October 9, 2020
Dear On-Campus Students, Faculty and Staff,
I am writing to inform you that we have decided to move from Level 1: “Normal COVID Operations,” to Level 2: “Heightened Awareness” on the Campus Operating Status scale.
Why Are We Elevating Our Alert Level Now?
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health moved the Town of Amherst from yellow status (“moderate risk”) to red status (“higher risk”) in its weekly COVID-19 Health Report. This change occurred because the town's average daily case rate has risen over the threshold of eight cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks. As we have seen over the past few weeks—and as many experts predicted—transmission is rising again across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and, now, in Amherst.
What Does Level 2 Status Mean?
Level 2 status primarily calls for increased vigilance on behalf of our community members.
For students, please refamiliarize yourselves with the College’s health and safety protocols and continue to follow these requirements at all times. In addition, it is more important than ever that you adhere to the requirement to remain on campus.
For staff and faculty, we urge you to continue to adhere to the protocols of working on campus. We strongly recommend that you stay at home as much as possible when not on campus. If you must travel outside of your home, please exercise every available safety precaution.
Your commitments to following safety protocols have kept the College’s positivity rate low to date. We currently have one active case and five total positives out of over 30,000 tests since July. However, with an increase in the prevalence of the virus in our local area, we now have first-hand evidence of just how quickly things can change. We are asking for everyone to redouble their efforts. We know that you are hearing these messages frequently, but keeping them top of mind, always, is one of the best defenses within our control in minimizing the spread of the virus.
A Reminder About Testing
We appreciate your compliance with our high-frequency testing program. However, please note that while testing is an extremely important part of our safety protocols, testing only identifies the virus once it becomes present in our community. Instead, diligent adherence to other safety measures—face coverings, physical distancing and personal hygiene, among others—is the best protection from contracting the virus.
Thank you for your continued commitment to do your part to keep yourself and your fellow Amherst College community members as safe as can be.
Chief Financial & Administrative Officer