Trinity COVID Cases Rise to 12, Safety Protocols Implemented

4 min read

Jack P. Carroll ‘24

Managing Editor 

Trinity College reported a total of 12 active cases of COVID-19 via the dashboard on Sunday, Dec. 19. These cases–which include 11 students and one employee–were reported following test results from Thursday, Dec. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 19, according to an email from Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina and Chief of Staff Jason Rojas Sunday afternoon. The test results were from both self-reported rapid tests and the on-campus testing program. 

“All individuals are isolating away from campus. Throughout contact tracing protocol, we have identified that the student cases are connected to a small cluster of individuals in living areas and we do not have evidence that any transmission took place in classroom settings,” said DiChristina and Rojas. They also indicated that the College is monitoring information about the Omicron variant as “Reports are showing a significant increase in cases across the United States and globally.”

Rojas told the Tripod that some of the infected students reported their positive test results to the College from home as they had already departed from campus for the semester; these tests were not administered by the College. Those who were on campus developed symptoms and went to the Health Center to get tested. Other students were identified through surveillance testing: these students lived in both off-campus and on-campus housing and “generally were connected by virtue of being roommates.” Rojas did not indicate how many students tested positive from home and on campus respectively.

The College implemented a series of safety protocols following the rise in cases. Faculty now have the option to administer final exams remotely this week. In dining halls, more to-go containers will be prepared to reduce the number of people in Mather. Students and employees are encouraged not to attend social gatherings. Human Resources now supports employees contacting their supervisors inquiring about working remotely this week.

Despite the surge in cases, Trinity remains at a green alert level as of Tuesday morning. Responding to questions about the current alert level, Rojas told the Tripod that the College does not have a set threshold for cases when it comes to changing the alert level. Rojas went on to defend the College’s decision to remain at a green alert level: “most of the cases were for individuals who are not on campus (therefore not isolating), [sic] many students have left campus for the end of the semester, and there are very few events and activities happening.” “We do not have to make significant changes to campus operations to manage the number of cases in our campus community,” he added.

This week’s rise in cases is one of the highest since the start of the semester. In October, the Tripod reported that the College identified a total of 11 active cases among eight students and three employees. Seven of the eight students who tested positive contracted the virus from roommates and one student tested positive while visiting home. Rojas then told the Tripod that “We do not have plans at this time to update the dashboard more frequently.” However, Rojas told the Tripod in August that the College would “adjust the frequency of updates to the dashboard based on conditions on campus.”

Many colleges and universities nationwide are suspending in-person learning as they experience a surge in cases amidst the spread of the Omicron variant. Cornell University shut down its Ithaca, New York campus and moved to alert level red after 469 students tested positive earlier this month. Last week, New York University (NYU) shut down its campus ahead of winter break following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. 97 and 99 percent of the on-campus populations at Cornell and NYU are vaccinated respectively. Other institutions that have shut down this month include Princeton, Middlebury, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

The Tripod recently reported the College’s plans to strengthen its COVID-19 protocols for the spring. Trinity will require all students, faculty, and staff to obtain a booster shot within 30 days of becoming eligible. The booster shot mandate will go into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. The College will require masks indoors, COVID-19 for indoor visitors, weekly testing for unvaccinated students, and quarantine for individuals who test positive. The College will also reinstate capacity limits on certain indoor gatherings which is a shift from its decision to relax such restrictions in November. 

This article was updated on Thursday, Dec. 23rd to include comment from Rojas.

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