August 17, 2020

Dear Amherst Students, Staff, and Faculty,

 I’m writing to let you know that we have recorded the first confirmed Amherst College community case of COVID-19 this semester. We received the news of the positive test result this morning for a student who arrived yesterday. The student had been in quarantine since their arrival, is now in isolation and currently feeling well, and will remain in isolation, with appropriate care and contact, until they complete the isolation period, as per CDC guidelines. We are making use of our trained contact tracers who have notified anyone who had close contact with this student. We all wish this individual a speedy and complete recovery. Out of respect for the student’s privacy, we will not release any more information about this individual, and we will inform you if there are any further developments in this case that might impact the campus. Our pre-arrival testing identified three positive cases before those three students left to come to campus; they are staying at home until they clear the protocol. The remainder of the tests have come back negative with reports of a few indeterminate samples.

Of course, we may learn of other positive cases within our community over time. To keep everyone informed, we have established a COVID-19 Dashboard that tracks daily and weekly testing results – the total number of tests undertaken, along with positive, negative, and indeterminate results. Feel free to check it any time; it will be updated each morning. From this point on, we will not send an email for positive results, but ask that you consult the dashboard.

The College has taken and will continue to take extensive precautions including testing and tracing, cleaning and disinfecting, distancing, and wearing protective gear; the news of even one positive case reinforces the need for all of us to follow the College’s processes and protocols, as well as CDC directives and Massachusetts guidance.

For those students on campus, please be mindful of your health and, if you don’t feel well, please make contact with:

  • Keefe Health Center (413) 542-2267: The service includes on-call health professionals if you call outside of normal business hours.
  • Counseling Center (413-542-2354 or counsctr@amherst.edu): Access to mental health support. Students who subscribe to the Amherst College Health Insurance Plan can access tele-mental health resources through Well Connection. All students have access to SilverCloud, an online mental health platform that offers programs to build resilience, help you manage anxiety or depression, and develop skills to manage stress and sleep issues. To sign up, visit gsh.silvercloudhealth.com/ signup/ and choose Amherst College from the dropdown list.
  • Class deans: They continue to be available to all students.

All faculty and staff, as well as students not living on campus, who develop symptoms should call their own healthcare providers directly. Employees who need additional support during this time should access New Directions, the College’s resource for life services support.

If you have questions about COVID-19 and Amherst College, please refer to the College’s COVID-19 webpage for answers to frequently asked questions and the latest announcements. You can also reach out via email: covid19-info@amherst.edu.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.

Sincerely,

John Carter
Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety