COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise on Campus

COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with eight new positive student cases recorded over the weekend. This brings the number of reported active cases to 27 students and 3 employees, according to Health Analytics Dashboard, as of Tuesday, September 13.

In accordance with the CDC, if fully vaccinated, close contacts are no longer required to quarantine, but should wear a mask. Per protocol, those who tested positive must isolate for 10 days, unless they receive a negative antigen test after day six. All information about reporting a positive case, isolation and quarantine can be found on the Colgate website underneath “Health Preparedness and Analytics.”

Junior Bella Yu currently lives in her sorority house where three COVID-19 cases have been reported.

“There are three people in my house that have [COVID-19],” Yu said. “We voted as a house to close the second-floor bathroom for those who have COVID and are generally being more cautious.”

In addition to following University pandemic guidelines, Yu’s house is closed to visitors for the time being.

“Our chef requested we don’t have people in the house outside of our sorority until rush, which we all respect,” Yu said. “I think it’s a fair way to approach it because we understand COVID way more than in previous years. I feel safe and positive about the way it’s being approached.”

Despite an uptick in cases, Colgate is holding its original COVID-19 guidelines for the fall semester, requiring all students and employees to have completed a primary COVID-19 vaccine series and one booster, according to the University website. 

“We are adhering to the CDC’s guidance which says we should require individuals to be up to date for the vaccinations,” President Brian Casey said. “We’re clearly going to move to the point where an annual COVID shot is going to be available, like the flu shot. This [potential annual requirement] is a question that I really want to bring back to the Task Force.”

Students can wear a mask if they see fit, but the University no longer requires students to wear them. The Colgate Cruiser system, which previously required masks onboard vehicles, also adapted to a changed New York State law removing mask mandates on public transportation. According to an email from L. Hazel Jack on Sept. 12, masks will no longer be required on Cruisers beginning Sept. 23. They will remain required in Student Health Services until further notice.

There is also no longer arrival testing required for students, but the University strongly recommends pre-arrival testing, according to the University website.

Carolyn L. Hsu, professor of sociology, offered a faculty perspective. Hsu was on the Task Force for Reopening and had COVID-19 during the first week of the semester.

“The differences between Omicron and Delta is that Omicron is much more contagious but not as dangerous as Delta, especially with vaccination,” Hsu said. “Luckily, we know a lot more about COVID now than we did previously. To prevent Omicron from spreading around campus, we would have to lock everyone in the rooms and shut down. It will spread, but we know more now and have a high vaccination rate. The cost of keeping students in their room and shutting down is much more than the actual risk of Omicron.”

Although the University is not changing COVID-19 restrictions based on the current situation on campus, Casey noted that the increasing number of cases is being closely monitored.

“If we thought that there was a degradation in the academic program or a real health risk to the community, there might be changes,” Casey said. “The Emergency Operations Center has been looking at this – and there could be changes, but I don’t anticipate that quite yet.”