Jack P. Carroll ‘24
19 students tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Apr. 27, according to an email from Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina and Vice President of Finance Dan Hitchell Thursday morning. Trinity’s COVID-19 Dashboard now reports a total of 36 active cases which includes 33 students and three employees. There are currently 11 individuals in isolation.
“It appears that the majority of the student cases are among different friendship groups. We appreciate the students for requesting to be tested and we encourage anyone that is not feeling well to be tested,” said DiChristina and Hitchell in their email to students, faculty, and staff.
DiChristina told the Tripod via email on Wednesday, May 4 that the rise in cases involved students who live together in spaces on and off campus. DiChristina stated that the College does not have any plans to incentivize students to get tested, reintroduce mandatory testing, or make any changes to the current mask policy at this time. Responding to questions about whether the Dashboard accurately reflects the presence of COVID at Trinity now that testing is optional, DiChristina noted that “The Dashboard provides information so that individuals in our community know if the virus is present. It is no longer intended for the dashboard to represent a case by case count.”
The rise in cases suddenly occurred over the course of the past week. The Tripod previously reported that the Dashboard recorded a total of 9 active cases (seven students and two employees) for the week of Sunday, Apr. 22.
DiChristina and Hitchell also reminded the community of Trinity’s current mask policy which they announced in an email on Friday, Mar. 11. The policy, which went into effect on Mar. 14, requires students to wear masks in all classroom, lab, studio, and instructional spaces during scheduled classes. Masks also must be worn in all healthcare facilities, indoor athletic events and performance art events, events with external audiences, any campus space where signage indicates masking is necessary, and individual offices and group meetings when requested by the host or participants.
Students are still not required to participate in regular COVID testing. Trinity discontinued its PCR surveillance testing program earlier this month on Monday, Apr. 4. The College currently provides testing at the Memorial Field House for members of the community who become symptomatic and wish to receive a rapid test.
Trinity’s COVID policies and reporting practices were criticized at a faculty governance meeting earlier this month on Tuesday, Apr. 12. One faculty member in attendance noted that the Dashboard only reflects the total number of people who are symptomatic and self-report now that Trinity’s surveillance program has come to an end. The same faculty member also claimed that less students are wearing masks outside the classroom. Responding to these concerns, Chair of the Board of Trustees Lisa Bisaccia ‘78 stated that she is confident the College will act appropriately should there be an uptick in cases: “We have people who are reasonable, thoughtful, and follow the science,” said Bisaccia.
The total number of active cases has increased since the publication of this article. The Trinity College Dashboard reported a total of 82 active cases (80 students, two employees and affiliates) on Monday, May 2nd. The Dashboard reported a total of 132 active cases (128 students, four employees and affiliates) on Wednesday, May 4.
This article was updated on Wednesday, May 4 to include comment from DiChristina.