Yale Daily News

More than 2,500 attendees — including members of the class of 2027 and their guests — gathered on Cross Campus on Monday, Aug. 21, for this year’s opening ceremony. But one of the annual event’s usual speakers, University President Peter Salovey, joined virtually after testing positive for COVID-19.

The ceremony, which takes place each fall on the first Monday following first-year move-in day, featured both Salovey and Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis as speakers. At this year’s event, Salovey addressed the new class via video message in accordance with the University’s health guidelines after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result the previous day.

In his video message, Salovey encouraged the 1,647 students in the class of 2027, who he said have “come of age in a culture of haste” with little knowledge of a world predating the instant spread of information, to “slow down and fix things.”

Salovey had COVID-19 at the time of this address, and he wrote to the News that having COVID-19 reminded him of the need for continued caution with regard to the virus. 

“I have been testing negative for COVID for several days now, and I feel fortunate that my symptoms were quite mild,” Salovey wrote to the News. “My positive COVID test last week reminded me that we all need to be vigilant for symptoms, test, follow other steps to curb the spread of the virus, and ask questions and reach out for help when needed.”

Salovey added that students should be aware of the current COVID-19 guidelines, which were sent to the Yale community this week. Most recently, Chief Campus Health Officer Madeline Wilson, who directs campus communications related to COVID-19 and other public health issues, wrote to students in an email Wednesday encouraging them to test and report any positive results given the “steady rise” of COVID-19 locally and nationwide.

Wilson wrote in an email to the News that cases of COVID-19 have risen at Yale, and at other universities, as students returned to campuses and began gathering once again.

Wilson also added that campus health and safety leaders will continue to promote preventative measures, including masking and vaccination. She also wrote that they will continue to ask the Yale community to report positive test results so the University can provide guidance for close contacts.

“While cases are up, the increase starts from a low baseline and case rates and hospitalization rates are markedly lower than in August of 2022,” Wilson wrote in an email to the News. “So while we are vigilant, we feel we are well-equipped to manage the inevitable cases on campus this fall.”

Matthew Makomenaw, the dean of the Native American Cultural Center and Yale College health and safety leader, told the News that rapid antigen testing kits are now available at no cost for students and employees with a Yale ID at all residential colleges and at other designated locations.

Several students told the News that some test pick-up locations, including the Yale Bookstore and Pierson College, had run out of tests by Wednesday afternoon. Staff at the Yale Bookstore told the News that a new shipment of tests is expected to arrive today, Aug. 31.

“The big thing is for people to do what’s comfortable with them,” Makomenaw said. “[COVID-19] is still with us … we know the precautions, do what’s comfortable for you and certainly ask [questions] to make sure that [you’re] protecting [yourself] and others.”

Under the most recent health guidelines, faculty, staff and students who test positive are encouraged to stay home, report their positive result to the University and notify close contacts

Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.