January 13, 2022
I am writing with an important update about contingency planning for the spring semester.
Because of the surge in COVID-19 cases that we are seeing internationally, nationally, and locally, it is possible that positivity rates will rise after you return to campus, just as they have at some of our peer institutions. As a result, it may be necessary for some of you who are living on campus to isolate in place, rather than in isolation housing, if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result this semester.
Currently, students living on campus who test positive relocate to isolation housing and wait until they receive negative test results before they return to their originally assigned housing. Isolation housing has also been offered to off-campus undergraduates whenever space has permitted. For the past three semesters, demand has never exceeded capacity.
Demand could reach or exceed capacity in the weeks ahead, as it nearly did at the end of last semester, so isolation housing will be available only to on-campus students at the start of the semester, when demand is expected to be highest; it may become available later to off-campus students if space allows.
Additionally, and in order to manage capacity as isolation housing fills, it may be necessary for some of you who test positive not to relocate. Instead, if you live on campus in a single bedroom, you may be assigned to isolate in place, in your bedroom, whether standalone or within a suite. You will receive instructions to care for yourself and to reduce the risk of spreading infection to others.
If you live on campus and will be isolating in place, you will follow instructions similar to the ones that students in isolation housing follow:
- Remain in your room, leaving only for medical appointments or to pick up medical supplies, for brief periods outdoors in your courtyard, and to use the bathroom;
- Wear the provided, filtering face masks in the presence of anyone, including suitemates;
- Eat your meals in your room, where they will be delivered to you.
If you are isolating in place, you will be able to continue to use communal bathrooms; you will receive additional instructions about maintaining the already low risk of transmission in shared bathrooms.
Even in this contingency scenario, the expectation is that only students in single bedrooms, whether standalone or in a suite, will need to isolate in place, but that could change if an outbreak is too large; if students in double bedrooms need to isolate in place, roommates will be offered other temporary housing.
I understand that this contingency plan, whether or not it needs to be enacted, could influence your plans for the semester. I therefore want to make you aware of two changes that may help you as you consider your plans for the spring:
- The deadline for requesting a leave of absence for the spring semester has been extended to February 8. Remember also that leaves this year do not count against the limit of two semesters' leave. You can request a leave here.
- You may now also relinquish housing until February 8 without incurring the usual relinquishment fee, which is waived this semester if you choose to move off campus or take a leave. To relinquish housing, write to your residential college dean.
Finally, as I wrote on Tuesday, it is vitally important that you take steps to reduce the likelihood that you will test positive when you come to campus:
- Take a pre-arrival test and receive your test results before you come to campus, even if that means delaying your arrival or standing in a long line at home in order to get tested.
- Get your required booster and flu shots and upload the documentation, if you have not already.
- Make or update your move-in reservation. Now that the January 10 deadline to make an arrival appointment has passed, some dates are no longer available; public health conditions limit the number of students who can move in each day. Make your appointment now so that you are more likely to secure your first choice of move in date.
This contingency plan, if it is enacted, is designed to limit transmission in our community and support the in-person spring semester. But it is just one part of a broader effort to protect our community's health. Just as important will be the steps you take, before and after you come to campus, in preparing, staying informed, and following directives and guidelines. And although this plan prepares for the possibility of high COVID-19 infections, there is also reason to be hopeful: preliminary indications are that the Omicron wave may have peaked in our area a few days ago, giving us reason to be optimistic about our plans for the spring.
I am very grateful for your efforts, your cooperation, and your understanding in previous semesters, and in the one ahead.
Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology; Neuroscience; Cognitive Science