For the second time during the Fall 2020 semester, Fairfield University has forced all students living at the beach to isolate, and prohibited them from entering campus due to a spike in COVID-19 cases amongst residents.
Vice president of student life, Karen Donoghue, confirmed this in an email to beach residents on Nov. 5, stating that there was an increase in positive cases of the virus over the previous 48 hours. All beach residents were required to get tested for the virus that morning and subsequently self-isolate in their homes. Donoghue said that students living on the beach will not be allowed back on campus unless they have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, and all social interactions between beach residents will be restricted to members of their households.
The Stag Bus route has also been suspended from all use until further notice.
Nasser Eljamal ‘21, president of the Beach Resident Advocacy Group (BRAG), reiterated Donoghue’s statements about the importance of isolating.
“This second isolation shows how serious this pandemic is, and how easily it can spread,” Eljamal said. “It’s difficult for students our age to stay locked in our homes, but we need to do whatever we can to flatten the curve. If we want to have a less enforced spring we need to put the work in now to stay safe, stay healthy and stop the spread.”
In conjunction with the isolation of beach residents, the campus also went back into COVID-19 Status Level: Orange for the second time this semester, signaling a moderate risk of infection. Since Nov. 9, there have been 10 new cases, with a total of 145 active cases. 29 are currently quarantining in the Conference Center and 21 are isolated at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport, Conn. The infection rate on campus has gone up from 0.5 percent to two percent over the last two weeks.
As a result of the increase in cases, Fairfield implemented new strategies to prevent further infection before Thanksgiving break. Donoghue sent an email to the entire student body on Nov. 6 detailing all of the new guidelines that students will be expected to follow for the next few weeks.
“With the exception of academic learning experiences, all programs, activities, and ceremonies, including all Masses, will be transitioned to virtual,” she said.
Donoghue also confirmed that all dining options will once again be moved to “grab and go” and students will not be permitted to eat at any indoor dining areas. Instead, students must either eat outside or in their assigned residences.
Along with the rules that had initially been put in place during the University’s first stint in Status Level: Orange, a new curfew will be enforced, along with much stricter guest policies. Now, no student will be permitted to have guests in their assigned residence at all, and students must all be in their residence (i.e. townhouse, apartment or dorm room) between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Failure to comply will result in serious consequences.
“There is a zero-tolerance policy with regards to students not following mitigation strategies. Failure to comply with all mandates issued by the University and public health authorities, ultimately may result in permanent separation (i.e. expulsion) from the University,” said Donoghue’s email.