Dear Sweet Briar Women,
Once again, let me welcome you back to campus! I know that like me, your sights are set on staying well and safe and on completing the academic year in person without interruption. In order to ensure this, in a time of rising infection rates across the nation, the community’s Coronavirus Task Force decided to implement COVID testing policies, which I share with you now.
First, as you know, you were required to provide the result of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than five days before your return to campus. Anyone who tested positive would need to remain at home until they were symptom free. Thanks to this pre-arrival testing, our entire on-campus student body is completely negative for the virus.
Second, we will be conducting surveillance testing of all students. The frequency of this testing depends on whether or not you are a member of one of our athletic teams. There are approximately 130 athletes who will be tested for every away contest. For some sports, this is the entire roster almost every week in February and March. In addition, three high-contact sports teams (soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey) will receive additional testing of 25% of their respective rosters every week. These testing procedures are in compliance with NCAA and ODAC policies, and allow the safe resumption of athletic competitions, which you have all been eagerly anticipating.
When we “subtract” our student athletes from the rest of the student population, we have around 245 students. The current plan is to test those of you in this group using a 10% random sample every two weeks. Depending on the rate of infection and other issues, we may have to institute additional testing.
As you read this, I know you are thinking, “Okay, I’m happy to be a responsible community member and keep getting tested … but what about the faculty and staff? Aren’t they going to be tested, too?” In fact, the Coronavirus Task Force is meeting this week to discuss employee testing and it is likely that we will institute such a policy shortly.
Testing will ensure that our community stays safe. In the meantime, our COVID protocols remain unchanged from last semester. I don’t need to go over them with you – not only because Dean Garrett emailed you a reminder about them – I know you have internalized them. Your cooperation, vigilance, and leadership made our fall semester a tremendous success. I am so grateful to each of you and I am confident, with your help, we’ll pull through this spring and have another great semester. After all, we are Sweet Briar women. There is nothing we can’t do!