January 25, 2021
To all students enrolled in residence,
I am so pleased to welcome you to campus for the Spring 2021 semester. As you know already, sophomores were studying remotely last semester but have been invited back to campus this term; they are trading places with first-year students, who for the most part are now themselves studying remotely. In keeping with Yale College requirements, sophomores enrolled in residence will be living on campus this semester, as will some first-years by special permission; juniors and seniors, who were invited to campus both semesters, can enroll in residence and live either on or off campus.
As you prepare for your arrival, I want to give you an overview of what to expect, both during the opening weeks of the semester and beyond. Some of what follows will be familiar if you were here last semester, but be alert for important revisions. Whatever your class year, please make sure you are familiar with all the following requirements, expectations, and resources, keeping in mind that circumstances could change and that you should therefore also watch for updates. You will receive regular messages from me and from other public health and community officials throughout the semester. Please read those messages, and make sure you act on them if necessary. Please also discuss this message with your parents and guardians; I am sending it to them as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this semester is different from the fall. Infection rates have risen sharply since last August in New Haven, just as they have across the country, and a variant of the COVID-19 virus that appears to be more contagious has been detected in Connecticut. Precautions to reduce the risk of viral spread are therefore more aggressive this semester than they were in the fall. More will be expected from everyone who has access to campus.
So, for example, this semester's arrival quarantine will be longer, with more phases, than the one in the fall. If you will be living on campus, you will be limited to your residential college or other campus housing until February 15, then limited to campus until at least March 1. If you will be living off campus, that same timeline will limit your access to campus, making February 15 the first day you will be able to enter campus buildings and March 1 the earliest you will have access to the campus residential spaces. These timelines, which bring Yale College into compliance with state directives, exceed the general recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because campus is densely populated, even with this year's reduced on-campus housing. The extended quarantine will help to minimize and stabilize the rate of transmission among the campus population, which is coming together from around the world, and to give twice-weekly viral testing a chance to provide the most accurate data. Another change is the new requirement that you register on-campus gatherings in advance, as described below.
Personal accountability was vitally important last semester in reducing the risk of viral spread, and it will be even more so this semester. It starts with habits and routines that will be expected of everyone: performing daily health checks, adhering to twice-weekly testing, maintaining social distancing, wearing face coverings, and staying up to date on Yale’s public health guidelines. Accountability involves following quarantine and isolation instructions faithfully, and being forthcoming if you hear from contact tracers. It also means speaking up if you see behavior that endangers the community. Often, you will have the most impact if you talk directly with the people involved, focusing on support, shared goals, and problem-solving. You can also use this form to share your concerns with the Office of Student Affairs, or turn to your Public Health Coordinator (PHC) or college leadership. If you are witnessing an unsafe gathering on campus, you can call your PHC for an in-the-moment response; you can read more about the PHCs below.
Accountability also means understanding that you may get feedback if your own conduct puts the community at risk. You may be asked to speak with a Public Health Coordinator for education and guidance, or with other campus leaders. If you engage in repeated or significant violations of the public health guidelines, you will be referred to the Compact Review Committee, which can limit or revoke your access to campus, as it did last semester for about twenty students. In the vast majority of cases, though, feedback will be educational.
Within this general framework of community precautions and personal accountability, there are specific expectations and resources of which you should be aware. Some are extensions from last semester, and others are new. Additional details and policies will likely emerge throughout the semester, but the information below will give you a good start.
The Community Compact
The community compact is an essential component to keeping the community safe. You are expected to understand and fulfill the commitments you make when you sign it, so read it carefully. If you ever have questions about those commitments, check Yale College's FAQs and the university’s COVID-19 site for the most up-to-date policies, consult your residential college PHC, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are enrolled in residence, living on campus or off, you will need to schedule testing upon your arrival, as I wrote on January 14. Starting February 1, your assigned twice-weekly testing schedule will begin. You can find the instructions for making your appointments on Yale’s COVID-19 website.
Please note that your assigned testing days (M/T or Tu/F) may have changed from the fall, so please log into Yale Hub to check your assignment or, if necessary, to request a change.
Daily Health Checks
Your daily routine will start every day with a health check, required of all students enrolled in residence, living on campus or off. You complete the health check by logging onto dailyhealthcheck.yale.edu and following the instructions.
Quarantines & Isolation
You are already aware of the arrival quarantine that I announced earlier this month. You can now find more details about it on Yale College’s FAQ page, including information about deliveries, meals, and visitors. But keep in mind that other types of quarantine may go into effect this semester, in some cases for individuals and in others for communities, or even the entire community. If a contact tracer calls to tell you that you might have been exposed to someone who is infected, you will need to observe a contact quarantine, a period during which you will remain in your suite or off-campus residence, limiting your interaction with the community. Similar to contact quarantine is isolation: if you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a call from the Yale Health team, who will give you instructions for isolating to protect others. If you live on campus, you will need to move into separate isolation housing; if you live off campus, you may choose to do so to have fuller support. (You can learn more details about contact quarantine and isolation on the university's COVID-19 page.) Broader quarantines are possible, too. Last semester, for example, clusters of positive test results prompted temporary quarantines for groups of students and for individual residential colleges. If public health circumstances require it, a quarantine could apply to the entire campus, as it did at the end of last semester and as it will when you first arrive.
For the entire semester, you are expected to stay within the state of Connecticut. If an emergency or urgent need arises, use this form to request permission to travel.
Registering On-Campus Events and Gatherings
As with last semester, no events or gatherings may exceed ten people, indoor or out, even with social distancing and face coverings. New this semester, though, is a requirement to register all indoor on-campus events or gatherings with over seven people. Keep in mind that the location must be large enough to enable everyone to maintain six feet of distance from one another; if the location is smaller, so will be the maximum capacity. It's important that you register your event or gathering and provide a phone number that will be monitored so that you can receive alerts from the Public Health Coordinators if necessary. Unregistered events will be closed immediately. Due to the first two phases of the arrival quarantine, during which on-campus students may not have visitors in their suites and off-campus students may not access campus buildings, February 15 will be the earliest date possible to register an event or gathering. You will receive more information and a link to the registration form closer to that date.
Public Health Coordinators
The Public Health Coordinators are graduate and professional school students living in the colleges to help everyone in the community work together to protect the public health. If you have questions about what’s expected of you, you can get in touch with the PHC assigned to your residential college. They may also write to you, if you need some coaching in keeping the commitments you made in the compact. The PHCs also act as liaisons for emergency response within the colleges. You can read more about the PHC program and learn about your college's PHC on the PHC webpage. Feel free to email your college’s PHC with questions or ideas. If you have an urgent safety concern, you can call 203-737-1414 to reach the on-call PHC at any time.
The PHEPs -- Public Health Education for Peers -- are fellow undergraduates who are working to promote harm-reductive behaviors and educate around public health guidelines. They help students find creative socializing options, answer questions, and generally support their peers as they navigate challenges caused by the pandemic. The PHEPs represent every residential college, come from a variety of backgrounds, and are involved in campus activities including dance, music groups, athletics, and debate. They are excited and motivated to help, so keep them in mind as you plan your semester. You can read more about them on YaleConnect. They hold regular “phep talks,” or office hours; you can find out more on YaleConnect.
I am very pleased that you will soon be on or near campus, and I am looking forward to starting the semester with you. I send you my best wishes for these final few days of recess and for the start of the spring term.
Dean of Student Affairs
Senior Associate Dean in Yale College
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