Dear Olin Community,
The end of the semester is in sight and the weather is warming up. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the pandemic.... is still here!
You have been incredible partners in keeping the Olin community healthy during this academic year. The few positive tests we’ve had (remember, asymptomatic testing exists to catch cases we don't know about) have been contained and resulted in zero spread within the community because you have helped us to remain vigilant.
Containment of COVID-19 is in sight, but we’re not there yet. There will be a lot of temptation with the good weather in the coming weeks for our community to relax the feeling of urgency and importance of wearing masks and distancing. It would be unfortunate to get this close to the end of the academic year and experience an outbreak on campus. Many of our peer institutions are experiencing an increase in cases, and some are considering significant restrictive measures, including impacting the ability to celebrate graduates.
We are having a virtual Q&A about vaccines this week. On Friday, April 9 at 1:30 p.m. ET, we will be offering a session for community members to ask questions and get more information about the COVID-19 vaccines (iCal attached and Zoom link here). Jeremy Goodman will share the results of the recent community survey on vaccination, followed by Q&A with a panel composed of our resident immunologist Joanne Pratt, director of wellness Beth Grampetro, and nurse practitioner Krista Chavez. If you prefer to ask your questions anonymously, you may submit them through this form by Friday at 10 a.m. ET.
We know you are tired and that this is a lot. We also need your help. In recent weeks, many members of the community have had Restricted status in CoVerified due to testing non-compliance, failure to complete daily symptom reports, or both. Last week, we saw several days with lower than expected numbers of tests performed. In order to keep our community safe during this last half of the semester, we must all make testing on schedule and completing daily symptom reports a priority.
Here’s what we’d like you to keep in mind as we dive into the next month+ at Olin:
- While the approved vaccines are extremely effective, there have been rare "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people. These cases tend to be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but they underscore the need for vaccinated folks to keep taking precautions to protect the members of our community who have not yet received the vaccine.
- The global, national and state numbers look like they may be on the way back up. Rising case numbers in MA show our state is experiencing a very concerning uncontrolled spread. We’d like to keep this spread off Olin’s campus, with your help.
- It is crucial for Olin's on-campus community to keep up with testing and reporting so that we have an accurate picture of community health, even if you have already been vaccinated.
As of April 4, a little over 2.5 million people in Massachusetts have had at least one dose of a vaccine and just under 1.5 million have had 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson or both doses of Moderna or Pfizer. And beginning on April 19, everyone in MA aged 16 or older will be eligible for the vaccine. All authorized COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 and high efficacy against severe COVID-19 as well as COVID-related hospitalization and death. Preliminary data from the clinical trials suggest COVID-19 vaccination may also protect against asymptomatic infection.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has moved ahead with reopening some things. At Olin, we are choosing to take a cautious approach to get us through the rest of the semester — and to be able to send off our graduating seniors well — so the Olin campus will maintain our current testing, reporting and mitigation measures (masks, distancing, not gathering) for the time being.
Please, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.
Jeremy Goodman and Lynn Andrea Stein