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College raises COVID Alert Level

Nov. 6, 2020

Dear students,

Effective at noon today, Nov. 6, 2020, Augustana College is moving from COVID Level 2 (medium alert) to COVID Level 3 (high alert). (Alert levels are described here.)

The change in alert levels will not impact the way we are delivering most classes. Any changes would be at the discretion of the professor and those will be shared directly with students in that class.  

We are experiencing an increase in cases in our community and on our campus. We must move to Level 3 because our systems, like quarantine bed capacity and contract tracing staff, are being pushed to the limits. We need to take action before these areas become overloaded or unmanageable.

This week seven students and one employee tested positive through the surveillance testing program. Another seven students have tested positive this week, and 107 are in quarantine because of close contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms.

The change in alert levels also reflects our concern for the broader community, given what we are seeing in the Quad Cities region. The Midwest is recording high infection rates, and stress within the health care system that we can’t ignore. 

I ask you to join me in embracing the following as we work together to ensure a successful conclusion to the on-campus portion of the semester and ensure your healthy return home. 

What you should do

First, I plead with you to double down on the following preventive measures:

• Wear a face mask properly, at all times when you are in public.

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Maintain proper physical distancing at all times.

• Keep your friends groups small.

And, you are asked to record your health status daily using the Campus Clear app every day. (Effective immediately, you will need to show your Campus Clear status when entering the Dining Hall and during other transactions associated with food services).

Respect the new guidelines

Next, I ask that you adhere to and embrace the following guidelines associated with the change from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3: 

• Do not leave campus for any reason other than that which is essential. Eating in restaurants or patronizing bars is a violation of these rules. 

• Students living off-campus or who are commuters, are asked to limit travel for at least the next week to and from only your residence and the college or elsewhere for only essential needs. 

• Gathering size on campus for approved student activities through the Office of Student Life and Leadership cannot exceed 25.

• Other student group activities, including clubs, may not exceed 10 students.

• No in-person non-academic gathering on campus may exceed 60 minutes. 

• Public places in residence halls (i.e. lounges and labs) will be closed until Nov. 15, at which time the closure will be reassessed.  

• All varsity, club and organized intramural athletic activity (practice, training, weight room activity) is immediately suspended until further notice, and all activities in Carver Center will be closed until Nov. 15, at which time the closure will be reassessed.

• The current residence hall visitor restrictions will remain in place. Violations for the remainder of the fall semester will result in fines being doubled. Additionally, hosting any guests in a residence hall room is strongly discouraged for the next week.

• If you are in a situation in which: 1. You are within 6 feet of other people for more than 15 minutes, and 2. One or more person is unmasked, then you are asked not to participate in any in-person campus activities. This situation could occur at an off-campus job or gatherings of more than 10 outside of Augustana and outside of your family or pod of friends.

What we will do

Between now and Thanksgiving, the college will be doing the following:

• Increasing grab-and-go options to reduce density in the dining hall even more.

• Increasing the frequency of cleaning and refreshing of public places and spaces that are heavily trafficked.

• De-densifying campus by permitting an increasing number of employees to work from home to prevent bringing the virus to campus.

• Prohibiting any employee business travel outside the Quad Cities without approval from a cabinet member.

• Encouraging employees to consider being tested (if you are not a part of the surveillance testing protocol) in effort to prevent bringing COVID-19 to Augustana campus.

Actions needed to stay in class

We are taking these actions to help prevent the spread of the virus so that we are able to continue our core mission of offering live classes where possible. 

Please know that the actions we are taking are consistent with our values and our commitment to ensuring you have the very best experience during this challenging and unprecedented time. 

Remember, like you, I want to make sure we are able to continue to deliver an in-person education up to Thanksgiving holiday, and that you return to your Thanksgiving destination. 

We are in this together and by taking these steps together we can do this. 

Sincerely,

President Steve Bahls