November 6, 2020
Dear Parents and Families,
I wanted to alert you below to the message that went out this evening to all students, faculty, and staff at Washington University. The safety of everyone in our community – including our students – remains our highest priority. As we have been doing since March, we are continuing to evaluate our plans in light of evolving conditions.
Robert M. Wild
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
November 6, 2020
Dear Danforth Campus community,
Since spring, we have been focused on keeping our community safe and healthy as we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had to make some difficult decisions, and we remain incredibly thankful to and proud of all of you for your hard work and sacrifices. We are now heading into what could be a pivotal time period, and perhaps now more than ever, we must remain nimble and be prepared to shift our strategy.
Conditions in the St. Louis region, and indeed nationally and globally, are highly concerning, including a sharp uptick in the prevalence of reported cases and the COVID-19 positivity rate in the St. Louis metro area. This means the odds of being exposed off campus to someone with COVID have greatly increased in the last week. In addition, we are experiencing a notable increase in the number of positive cases within our university community. We must now give serious thought to the weeks and months ahead, and be prepared to adjust our plans. We are revisiting our previously published guidance on Thanksgiving and the remainder of the semester. We do not know yet whether anything will need to change, but we will continue to monitor regional trends closely, and we hope to make a final decision by Thursday of next week.
Starting today, we will increase the frequency with which we update our COVID-19 dashboard to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to provide timely information about rapidly changing conditions. In addition, we ask that you be more diligent than ever about the following:
- Pay particularly close attention to our public health guidelines. Wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, practice personal hygiene, and complete your daily self-screening every day you are on or come to campus. Self-screenings are a critical part of our public health strategy and it is extremely important that everyone is paying close attention to any possible symptoms of COVID-19.
- Scale back your activities outside of your home. Avoid eating inside restaurants, attending gatherings, or visiting any indoor spaces with crowds of people.
- Undergraduate students, schedule and complete your surveillance testing every two weeks. A negative result does not mean you can relax your adherence to the principles above. Doing so puts you and our community at higher risk for transmission.
- If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have related questions about your health, Danforth Campus students (undergraduate and graduate) should contact Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-6666 or the COVID Call Center at 314-362-5056. Faculty and staff should contact the COVID Call Center at 314-362-5056. Staff at these centers are there to help you and help us contain transmission in our community.
- We strongly encourage all individuals who are symptomatic, even mildly, to call the COVID Call Center or Habif to get tested with the university’s diagnostic test, which is highly accurate with quick processing and results. Recent reports have reinforced that the antigen testing that is widely available at urgent cares and pharmacies can result in unacceptably high rates of both false positive and false negative results.
Please know how extraordinarily proud we are of all of you for your hard work and your willingness to make sacrifices for the common good. Because of your efforts – particularly your diligence in adhering to our public health principles – we have had as successful a fall semester as possible. We are deeply grateful.
Andrew D. Martin