After the weeklong quarantines of students in Saybrook, Grace Hopper and Davenport colleges — following a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the colleges last week — came to an end on Thursday, new restrictions were announced for students living in all 14 residential colleges.
In a Nov. 13 email to undergraduate students, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced that all on-campus students are asked not to leave campus until they depart for Thanksgiving break.
Off-campus students, according to Chun’s email, may enter their colleges only for biweekly testing — otherwise, their campus access has not changed.
The restrictions aim to minimize these students’ interaction with the city of New Haven for the next eight days, or until they depart campus for the semester. Nov. 21 marks the end of the in-residence portion of the semester, and undergraduates will complete the remainder of the semester remotely.
According to Chun, although students may come before the Compact Review Committee for leaving campus in violation of this restriction, he hopes that students will abide by it “knowing that it is prompted by the surge in positive cases both nationally as well as here in New Haven, and thinking less in terms of compliance and enforcement than in public health, especially given that so many [students] have plans to travel.”
“Now, because so many of you are getting ready to leave campus, and because COVID-19 cases are rising across the country, including in New Haven, these eight days ahead call for additional precautions,” Chun wrote in the email to the community. “I am therefore putting in place a restriction until Saturday, November 21, that calls for all on-campus Yale College students to remain on campus.”
In asking students to minimize interactions with the New Haven community, Chun said that students should avoid restaurants, coffee shops, stores and other spaces that are not campus buildings. Furthermore, Chun urged students to avoid “walks or runs into the city or local green spaces,” to complete community service virtually and, to the extent possible, to stay within campus buildings and campus spaces.
Students are, however, permitted to purchase items for delivery, as long as the transaction is “socially distant and contactless.”
Students who are living off campus are asked to only enter their residential colleges for biweekly testing. Chun wrote that these students are “especially welcome and encouraged to use the outdoor spaces other than the college courtyards.” And while the restrictions for students living on campus do not apply to students living off campus, Chun encouraged off-campus students to consider adhering to the guidelines, especially if they plan to travel in the weeks ahead.
These restrictions come on the heels of the COVID-19 cluster that initially emerged among 20 undergraduate students living in Saybrook, Grace Hopper and Davenport colleges. The cluster prompted the University to change its COVID-19 alert status to orange on Nov. 6 and to implement weeklong quarantines for students in those colleges.
As of Nov. 13, 30 cases tied to the cluster have been identified and isolated, COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler wrote in a weekly email update on Friday. Their close contacts were identified and similarly quarantined.
“As of yesterday, thanks to the cooperation of the students in these colleges, the efforts of our health care providers, and the work of the contact tracing and outbreak investigation teams, we determined that this outbreak has been contained,” Spangler wrote in her email. “Students in Davenport, Hopper, and Saybrook who are not in isolation or contact quarantine, have now been released from suite-based quarantine.”
Students who are traveling home are “strongly encouraged” to receive a negative test result within three days of departing campus in order to reduce the risk of viral spread, according to Spangler. Students who are in isolation or contact quarantine when campus closes on Nov. 21 will need to delay their departure.
As of Nov. 13, Yale’s COVID-19 dashboard reflects 203 positive cases since Aug. 1, with 56 of these cases within the last seven days.
Julia Bialek | firstname.lastname@example.org
Update, Nov. 13 7:21 p.m.: This story has been updated with a comment from Chun on the enforcement of the restriction.
This is a developing story and will be updated.