Melina Korfonta ‘25
In an email to the community Tuesday evening, Chief of Staff Jason Rojas and Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina reported a total of 43 active COVID cases. This total–which includes 35 students and eight employees–has since risen to 49 with 40 students and nine employees having tested positive as of Thursday, Jan. 6.
Anticipating an increase in cases as students return to campus at the end of the month, Trinity has moved all spring courses online for the first week of the semester. These plans were originally announced in an email to faculty from Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sonia Cardenas. The student body was informed about the remote shift via an email from Rojas on Friday, Jan. 7.
“Like many of our peers we are currently close to 10% of students on campus testing positive, either through pre-arrival tests or from their first PCR test; and the positivity rate in Connecticut is over 20%,” said Cardenas in her email to faculty. “We could start the semester with an unprecedented number of students (and faculty) having to isolate, which would prove highly disruptive to learning.”
Rojas and DiChristina also introduced the new “Isolate In Place PILOT Plan” in their Jan. 4 email to the community. After testing positive, students will have three options for isolation dependent on the circumstances of their regular residential situation.
One option is for students to isolate at home. Under these circumstances, it is expected that travel occurs in private vehicles and not public transportation or rideshare vehicles.
The second option is for students to isolate in place in their own residence hall. If students sleep in a single-occupancy room or if all members of a one-room double/one-room triple/two-room quads test positive they are permitted to isolate in place. A group bathroom within the residential building will be designated the isolation bathroom. Residents of the building who are not isolated in place will be notified and directed to use one of the non-designated bathrooms within the building. Students who reside in apartments–both on and off campus–and sleep in a single occupancy room will also be given the option to isolate in that residence following the protocols described in the PILOT protocol guidelines–which have been supported as “reasonable plans” by public health and infectious disease experts at Hartford Healthcare.
Students who isolate in their residence halls will be expected not to enter other people’s rooms and they may not have any guests during their isolation period. These students may go outside of their residence hall with a mask on to get fresh air. They must stay within the vicinity of the residence hall except when going to pick up food from the dining hall. Students isolating in their dorms are also prohibited from making contact with anyone else outside, entering other buildings, and picking up packages. Two positive students are allowed to walk outside together.
The third and final option under the new isolation plan allows students to relocate to isolation housing so long as their roommates are not also positive.
Rojas and DiChristina indicated that the COVID-19 Steering Committee will evaluate the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine further changes to Trinity’s isolation protocols. The CDC now recommends reducing the isolation period for those who test positive for COVID from 10 days to five days.
Rojas did not respond to the Tripod’s request for comment.