The message below was sent by Eleanor JB Daugherty, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students, to students on all campuses on December 8, 2021
Subject: Finishing Strong
I’m back, as promised, with some more information.
The number of students testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase. This is consistent with the increases we are seeing reported at a state and national level.
After reviewing the contact tracing for those testing positive and observing the wastewater data for the past week, we do not currently appear to have an outbreak on campus. These cases are occurring through identified close contacts and testing of symptomatic students. Based on that information, we are testing, isolating, and quarantining students as appropriate. We are doing OK for now, and will continue to support you with care and caution.
Yes, we will stay in orange, but we will not progress to red at this time. That can always change and the increased measures I discussed with you last week would certainly be available to us if we needed them to control spread.
There is, however, notable levels of the flu A virus present in the wastewater. This means that many of you may not be feeling well and may have symptoms that are similar to COVID-19. If so, please get tested for COVID. I know patience is required in some areas of the state to access testing. If that is the case for you, please work closely Student Services (regional students) or the Dean of Students office (Storrs) so we can accommodate your illness around finals.
And now there is the Omicron variant. When I wrote you last week, Omicron had not arrived in the United States. Nearly a week later, we know that Omicron is present in Connecticut. So, when I get worried, I talk to my friends at SHaW and UConn Health, where Dr. David Banach reminds me of a few things:
- The dominant variant in Connecticut and throughout the United States is still Delta and will likely remain that way for a little while.
- The strategy of masking, testing and isolating when sick, and vaccination works. It really makes a difference.
- There is still so much we don’t know about Omicron: spread, severity of illness from infection, responsiveness to the vaccine and treatments. These are all things we can assess as more information becomes available to us in the coming weeks. Thankfully, UConn has its own epidemiologists who do this work every day and advance our understanding of this disease.
- The world needs more epidemiologists. If any of your students are aspiring epidemiologists and find these details interesting, they should read this info about Omicron.
After checking in with Dr. Banach, then I talked to Dr. Ellyssa Eror, UConn alum and Medical Director at SHaW. It’s cool to have an epidemiologist on speed dial, but it’s even cooler to talk to the doctor who oversees the care of our students. She was thinking about how you are going home to loved ones over the upcoming winter break and shared the following:
- Our students have always cared for each other and their loved ones. Don’t stop now. Exposure happens with the greatest risk to those not able to be vaccinated. Encourage friends and family to be vaccinated.
- If you’re not feeling well, don’t ignore it. Get tested. Rest. Separate yourself from those who might have compromised or developing immune systems (think the elderly, little ones, and those with complex medical conditions).
- Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Do all the good things you’ve been doing at UConn.
- Did Dr. Banach say get a booster? Get a booster… and a flu shot!
- By the way, primary care medicine is cool too. And it’s easier to spell. More doctors = improved health equity.
So that’s the information I am taking to heart as we conclude the semester. I know it’s been a long semester and finals are not easy. What you need to know is how much we all care for you: Dr. Banach, Dr. Eror, myself, and countless others.
Our good health reflects our common care for each other. We will continue on, despite whatever setbacks Omicron may offer, with that care in mind.
Keep at it, Huskies. We got you.
All my best,
Eleanor JB Daugherty, EdD
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
P.S. Had a great conversation earlier this week on concerns about to-go containers being less available in the dining halls in the spring semester. We came up with some great solutions to meet the needs expressed. I’ll be in touch before the start of the next term on how we will be accommodating student medical and academic interests.