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Jan. 23, 2021 – Cluster outbreak due to shelter-in-place violation

Posted by on Saturday, January 23, 2021 in Community Messages.

Dear undergraduate students,

Based upon the results of rapid-cycle testing and contact tracing, we identified a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases linked to students who did not follow the arrival shelter-in-place rules. As a consequence, the university has required all members of two student organizations, except those who have not yet traveled back to Nashville and those previously positive in the last 90 days, to continue to shelter in place for the next 10 days.

Our efforts through Feb. 3 will help define the rest of our semester. I know how much each of us wants to be here engaging, and we will work to accomplish this together.

This virus is serious. I cannot stress enough the importance of following the university’s COVID-19 protocols, starting with our requirement to shelter in place from your arrival in Nashville until receiving a negative arrival test and to fully observing the Commodores Care period through Feb. 3.

Due to the actions of a few students in the cluster of positive cases who violated those protocols, more than 100 students are now in quarantine.

Our shared goal is to ensure preventive measures and personal safety practices will help slow the spread of COVID-19 as students arrive back on campus from across the world.

I know we all want a successful spring semester, which is why we must take the COVID-19 protocols extremely seriously to help protect the health and safety of our fellow Commodores as much as possible. This includes the Commodores Care period.

I want to reiterate these key points that are most important to remember between now and Feb. 3:

  • If you have arrived back in Nashville or on campus, you must shelter in place in your residence hall room or off-campus residence until you receive a negative test result from your first arrival test. You should not have contact with others.
  • Through Feb. 3, all university programming (other than what is outlined below) and student organization activities must be virtual. Student interactions must also be virtual during this timeframe. You must not participate in gatherings or engage in in-person social interactions. Again, this will continue through the end of the Commodores Care period on Feb. 3. During this time, you CAN:
    • leave your residences to attend in-person classes;
    • pick up to-go food or supplies;
    • seek medical attention; and
    • engage in outdoor activities that do not involve close contact, such as walking, hiking or running.
  • You are always required to follow safety protocols, including wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distance. The only time you should remove a mask around another person is when you are at least 6 feet apart while eating. During times you are not actively eating during a meal, you should put your mask back on.

We know there were concerns last semester regarding students who violated campus protocols not being held accountable. I assure you that we have been taking all violations seriously and will continue to do so this semester.

During the fall, 85 students were placed on disciplinary probation for incidents involving significant violations of COVID-19 policies. Of these, 31 were also placed on a deferred suspension status, which means if they are found responsible for another violation of policy during the spring 2021 semester, the minimum sanction will be suspension. Additionally, one student organization was suspended for an incident involving a more significant violation of COVID-19 policies and protocols. There were no successful appeals of these sanctions. There are consequences of probation—students will be unable to hold leadership positions or join certain student organizations.

I encourage you to continue to step up, not only by following protocols, but also by encouraging your friends to do what is right. This is a dangerous virus, and there are potential consequences—beyond disciplinary actions—for your health and the health and safety of your friends and our community.

Mark Bandas
Dean of Students

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