Dear Holy Cross Community,
We continue to believe that with careful planning and the cooperation of our entire community, we will have a successful semester back on the Hill. But as we prepare to welcome students back to campus starting tomorrow, we cannot ignore the reality of the pandemic that continues to surge in Worcester and across the U.S.
Classes are set to begin on Feb. 1. Our timeline has not changed. But given the current rate of infection locally and across the country, we want to highlight health and safety measures we will have in place during the student move-in period.
One aspect of our plans we are unveiling is a color-coded campus alert level system. Today, we want to explain how the system works, what it means for life on campus, and why we will be conducting our move-in process at the elevated alert level of orange.
Over the course of the semester, we will be monitoring a number of key metrics that will inform our understanding of how prevalent the virus is in our community. These include our quarantine and isolation capacity, the seven-day positivity rate of the college, city and state, our turnaround time on contact tracing, and dozens of other metrics. These indicators, many of which you can monitor on our COVID-19 dashboard, will help guide our alert level. The campus alert level will determine the policies, and any changes to operations, which we will need to implement to better protect the health and safety of our campus and surrounding community.
As we proceed through the semester, our COVID Core Team, which includes the College’s medical advisor who is an infectious disease specialist, will monitor these metrics, and will recommend to Fr. Boroughs and the Executive Team alterations to the alert level as appropriate. Our alert system will have four levels: green, yellow, orange and red. You can find more specific information about our campus alert levels on our website, but broadly they mean:
- Green: Normal operations. We will move to green only when Massachusetts enters Phase 4 of its reopening plan. This is likely not until most Massachusetts residents have been vaccinated.
- Yellow: COVID normal.
- Orange: Elevated concern.
- Red: Residence halls closed and fully remote operations.
Our Current Alert Level: Orange
Today we are announcing an orange alert level, effective 7 a.m. Monday, January 18.
We will monitor our metrics over the next two weeks and update the community as students move in and are tested for COVID. If those metrics are favorable, our hope is that we can shift to a less-restrictive yellow alert level for the start of the term.
Here’s what an orange alert level means during move-in:
- Residence Halls: No guests will be allowed in residential rooms.
- Gatherings: Gatherings are not permitted on campus. Exemptions for any college-sponsored gatherings require approval from the college’s Executive Team and will be granted on a limited basis. Off-campus gatherings must comply with Massachusetts residential gathering limits (currently 10 persons).
- Dining: There will be no eat-in dining anywhere on campus. All dining will be takeout or GrubHub only. Students should take food back to their rooms to eat. Please note that Dining will be putting this into effect today, Sunday, January 17.
- Access to campus for off-campus students will be allowed for January term classes, approved science research, work or work training, COVID testing and athletic training/competition only.
- Common Areas/Lounges: All common/study areas/lounges are closed.
- January Term: January term classes will continue as scheduled and in the modality in which they began.
- Spring Term: Our intent for the spring term is to conduct classes in the scheduled modality. We will be in communication with the campus community in the last week of January to confirm our starting plans. Our ability to do this will be dependent upon the results of move-in testing and community compliance with all safety protocols.
- Academic Buildings/Libraries: Our academic buildings and the libraries will have restricted access under an orange alert level. During the next two weeks, these facilities will be closed to students, EXCEPT for those who are enrolled in J-Term or conducting approved research on campus.
- First Year Orientation: We currently plan to hold some in-person components for our First Year Orientation program.
As we move forward, it will remain vital that everyone in our community follow campus, state and public health guidelines in order to limit the spread of COVID. On campus, our community must follow our universal mask policy. Off campus, all students are subject to the Massachusetts face covering order and gathering limits. We want to be together this semester, and we must work together and follow the guidelines in order to remain so. Avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks and keeping up with your testing and daily symptom checker will be vital to our success, no matter the alert level. Only through shared commitment and accountability will we succeed.
We look forward to seeing many of you on campus in the coming weeks, and to the start of a successful and meaningful spring semester.
COVID Core Team