Dear Members of the Bentley Community,
Welcome to the first (rebranded) Back to Bentley newsletter of the new academic year. For those who are new to our community, my name is Geoff Bartlett, and I am Bentley’s director of emergency management. I work closely with offices across campus and the administration to help our community prepare for emergencies of all kinds, ranging from winter storm or hurricane preparations to managing the university’s COVID-19 response. In the past, these newsletters were sent on a weekly basis. Going forward, they’ll be shared as new details and information is available to the community. Here’s what’s important to know for this week’s issue:
Face Coverings on Campus
Please remember to wear a face covering before you enter any academic or administrative building on campus. As face coverings are required in virtually all buildings on the main campus excluding residence halls, you should be sure to carry one with you anywhere you go. Face coverings are also required in the fitness center and in any dining area when not seated and actively eating or drinking. It’s important that we respect the choices of others on campus, so you should always wear a face covering when asked as you enter someone’s space.
Daily Health Checks
All students, faculty and staff on campus should remember to conduct a daily COVID-19 symptom self-check using this helpful resource. These do not need to be printed or filled out, but are instead meant to provide our community with a quick symptom tracker. It’s important that we all pay close attention to how we are feeling each day to be on the lookout for possible signs of infection.
Close Contacts and the Classroom
Similar to last year, contact tracing plays an important role in keeping our campus healthy and safe. A close contact is identified as anyone who has been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for a total of 15 minutes or more. In the classroom, this means that if a student or faculty member tests positive, those within 6 feet may be identified as a close contact. However, as detailed below, vaccination rates will help us to reduce the number of close contacts requiring quarantine.
Quarantine vs. Isolation
As a reminder, quarantine refers to the process of staying away from others after coming into close contact with a COVID-19 positive person. This period can last for up to 14 days for unvaccinated individuals as those in quarantine self-monitor for symptoms. Isolation refers to the process of separating those who have tested positive for COVID-19 from others to ensure they do not spread the virus as they recover from the illness. Isolation typically lasts for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. A helpful mnemonic device is that, “we quarantine the questionable and isolate the ill.”
Thanks to the benefit of our community’s high levels of vaccination (95% of undergraduate students, 95% of graduate students and 98% of faculty and staff), fewer close contacts will be required to quarantine this fall compared to last year. That’s because a fully vaccinated person without symptoms is not required to quarantine. Last year, all close contacts were required to enter quarantine housing or temporarily leave campus, even if they initially tested negative and displayed no symptoms.
For the ease-in period of the month of September, residential students and non-residential undergraduate students are required to undergo a weekly COVID-19 screening test to help our community safely begin the fall semester. As a reminder, undergraduate students should already have scheduled their screening tests for the entire month of September in the Bentley Health Portal. The frequency of testing will be reviewed at the end of September.
It’s important that community members not enter the screening test center in Adamian if they are ill or showing any symptoms of COVID-19. If students are symptomatic, they should contact the Health Center at GA_Healthcenter@Bentley.edu or 781-891-2222 to schedule a test away from the screening testing center. Outside of Health Center business hours, please consider getting a test off campus. Ideally, you would be able to obtain documentation of a positive test result and upload it to the Bentley Health Portal. Faculty and staff should consult their healthcare provider if sick.
COVID-19 Testing Dashboard
With the university reopened and classes back in session, we will be updating the COVID-19 testing dashboard on a daily basis to provide full transparency and keep our community informed. The health and safety of our learning community is paramount, and we will rely on these data to guide our decision-making as the university continues to adapt to the pandemic. Since August 22, 49 positive cases have been reported on the dashboard. With 5,930 total tests administered, that leaves us at a 0.84% positivity rate.
As we’ve seen on the national level, and as evident on our dashboard, infections can occur even when fully vaccinated, termed a “breakthrough case.” However, vaccination plays an important role in preventing severe illness from COVID-19 and offers a level of protection against widespread infection. Our high level of community vaccination is the best way for us to stay safe and reduce the number of infections on campus.
Geoffrey C. Bartlett, CEM
Director of Emergency Management
Dear Members of the Bentley Community,