Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and Families,
As the COVID-19 situation has unfolded, we have pledged to keep you fully apprised of its impact on the University community. We write to share an important update with you.
As you know, on Saturday we announced that a staff member had demonstrated symptoms that required testing for COVID-19. That test has now come back positive.
As a reminder, most people with COVID-19 infection develop mild to moderate illness without the need for medical care. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
The individual with COVID-19 has been in isolation at home since developing symptoms of the virus and getting the test taken. We wish this staff member a speedy and full recovery. We intend to honor the federal law that obligates us to protect this person’s privacy and as a result will not release their name.
The local Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified all close contacts of the individual with COVID-19. “Close contacts” has a specific health meaning in this context. Clark University’s Health Services, under the direction of the local DPH, has notified all close contacts and provided them with the necessary quarantine instructions. Please note that if you have not been notified by Health Services, no action is needed at this time. University Health Services has confirmed that none of the close contacts are students.
We know that this positive test may increase concern in this highly demanding time. That is understandable. Our COVID-19 Response Team and Emergency Response Cabinet have been deliberating extensively the potential implications of a positive test result in this instance or should another such instance emerge. The health and safety of our faculty, students, and staff remains our highest priority. We also know our community supports the essential societal goal at this time of increasing social distancing and protecting the health of the most vulnerable. In this light it is important for you to know:
- The University’s announcement of March 12 remains in effect, with all its related details, including that students should vacate campus residence halls as soon as possible and no later than March 22.
- Per our announcement to faculty and staff of Sunday, March 15, University offices should continue implementing flexible work plans that allow employees to work remotely or otherwise adjust work schedules in ways that diminish personal contact but don’t interfere with Clark’s critical obligations to students and others. HR has provided department heads with applicable University policies and will continue to provide related guidance.
- Students and all others on campus should continue to operate as follows:
- When possible, err on the side of interacting or conducting business with all others on campus through email, phone, or video conferencing. All formal meetings should be conducted in this manner.
- Arrange living and workspaces as needed to eliminate close contact if at all possible.
- Scrupulously follow CDC guidelines to protect themselves and others.
One of the most important insights from public health authorities, in the U.S. and around the world, is that how a community responds to emerging cases can have direct impact on the outbreak’s duration and severity. By looking out for ourselves and one another and heeding the public health expertise available to us, we can help to slow the spread of the virus.
If students, faculty, or staff seek counseling support, please know it is available to you. Information is available on the University’s COVID-19 website under the heading “Counseling Services.”
We know you will practice good self-care and look out for the well-being of others. Thank you for how you are handing this situation. It is a powerful reflection on why this community is so extraordinary.
Please continue to check the Clark COVID-19 website for updates and the new FAQs that we continue to add regularly. As ever, if you have questions that you find are not answered there please let us know by writing COVID-19-info@Clarku.edu.
We will continue to directly send you updates as new information warrants.
David P. Angel, President
Paul Wykes, Chair, COVID-19 Response Team