University changes COVID-19 policies due to rise in cases
On March 16, Andrea Dine, assistant vice president of student affairs, sent out an email to the Brandeis community with a subject line of “Important update: Increase in Testing Frequency for Students.” The email announced that as of March 17, the required testing frequency was once again every 96 hours. Students must submit on-campus PCR tests roughly twice a week, a quick turnaround from the previously announced relaxation of requirements that reduced testing to once a week. The email specified that the update in the testing policy was due to an increase in positivity and quarantine rates on campus. It also stated that as of that Thursday, they expected the University to “have the highest number of students in isolation or quarantine since the pandemic began.”
Students are likely contracting the virus from “large social gatherings off campus,” as indicated by the University’s contact tracing program. There has not been a noticeable increase in transmission on campus, including in classes, labs, and other areas, but because the cases have increased, the University stressed that it was important to adjust their policies accordingly. The email also urged students to continue masking when gathering off campus, particularly when indoors.
This email was sent after a March 3 email which relaxed certain COVID-19 policies on campus. In the March 3 email, the University had specified that as of March 7, vaccinated students only need to test once a week, as opposed to the previous requirement of every 96 hours. While vaccinated staff, faculty, and affiliates are not required to get tested, the University recommended that they test twice a week. The requirements for unvaccinated individuals, however, did not change, and they are still required to test twice a week. Testing remains available for “any asymptomatic community member” who wants to test. Because the required testing frequency was reduced, the University announced that they were closing the testing center in the Mandel Center for the Humanities, and all testing was consolidated at the Shapiro Science Center as of March 7. Testing at the Mandel Center ended on March 4.
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