COVID-19 testing procedure updated in response to rise in positive cases
The University announced that community members will now need to present photo ID at on-campus testing sites.
As of March 22, all Brandeis community members getting tested for COVID-19 on campus must present a photo ID upon submitting their test samples, per a March 19 email to the community from COVID-19 Program Director Morgen Bergman. This email followed another message on COVID-19 safety from Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, warning that “Brandeis’ COVID positivity rate is ratcheting upward, with undergraduates representing nearly all new cases.”
Ou’s March 18 email said that Brandeis’ COVID-19 positivity rate was higher than the state’s higher education average, and that the number of students in quarantine and isolation is higher than it’s been since the COVID-19 testing program kicked off last July. Ou explained that most new COVID-19 cases were coming from students who traveled and/or attended off-campus social gatherings. He also revealed that many students who were testing positive were “reporting high numbers of close contacts, sometimes more than a dozen each.”
Ou wrote that if positivity rates do not go down soon, “we will have no choice but to lock the campus down: decreasing in-person gathering limits, cancelling planned gatherings, and switching to remote courses.”
Bergman’s email provided further detail on issues with COVID-19 compliance on campus. She wrote that the University received multiple reports of students “sending friends to impersonate them to submit their sample.” Any Brandeis community member who attempts this in the future will “face swift and severe disciplinary action,” Bergman wrote. Ou’s email also emphasized that students can expect to face disciplinary measures — including expulsion — for violating COVID-19 safety regulations on campus.
Both emails included reminders about the University’s COVID-19 safety regulations. Those submitting COVID-19 test samples on campus must swab their noses in a private location with the door closed — such as a car, personal office or dorm — or at a designated area within the testing location. The email from Bergman specified that no one should be pulling down their masks to swab their noses inside or outside the testing location. Also, each sample must be collected on the same day it is turned in, Bergman wrote. Ou reminded the community that those who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, are not feeling well or are in isolation or quarantine should contact the Health Center, and should not go to general testing locations.
This all came after a March 16 email to the Brandeis community from President Ron Liebowitz, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Fierke, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stew Uretsky and Ou announcing that it plans to reopen campus for the fall 2021 semester. Due to the fact that Brandeis was able to maintain low COVID-19 positivity rates in fall 2020 and early spring 2021, the administration plans to enact a “robust, safe, in-person experience” for the fall 2021 semester, per the email.
The plans include the following: bringing all students back on campus, having a majority of classes instructed in-person and resuming in-person activities and clubs. The email states that these plans are subject to change based on guidance from public health authorities.
University travel regulations also recently changed to allow travel within the entire state of Massachusetts, according to a March 5 email from Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing and External Relations Dan Kim. Prior to this change, students were not allowed to travel outside of the greater Boston area.
Finally, the University updated the policies on usage of the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. In the March 5 update from Kim, it was noted that each community member must present a green passport, or a Shabbat alternative, in order to be able to use the facility.
This article has been updated to include additional information.