Return to Campus Newsletter
October 1, 2020
Dear Bentley Community,
This week, the Governor’s Office announced the easing of some restrictions across the state as reopening phases continue to move forward in some communities outside of the City of Boston. Though this news is welcomed, it makes it even more important that we maintain our vigilant efforts to strictly follow all health and safety policies and protocols in place on campus. Our low positive test rate on campus is a testament to the effectiveness of distancing, coverings, hygiene, daily self-checks and keeping weekly screening test appointments. We can continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 only by continuing to closely follow all campus guidelines.
Our screening test program is an important part of our on-campus mitigation, but it does not relieve us of the need to avoid risk and follow the public health guidelines. A negative test result tells you only what was true yesterday, and it’s critical to still follow all the guidelines even with a recent negative result in hand. If you tested yesterday and feel sick today, you still must stay in your room or at home and consult with the Health Center.
Please note, it is vitally important that you not go to the screening test site if you are sick. We must keep this area for healthy persons only to protect the other members of our community being tested and the staff working there from being exposed to illness. If you are sick, please call the Health Center directly at 781-891-2222.
As a result of the pandemic we are all now awash in public health terminology. We strive to be precise in the language we use and want to make sure our careful use of some jargon-y words is understood as intended. “Isolation” and “quarantine” appear similar but have distinct meanings. A common mnemonic is that we “isolate the ill” and “quarantine contacts.”
- Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. In the case of COVID-19, this includes individuals who have tested positive. In accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate from others for at least 10 days or longer if symptoms persist and until cleared to leave isolation by a public health authority. Students who test positive on campus can either isolate in a single room on North Campus or return home until they have been cleared to return by a public health authority and the Health Center.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick, particularly individuals identified by contact tracing as having come into close contact with a COVID-19 case. These individuals will be restricted to a room on campus or their home, tested and required to remain in quarantine for 14 days. In accordance with the state’s requirement, contacts must remain quarantined for a full 14 days, even if they initially test negative for the coronavirus.
- Suspect Cases refer to individuals displaying symptoms that closely mirror those of COVID-19. With seasonal illnesses on the rise, the Health Center is requiring individuals with upper respiratory symptoms to isolate until COVID-19 can be ruled out, usually around 24-48 hours. This precautionary measure will result in more instances of isolation and quarantine on campus, but does not indicate a rise in positive cases of COVID-19. Please do not confuse this precautionary isolation or roommate quarantine with those who are under Department of Public Health required isolation or quarantine related to a documented case of COVID-19.
Seeing multiple people placed into isolation or quarantine, whether due to a confirmed case or a suspect case, can have the appearance of a rapidly deteriorating public health situation. We’ll continue to share all test results daily on our COVID-19 dashboard—the source for accurate information—and will let the community know if there’s a dramatic change in the public health situation such as an outbreak.
Broad Institute Testing
Several news outlets this week reported on the varied successes and struggles of institutions that welcomed students back to campus for the fall. Experience and evidence are showing that one of the keys to success is an effective screening test program. As you know, Bentley partnered with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., to test our on-campus population each week for COVID-19. The Broad (rhymes with road, by the way) provides us with affordable access to a high-quality PCR test—the gold standard for accuracy and the same test used by hospitals for diagnoses—and quick turnaround time. Thanks to Broad’s incredible partnership with Bentley and other higher education institutions, we were able to conduct 15,975 screening tests in the month of September, which continues to play a vital role in keeping our campus healthy and safe.
This week, we added one new positive case to our dashboard from a test done by an off-campus medical provider on September 25 for a total of six since the start of the fall trimester. Our negative test results continue to hold at 99.97%.
Thanks for continuing to do your part to keep our community safe.
Geoffrey C. Bartlett, CEM
Director of Emergency Management