Students in three colleges to quarantine, University moves to orange alert level amid 20-person COVID cluster
Students living in Saybrook, Davenport and Grace Hopper residential colleges have been asked to quarantine in their suites until Thursday morning in response to a 20-person cluster of COVID-19 cases connected to the three colleges.
The rise in cases triggered a switch from a yellow to orange COVID-19 alert level, bringing additional restrictions to campus included targeted quarantines, additional travel restrictions and increased remote instruction. Yale originally reverted to yellow on Oct. 15 — after just two weeks at green — in response to an outbreak of 18 cases on the men’s hockey team.
The cluster appears as cases are steadily rising at the University, in New Haven and in Connecticut as a whole. Yale recorded a record 21 cases on Oct. 28 — just 13 days after the men’s hockey outbreak first emerged. Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday moved the Elm City to a red alert status and asked all Connecticut residents to limit non-essential trips during the hours 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
In a 4:58 p.m. email to students in the affected residential colleges, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun outlined a set of precautions being implemented as a means of limiting further viral spread, including asking students living in Saybrook, Davenport and Grace Hopper colleges to quarantine in their suites.
The announced cluster of cases has emerged just over two weeks before students enrolled on campus this semester are expected to return home for November break.
“Of particular concern are students who may not previously have been identified as close contacts, and who have therefore not been in quarantine,” Chun wrote in the email to students in the three colleges. “The students in your colleges who have tested positive are in separate isolation housing.”
Until the quarantine is lifted, students are not permitted to exit their college gates or have guests in their suites, even from within their college. Students in quarantine will only be permitted to leave their rooms to be tested twice a week, use the bathroom, pick up meals from the dining halls or attend medical appointments. Students are also permitted to leave their suites to pick up take-out meals delivered to their college gates and may spend time outside in 15-minute intervals while adhering to public health standards.
Sophomores and juniors living on Old Campus are free to continue moving around campus, although Chun discouraged students from leaving campus. Chun also discouraged those students from eating in restaurants, as well as having visitors in their suite or off-campus housing.
Students living off campus may only enter their residential college if necessary for their routine viral testing.
“While our contact tracing and outbreak investigation teams work to learn more about these cases and to identify any additional contacts, we have raised our COVID-19 alert status from yellow to orange and have put additional precautions in place to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 on our campus,” COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler wrote in a campus-wide email update Friday evening.
According to the Yale COVID dashboard, the orange alert status means that there is a “moderate risk” level and that “incidence has increased above baseline modeling and/or indicators show rates of infection may be increasing.”
In the orange alert level, frequency of testing may be increased for some populations, and additional measures may be taken on all or parts of campus, including targeted quarantines, moving classes to online-only meetings, prohibition of gatherings and restriction of those living off campus from accessing campus.
Spangler also emphasized that students living on and off campus should refrain from dining in restaurants, suggesting delivery as an alternative.
Furthermore, varsity athletics will be once again reverted to Phase 0 through Nov. 8, when restrictions will be re-evaluated. Intramurals are also paused.
“I realize that news of positive cases may cause anxiety, especially as we watch the local and national trends,” Spangler wrote in her update. “However, please keep in mind that Yale has a robust contact tracing process, and that those who have been identified as close contacts of an infected individual will be notified and provided with advice and care. The Campus COVID Resource Line is an excellent resource for anyone who has questions or concerns.”
This announcement comes on the same day as an email update from Spangler and University Provost Scott Strobel regarding Lamont’s “red” designation for New Haven per the state’s COVID-19 surveillance system. “Red” status is applied to those towns where case numbers exceed a two-week daily average of 15 cases per 100,000 people.
That announcement strongly discouraged members of the Yale community from dining in person at local restaurants or attending gatherings where food and beverages are served. It also recommended that faculty members and staff work remotely to the extent possible and prohibited gatherings larger than 10 people in private residences for the entire Yale community.