February 16, 2022
Dear Yale College students,
We are seeing an unprecedented number of undergraduates test positive for COVID-19. Just yesterday, as Monday’s test results came back, 94 students tested positive. This is a far higher number than we have ever seen, and we are bracing for the possibility of worse numbers ahead.
This positivity rate is putting more and more students through the challenges of isolation. Right now, there are 253 undergraduates in isolation, and the teams at Yale Health, Dining, Hospitality, YC&E, and Facilities, as well as the residential college staffs, are straining to take care of them.
In talking with COVID-19-positive students about their possible sources of exposure, and in tracking transmission among cases, our colleagues have identified that most of these cases are linked to participation in dense, unmasked gatherings and/or parties with food and drink, both on and off campus. Structured campus activities, including eating in the dining halls, account for only a very small number of these hundreds of cases; there are no known cases of classroom transmission.
And yet, even though the transmission is happening primarily at unofficial gatherings, COVID-19 rates this high are an obstacle to even carefully planned campus events. To move forward with the semester we have been anticipating—with performances, gatherings, competitions, field trips, college dances, open butteries and dining halls—we need your partnership.
Simple precautions, which you have managed so well up through January, can significantly reduce the spread and get Yale College back on track. Masking, de-densifying, avoiding crowds – these measures are very effective. Follow these steps, and help each other follow them, especially if you are hosting a gathering.
We know that managing COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for everyone, in so many different ways. We are proud of all you have accomplished so far this year and of how hard you have worked to stave off a campus outbreak. We see how deeply you care for each other and for the staff who support you. We are confident that, working together, you can contain this surge.
Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology; Neuroscience; Cognitive Science
Dean of Student Affairs
Senior Associate Dean in Yale College