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October 15, 2020

Dear Bentley Community, 

I hope that you continue to stay healthy and safe as the fall seasons moves forward. On campus, the screening test program continues to prove effective in allowing us to accurately identify new cases of COVID-19 on campus and take the appropriate steps to isolate the positive instances and quarantine any contacts. The regular testing of our on-campus population plays a major role in ensuring the health and safety of our community. This week, I’ll share some other ways that we can continue to protect ourselves and one another.

Increase in Cases on Campus
Tuesday and Wednesday’s screening tests saw a jump in the number of on-campus cases. All new cases are in isolation and health officials are working on contact tracing and quarantine measures for any close contacts. To ensure a thorough process, we will be rescreening specifically identified subsets of our on-campus community tomorrow, as the screening test protocol has proven to be immensely beneficial in identifying positive cases prior to the onset of symptoms. Doing so allows us to isolate positive individuals quickly and reduce their number of close contacts. As a reminder, any positive individuals will be relocated to isolation housing, and any contacts will be required to quarantine.

Minimizing Transmission by Avoiding Gatherings
Attending gatherings where it is not possible to maintain a safe physical distance of at least six feet has been found to be a major contributor to the spread of the coronavirus. As a reminder, whether on campus or otherwise, it’s critically important that we not put ourselves in situations that may lead to a high risk for transmission of the virus, including indoor gatherings and outdoor events exceeding the state’s occupancy limit.

Wearing face coverings and washing our hands and surfaces plays an important role in mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19. However, it is just as important that we not put ourselves in a situation where we may not be able to responsibly engage with others. The cooler temperatures on the horizon may make it tempting to spend more time indoors with others. Remember to be responsible and limit your circle of close contacts as the fall season continues. 

Supporting Mental Health Awareness
October 10 was World Mental Health Day, an effort to raise awareness and support mental health—including your own. This year, unprecedented stress and uncertainty are compounded by the loss of socialization with friends and family, a result of the need to limit gatherings as mentioned above. In this difficult time, it’s never been more important to be there for one another, and as importantly, to ask for support when we need it. For all students, the Counseling Center continues to be available for telehealth appointments and can be contacted at (781) 891-2274.

Due to state licensing requirements, the Counseling Center may not be available for a direct consultation for students living outside of Massachusetts. However, Counseling Center staff are still available to speak with those students and can help to identify resources or counselors in your state or country who are licensed to provide counseling support. 

If you are having a difficult time, remember that you are not alone, and that the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of millions across the world. It’s important that we recognize this and not be reluctant to ask for help.

For all faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program is a confidential resource available to help identify resources including mental health counseling and child/elder-care. Bentley’s Employee Assistance Provider, KGA, Inc., is available 24 hours a day and can be contacted at (800) 648-9557

COVID-19 Dashboard

As of today, 33 positive cases have been reported on the dashboard since the start of the fall trimester. With 26, 433 total tests administered, that leaves us at a 0.13% positivity rate.

With regards to the dashboard and how positive tests are reported, I wanted to clarify the process for tests that are conducted by off-campus medical providers. If a member of our community with access to campus notifies us that they have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of our screening program, we will add one new test and one new positive to the totals. In cases like this, we’ll retroactively add the positive instance to the dashboard to reflect the date the positive test sample was collected. We’ll then conduct an extensive contact tracing process as with all positive cases of COVID-19 on campus.  

Thanks for all that you are doing to keep yourself and others healthy and safe. Together, we will see this through.

Geoffrey C. Bartlett, CEM
Director of Emergency Management