On Wednesday, Dec. 8, students received their weekly COVID-19 email update from the COVID Task Force at Whittier College. This included results from the mandatory testing that residential students had to undergo following Thanksgiving break. This update included four more current cases and five more cumulative cases since the last update from the previous Thursday, Dec. 2. These cases came from three residential students and one commuter student.
The following morning, Dec. 9, Associate Director Lisa Newton, informed the campus community, through an email update, that the College suspects a “COVID-19 cluster,” or outbreak, on campus. The email read, “We would like to inform you that we have recently identified several confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) at Whittier College that we presume are linked.”
Administration is working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to both follow up with anyone who has come in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19; this includes setting up testing and quarantine, if necessary. Anyone who has not yet been contacted has not come in close contact with a COVID-positive individual on campus.
The email recounted COVID-19 protocols as a reminder that students must stay as safe as possible, “Be proactive about reducing the number of interactions that students and staff have with one another by practicing physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart) as feasible to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to physical distancing, another important tool to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene.”
The email listed the following as other ways “you can help:”
- Get vaccinated, including the booster shot(s).
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, or you are sick otherwise, stay home.
- Keep up with your hygiene! Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. In addition, when you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue, dispose of it immediately, and wash your hands.
- If you know someone is sick, limit contact with them. Also, avoid sharing any food, drink, utensils, and so forth.
- Consistently disinfect surfaces with household cleaning products to reduce the risk of lingering infection.
- Wear a mask indoors, especially in on-campus educational settings.
- Fill out the health screening form daily, if you are going to be on the Whittier College campus.
As for students who were in close contact with COVID-19 positive students, but were planning to leave campus for break, the College did not require them to quarantine on campus. Newton said, “We did not require students in isolation or quarantine to remain on campus if they had plans to return home after finals. We provided them with guidance on travel and how to keep themselves and others safe through that transition.”
For additional information about COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, please visit the LA County Department of Public Health coronavirus website. For any questions or concerns about COVID-19 on the Whittier College campus, contact the COVID-19 Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org or 562.685.1100.
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