Due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases among students in the building, Lanman-Wright Hall, one of the residence halls on Old Campus, is now under a building quarantine until campus closes to students on Nov. 21.
In an email sent at 9 p.m. on Nov. 16 to students living in Lanman-Wright Hall, known as L-Dub on campus, Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd informed students that due to a cluster of eight cases that “appear to be linked through social connections across Lanman-Wright,” the building is now under quarantine until students depart campus for Thanksgiving recess. L-Dub currently houses sophomores who received University permission to live on campus this semester.
“If you are not in isolation or contact quarantine, you will need to begin a ‘building quarantine’ that will last until November 21,” Boyd wrote to the L-Dub students.
The quarantine measure is being implemented to “limit the possibility of further spread,” according to the email. During the building quarantine, students need to remain in their suites and can only leave their suites to use the bathroom, to pick up meals, to attend twice-weekly COVID testing and to attend medical appointments.
Students are also permitted to be outside periodically for 15-minute intervals, as long as they wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines — but Boyd did not clarify the number or frequency of these 15-minute intervals. However, students living in L-Dub “should not go into the central space of Old campus, nor exit the gates, until [they] leave for break.”
Beginning on Nov. 17, students living in L-Dub will be able to pick up grab-and-go meals from a dining tent set up near the building, which will be staffed from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. for dinner. Breakfast items will be available for pickup at dinner on the night prior.
“The tent set up for food was more of a convenience for residents [of L-Dub],” Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun told the News. “We are trying to minimize them moving around campus for their own safety and for the safety of others. This allows them to pick up food locally. It is like what we did at the beginning of the term — when all students were mandated to quarantine — with the outdoor dining hall for the students living on Old Campus.”
Boyd informed students that while those who have tested positive in relation to the L-Dub cluster are now isolating in Bingham Hall — the main isolation housing for undergraduate students — other students who have been contract-traced from the cluster are now in contact quarantine. Students in contact quarantine were told to follow the instructions they have been given, which are “more restrictive” than the building-quarantine measures, according to the email.
According to Chun, the main difference between contact quarantine and building quarantine is that students under building quarantine can go home by Nov. 21, as long as they continue to test negative. On the other hand, Chun said, students in contact quarantine are being urged to stay on campus until they have completed their full two-week quarantine period, because they are at a higher risk of testing positive in subsequent tests.
Students in isolation housing in Bingham are not permitted to leave campus until they are released by Yale Health. If students in contact quarantine feel that they must leave campus, they are instructed to consult with their dean for further instruction.
In all cases, students are instructed not to leave campus unless they have received a negative COVID test within 72 hours of departure.
According to Boyd’s email, students living in L-Dub who are currently in isolation in Bingham should continue to follow instructions from Yale Health — and if their isolation ends before they leave for break, they will join the building quarantine with the students in L-Dub until the start of Thanksgiving break on Nov. 21.
“Some of you may be wondering about going elsewhere to quarantine,” Boyd wrote in her email. “The best public health advice is that you should not — traveling now would risk exposing other people, including anyone in any household you are joining. It is better to remain on campus, where you can be supported by the dining and testing programs.”
This is the second mass quarantine imposed on students this semester. The L-Dub building quarantine comes on the heels of the week-long quarantines of Saybrook, Grace Hopper and Davenport colleges. That three-college quarantine, which began on Nov. 6, was sparked by a cluster of coronavirus cases among students in those colleges. The cluster also caused the University to elevate its COVID alert level from yellow to orange.
The only other cluster of cases among undergraduates that the University has identified and communicated to students was the outbreak among members of the men’s ice hockey team in October. Following that outbreak, the University raised its COVID alert level from green to yellow.
“For everyone, not just the Ldub students, this is a time to be really careful,” Boyd wrote in an email to the News. “It’s always important to keep transmission rates as low as possible, but even more so when so many people are about to travel.”
Alice Litvak ’23 received permission to live in L-Dub this semester because her family is from Belarus, and with the current political instability in the country, she believed that it would not have been the ideal environment for remote learning.
Litvak said that the quarantine of L-Dub was “a necessary call.” However, she commented that the quarantine could have been implemented earlier, as she is currently on her eighth day of contact quarantine because she was contact-traced last week in relation to the cluster of positive cases.
“I would say the L-Dub atmosphere is pretty grim,” Litvak told the News. “It gets dark so early and I feel very confined to my room. I know people, in general, have been feeling very lonely because the outbreak was abrupt and happened while people were starting to leave for home. Many goodbyes were cut short. The atmosphere feels similar to when campus shut down last semester.”
Prior to the cluster of positive cases, Litvak commented that living in L-Dub felt very safe because Yale had a “very effective system in place.” However, she also wrote that an outbreak is not surprising given the spike in positive cases being experienced across the country.
As of Nov. 17, the University’s COVID-19 dashboard reflects 223 positive cases since Aug. 1, with an increase of 57 cases in the past week.
Julia Bialek | firstname.lastname@example.org