On Thursday, October 15, Mr. Richard Davis, COVID coordinator, notified the community via email that three students had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that the campus would be immediately entering into quarantine.
The school discovered the positive tests while performing routine surveillance testing. Approximately ten percent of the school population is tested each week, so that the school can constantly monitor the presence of the virus on campus.
Immediately after the positive test results were received, the three students who tested positive went into quarantine in the Health Center. Faculty and staff contact tracers set to work speaking with the students who tested positive to assess their recent close contacts. Following guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control, people who have been within six feet of the infected person for over 15 minutes must quarantine themselves for 14 days following the date of contact. During this process of contact tracing, a fourth student tested positive. Mr. Davis confirmed that 35 students in all were identified as close contacts and assigned to 14 days of quarantine.
Following the positive tests, the school followed multiple procedures to ensure the safety of the community. All bathrooms and common surfaces in dorms were cleaned by the housekeeping staff, and co-curriculars, club meetings, and classes were transferred to Zoom. The school also re-adopted grab-and-go mealtime schedules. Aliya Nurmohamed ’22 said, “Because the school was so prepared, I was less afraid. Even though it was a difficult transition, our peers and teachers came together and did their best to help one another. We were all lifting each other [up].”
While the school was prepared to deal with cases of COVID-19 on campus, many students felt overwhelmed and scared by the news. Mazie Wright ’22 expected a larger outbreak of the virus. She said, “I was not surprised when they called [a] quarantine, as I was expecting [there] to be [one eventually]. It always seemed like a possibility.”
The school tested all students and faculty in contact with students the Sunday after the positive cases were announced using saliva-testing technology developed by Yale University. On Tuesday, October 20, all tests came back negative. As of Thursday, October 22, in-person classes and school life resumed with the precautions that were in place before the discovery of the positive cases.
The school will continue to enforce COVID-19 protocols such as mask wearing, grab-and-go meals, and maintaining distance in an effort to limit the virus from coming into the school community again. In addition, students and student facing faculty will be tested weekly.