Dear Wake Forest community,
We have made the decision to move the campus to Orange Operating Status — Modified Campus Operations. This decision comes after thorough analysis of recent trends in positive COVID-19 cases in our community. The goal of moving to Orange Status is to pause activities that are most likely to allow further spread of COVID-19. This will permit us to evaluate the prevalence of the virus and slow the pace of its spread while we determine if further steps will be required to contain it.
Together, we have done a good job of managing the number of positive cases on campus by adopting well proven tactics to combat the spread of the virus. Contact tracing, quarantine and isolation practices have been effective and student compliance has been strong. However, we have seen a substantial increase in positive cases on campus and larger numbers of cases across the state. As we have seen at other institutions, if we do not get in front of the pace of new cases fast, it can quickly get out of control. Taking steps now will hopefully deter the continued spread of the virus and allow us to continue to remain together on campus through Thanksgiving.
Based on the collective judgment of public health experts, and academic and administrative leaders, we have chosen to be proactive and implement further measures to help protect our community. Our experts believe that the increased infections on campus are caused by casual interactions with friends, social gatherings associated with some student organizations, and going out to crowded bars and restaurants. Given this information, we can adjust our behavior in spaces where we know that spread is most likely to occur.
In our Orange Status, we will continue to offer in-person classes. All classes, at public health experts’ advice, may remain in current modalities — including mask-to-mask. Any exceptions or changes will be communicated by respective academic deans. We continue to have no known transmission of COVID-19 in a classroom setting.
Faculty and staff can continue to access campus to fulfill their job responsibilities. Campus offices and functions may modify hours, conditions and services to limit contact, at the discretion of the appropriate vice president or dean.
Additionally, the following precautionary measures will be put in place for the next 10 days to help reduce the spread of the virus within our community:
- We know that we naturally let our guard down when we are eating with friends. Therefore, we will provide take away dining options only. Indoor sit-down eating is discouraged, and there is a maximum of two people per table at all seating arrangements while eating.
- Casual interactions among friends can also cause an increase in positive cases. Therefore, we need to continue to be attentive to our gathering limits. Keep indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Social distancing requirements, especially in residence halls, will limit that number further due to space constraints.
- For the near future, club and organization events should be held virtually. Small group meetings may take place with proper social distancing and masks, however, there should be no eating at such meetings.
- There are several upcoming events that we regretfully will need to modify. We will suspend in-person plans for Fall Fest; we will suspend student attendance at the football game and other events this weekend; and all Homecoming activities will be virtual.
- We will increase our weekly standard asymptomatic testing and continue to use contact tracing and data analysis to identify other groups of students who will be required to take a COVID-19 test through the University testing center.
- To help protect our community, we need to minimize the flow of on- and off-campus movement by graduate, professional and undergraduate students. Off-campus students should only come to campus to attend in-person classes or for other essential activities.
- We know that limiting interaction with those outside our community will also help curb the spread of the virus. Therefore, we ask that students who reside on-campus travel off-campus only for essentials, like grocery shopping and individual voting. We also ask that you avoid frequenting crowded bars and restaurants.
After 10 days, we plan to re-evaluate how the virus is affecting our community. Should we be able to regain control of the pace of the spread, we may be able to return to our Yellow Status. Should we not see a downturn in positive cases, we will consider implementing additional precautionary measures, such as installing curfews, reducing access and availability of Reynolds Gym, and eliminating indoor recreational sports. Should the virus rate escalate rapidly, we will take more immediate action. The evaluation could also result in needing to move our community to Red Status — Reduced Contact Campus Operations.
Please continue to protect yourself and others from exposure to COVID-19, and practice all public health precautionary measures. Wear a mask, except when you are actively eating; maintain six feet of distance between you and other people; wash your hands frequently; and avoid large, in-person social gatherings.
If you are experiencing symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to someone known to have tested positive for COVID-19, report that in the SneezSafe tool; if this occurs and you have already completed SneezSafe for the day, please contact Student Health Service at 336-758-5218.
For more information, please visit the Our Way Forward website.
We knew this semester would require us to adapt and show great flexibility as we respond to the virus. I am grateful to all of you who have gotten us to this point, and I ask that we continue to be vigilant as we move closer to Thanksgiving. It is easy to let down our guard, and hopefully, by our increased attentiveness and precautionary measures, we can stop the spread of the virus and return to our Yellow Status.
Thank you for your continued efforts. Please stay healthy and safe.
Nathan O. Hatch