The following message was sent by the University’s COVID-19 Task Force to the campus community on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020:
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
Since the beginning of October, COVID-19 has been surging across the country and locally. DuPage County has seen 10 days of increases in positive cases, placing the County at a positivity rate of 8.4% as of today. And over the past week, Elmhurst University has seen a significant increase in the number of students who have tested positive, are presumptive positive, or have been exposed to the virus.
From Monday, October 12 to Monday, October 19, 39 reports have been filed. Eight individuals tested positive (on and off campus), six are presumptive positive, and 34 have been exposed to someone who has the virus. At the moment, we have 27 students quarantining* on campus and/or at a local hotel, and 18 students are quarantining at their homes. Additionally, two students are in isolation** on campus, and five students are in isolation at their home or off-campus apartment/house.
On the University’s COVID-19 website, we maintain an alert status regarding the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus. As a result of the DuPage County positivity rate and the increased number of students in quarantine and isolation, we have moved the University to the Orange Alert Level in Factor 1 (regional infection rates) and Factor 2 (percent of quarantine space filled) on the chart. We remain at Yellow for the other factors.
The COVID-19 Task Force is very concerned with the increased numbers we are seeing across campus, and we know that you share in our concern for a safe campus. We are especially troubled with the reported and documented social gatherings on and off campus, as well as documented instances of students traveling in groups out of state. It should be noted that individuals hosting and/or attending parties or social gatherings on or off campus will be charged under the Code of Conduct/Housing and Residence Life policies (COVID-19 Policies). Hosts of parties on campus will be removed from housing after participating in the student conduct process.
We are also concerned that individuals are not taking their quarantine and/or isolation periods seriously enough. If you are placed in quarantine or isolation, you are to remain in the assigned space until your quarantine or isolation is complete. You may not leave the room for any reason, and you may not have visitors. Attempting to acquire a negative test will not change the length of quarantine or isolation. We have had at least one case where an individual was in quarantine for exposure and developed symptoms six days into the quarantine period.
Should these trends continue, we will be forced to make recommendations to the President and his Cabinet to consider further precautionary measures. We are doing our best to avoid actions like moving to remote learning for all classes, canceling athletic team activities for the remainder of the Fall Term, closing on-campus housing, and/or having only virtual co-curricular activities.
We implore everyone on campus to take the virus seriously and to follow health and safety guidelines. Wear your face mask in all buildings on campus, maintain a physical distance of a minimum of six feet from others, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer often. Now is not the time to drop our guard. We all need to work together to reverse the surge on campus and in our local community.
Please stay healthy!
— The COVID-19 Task Force
Quarantine and isolation are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.
*Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.
**Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.