Dear UMass Dartmouth Community,
As you may have heard, seven UMass Dartmouth commuter students, who currently live in New Bedford, tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week after renting ice time at New Bedford’s Hetland Arena for non-university affiliated use. Thankfully, our asymptomatic testing and contact tracing efforts quickly identified these individuals, informed them of the need to isolate, and urged anyone in close contact to quarantine and get tested. All seven students are currently isolating and in regular contact with our University Health Services staff who are working with both the New Bedford and Dartmouth Health Departments.
During this pandemic, everyone must remain vigilant about what they must do to keep each other safe. I want to thank our Health Services staff that caught the initial case and stopped this 7-person cluster, which made up 4% of New Bedford’s total positive cases over the past two-week period (181), from further spread within our community. While I am grateful for that fact, there will continue to be positive cases within our student population.
What will allow us to be successful as a community and university during that time is our commitment to testing, contact tracing, and compliance with health and safety protocols. While some aspects of life are slowly creeping back to normal, we cannot let our guard down against COVID-19. Remember the important tactics that we can each practice in our daily lives, including the use of face coverings, social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, attention to handwashing and other hygiene, refrain from gathering in large groups. completing the daily symptom checklist, staying home if feeling ill, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
All commuter students who visit campus and residential students must be tested for COVID-19 and I encourage all faculty and staff to be tested as well. These tests are easy to schedule and complete. The testing center in Woodland Commons is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4:50 pm. Remember, residential students cannot be tested on Fridays. Also, you need to show a completed daily COVID-19 symptom tracker before being admitted for testing. This brief checklist can be completed on a computer or your phone through the Health Services Patient Portal where you also schedule your testing appointment.
The new policies and procedures in all aspects of our lives have required a significant shift in our day-to-day routine, but they are necessary to ending this pandemic as soon as possible. We all must be practice personal responsibility and community accountability to make this work. Be safe, and smart everyone.
Mark Preble, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chancellor