guidelines and testing protocols in order to help protect our campus and local community. It is important that we find ways to be together, and all of us will play a role in ensuring that we are able to do so.
We are currently testing approximately 700 residential and off campus students twice a week and we have 530 employees in our testing protocol as well. Working with the Broad Institute and OneMedical, we will be scaling this up for the spring. The results of our testing are available on our COVID-19 Dashboard. We are also drawing on the plans we developed for the fall semester and the knowledge we have gained through our own experience and that of our peer institutions to allow our students to live, learn and build community together as safely as possible on campus in the spring.
I want to reiterate that only serious community and state public health concerns will prevent us from being together on campus this spring. To understand any such concerns, we are monitoring the following metrics and trends, and how they relate to each other. These metrics will be posted to our dashboard in the coming week:
The Effective Reproduction Rate (Rt) in Massachusetts. The Rt is the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person.
Certain information from the state’s public health dashboard.
The 7-day Weighted Average of Positive Molecular Test Rate in Massachusetts.
Number of hospitals in MA using surge capacity.
Similar information in the city of Worcester, including the test positivity rate, and the average daily incidence rate per 100,000.
Local hospital capacity.
State guidance. The Governor of Massachusetts has outlined a 4-phase reopening plan. We are currently in Phase III.
Next week, students will receive information about enrollment for spring courses, which will take place in mid November. The housing process will begin at that time as well. As the details of our plans are finalized over the next month and as we progress toward the start of the semester, we will update you via weekly email updates and our COVID-19 Response and Reopening website.
I offer my prayers for the health of all of you and your families and for continued success in managing the work of the fall semester. I look forward to being together again soon on Mount St. James.
Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.