COVID-19 Update, August 21, 2020

Dear Davis & Elkins College community,

The Fall 2020 semester did not begin in the classroom as we had hoped due to pending COVID-19 test results, but adaptation to this situation and the switch to an online course delivery platform for the first week of classes has helped reduce potential spread of the virus on campus. From a health perspective, things are going well at Davis & Elkins College and we are trending below anticipated numbers. However, while many on campus are following the rules associated with helping to flatten the curve of this pandemic, some are not. As students and parents read this update, especially with students back on campus, we remind you that we must all do our parts to help eliminate this virus. Ultimately, campus health and wellness is a shared responsibility.

COVID-19 testing: D&E numbers are encouraging

As you know, COVID-19 testing was required for students during their phased return to campus. A total of 171 student tests were conducted on August 11, which resulted in two (2) individuals testing positive. Those individuals were immediately isolated and quarantined, per policies adopted by the D&E Board of Trustees over the summer in the Davis & Elkins College Guide for Returning to Campus. Testing was conducted again on August 14 and 17 for 632 individuals, including 493 students. Of the 632 tests administered, four (4) students tested positive. The same protocols were followed as with previous positive cases. The overall incidence of positive COVID-19 tests for students on the D&E campus is 0.9%. In recent weeks, 299 tests have been administered to employees of D&E with one (1) positive test result reported, an incidence rate of 0.3%. D&E COVID-19 policies provide for testing to take place as necessary for individuals who are symptomatic and/or those who have been contact traced to positive cases, with complete procedures outlined in the Returning to Campus document.

Course delivery plan starts August 24

While all classes were changed to an online delivery platform this week, all classes will begin in their intended delivery formats beginning Monday, August 24. Classes will proceed in various formats — in-person, entirely online, or in hybrid formats, a combination of in-person and online. Students are urged to make sure they know the formats of their classes ahead of time.

Students who ignore COVID-19 guidelines endanger everyone

Special protocols have been put in place regarding behaviors related to the COVID-19 global pandemic and steps we can take on the D&E campus to help prevent the spread of the virus. While most students on campus have adhered to these new guidelines, some have not. Those who do not take these necessary steps endanger the health and wellbeing of our campus.

You can help our College continue to have on-campus instruction by making good choices and adhering to safety protocols. House/suite parties, going to bars, and gathering in large groups will very likely increase the community spread of COVID-19 and decrease the likelihood that we are back to normal anytime soon. These negative behaviors that could harm our community cannot be tolerated. Violations of the Davis & Elkins College Code of Conduct will be processed in accordance with the discipline policy (sanctions range from/include fines, residence hall suspension, and expulsion).

D&E campus nurse urges students to heed COVID-19 protocols

Diana Burke-Ross, R.N., D&E Campus Nurse, has communicated directly with students urging adherence to the College’s COVID-19 guidelines. “If we make a campus-wide promise to follow the advice of health care professionals, accept that wearing a face covering is essential, adhere to social distancing and commit to NO large group activities… we can beat the odds and enjoy a full semester of an in-person academic experience,” she wrote to students. You can read the full letter by clicking on the attachment with this student update.

Double-check your student health checklist

Even though students are back on campus, you should continue to monitor your student health checklist of items to make sure you are healthy and safe. As we enforce special measures on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, part of our responsibility is to instill responsibilities in you. All students are asked to make sure they have adequate supplies of their own Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and over the counter (OTC) medication supplies. Those items include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • thermometer (digital)

  • masks (medical grade if of high risk to infection due to comorbidity)

  • disinfectant wipes

  • hand sanitizer – large bottle for residence hall room and pocket size for carrying around campus

  • cold and allergy medications of choice

  • pain/fever reliever (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)

By maintaining this checklist, you can decrease or even eliminate routine visits to Student Health. For a comprehensive list of these supplies, please visit this link.

Check this weekly student update, the D&E Mobile App, and your email regularly for updates. The Emergency Notification System (nixle) will also be used as appropriate.

Please practice social distancing and stay well.

Dr. Rosemary Thomas

Vice President for Enrollment Management
Institutional Advancement