A thoughtful multi-step plan with weekly asymptomatic testing and a new travel policy for students are key components to minimize the presence of the coronavirus on campus.
Hampshire College is pleased to report a successful reopening for the spring semester. A carefully planned phased approach enabled us to safely begin in-person instruction this week.
After initial asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, which started on January 19 for all on-campus and commuter students and staff and faculty who work in close contact with others, we have had just one positive result. That individual was isolated and contact tracing was performed. As of February 5, there are no known active cases at the College.
Regular weekly testing for this group will take place every Tuesday at the Robert Crown Center gymnasium through the semester. Each week, once the results are available, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing data will be posted on the testing program webpage.
Having received a COVID-19 vaccination does not exempt campus members from the testing program. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will have a 90-day exemption from testing because residual viral genetic material can cause a positive result even if a person is not symptomatic or contagious. Individuals who have been vaccinated or are temporarily exempt must still perform routine symptom checking and practice all prevention measures.
All community members have been reminded that although the test results are encouraging, we cannot relax our precautions. As we begin to engage in more in-person activities, everyone on campus must wear a face covering when in public, always maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, regularly wash and sanitize hands, limit off-campus travel to essential needs, and follow the Community Care Agreement, which all students and employees have signed.
We ask that students minimize travel to keep themselves and others safe, but we support their ability to maintain off-campus employment, shop for necessities not available on campus, access health-related referrals, tend to urgent family matters, and address other needs that may arise. While off campus, students must maintain the same safety precautions expected on campus.
Hampshire will continue to take significant steps to minimize the presence of the coronavirus on campus. To maintain that level of safety, the College is limiting travel by students living on campus to within Hampshire County. Students anticipating leaving the county should complete a Campus Travel Form, which alerts staff in several support offices in order to facilitate a seamless transition back to campus life.
If a residential student leaves the county for any reason, that individual is welcome to return to campus, but must adhere to expectations outlined in the College’s reopening plan, beginning with phase one. Students who have returned to phase one may participate in campus testing every Tuesday at the Robert Crown Center, but may also want to take advantage of the UMass Community COVID-19 testing site in order to move through the phases more quickly. There must be at least five days between the first and second tests.
Students whose academic program requires them regularly to leave Hampshire County (internships and fieldwork, for example) should contact the dean of students to discuss special arrangements. Students who leave Hampshire County for medical or mental-health care and return immediately do not need to complete the travel form. They are exempt from the policy regarding the reopening plan, but should contact Health and Counseling Services to discuss the possible need for increased testing upon their return to campus.