Melina Korfonta ’25
In an email to the community Tuesday evening, Chief of Staff Jason Rojas and Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina reported that 79 members of the community (78 students and one employee) are currently isolating with COVID-19. The number of those infected and in isolation has since increased: 156 students and two employees are positive as of Feb. 18, according to the Dashboard. 108 students and two employees are currently in isolation. The surge comes at a time when 98 percent of the community has been vaccinated and a total of three booster shot clinics have been hosted by the College.
“We have 45 students who are isolating on campus with the remainder isolating off campus,” said Rojas and DiChristina in their email Tuesday. Drawing from information gathered by the health center, they believed that the surge in cases at the time was the result of social gatherings. “Our goal remains to mitigate disruption to the in-person learning experience, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure that happens.”
This past week marks the highest surge in cases Trinity has seen to date. In October 2020, the Tripod reported that Trinity’s case count rose to 56. The October outbreak, which was tied to off-campus athletic housing and residences, prompted the College to place infected students on the same floor as non-infected students in the Stowe and Clemens dormitories without any notice to students residing in those dormitories.
Last month, there were a total of 49 active cases with 40 students and nine employees testing positive on Thursday, Jan. 6. The surge in cases prompted the College to move all spring courses online for the first week of the semester. “We could start the semester with an unprecedented number of students (and faculty) having to isolate, which would prove highly disruptive to learning,” said Dean of the Faculty Sonia Cardenas while explaining the remote shift in an email to faculty.
In an email to the community Friday evening, Rojas and DiChristina acknowledged the rising case count. They again attributed the positive cases to social gatherings on campus: “Our data continues to show that social interactions are the highest risk activities and are the primary driver of COVID-19 infections. We know that the social experience is important to students and your overall college experience. However, we strongly encourage everyone to show respect for our community and wear your mask appropriately and consistently.” DiChristina told the Tripod in December that the College seeks to avoid disciplinary action and that mask compliance remains an issue in locations that are more difficult to monitor.
Responding to questions regarding the surge in cases, Rojas told the Tripod that “Many institutions of higher education experienced an increase in cases when they returned from the winter break and resumed campus activities. We anticipated that we would have an increase in cases.” He also attributed the spread to COVID fatigue among students: “That fatigue includes a desire to return to a more normal college experience as well as an increase in students seeking mental health support because of social isolation and various public health restrictions. This unfortunately is not limited to our campus community.”
Rojas and DiChristina indicated that the College remains committed to in-person learning, and that most cases have been asymptomatic or mild which they attributed to the College’s high vaccination rate. In-person dining and grab-and-go options will also remain available.
This article was updated on Saturday, Feb. 26 to include comment from Rojas.