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September 2 COVID-19 Update

September 2, 2021

Dear Members of Our UD Community,

The past few days have been challenging, I know. The email I sent out on Tuesday night came to many of you as a shock. We certainly knew that the virus might eventually hit our community, but the rapidity of the spread was swift, exhausting our reserve of rooms for isolation very quickly.

Our goal is to return to in-person classes as swiftly as possible; there is no doubt that the in-person experience is the hallmark of our undergraduate education. We applied similar pauses twice last year, and both times did so when there were fewer positive cases than we currently have; both times we were able to contain the number of positive cases to the point at which we had adequate space on campus for isolating COVID-positive students. I have every expectation that this will work again, and that we will be back to the in-person classroom experience that is so fundamental to our mission.

I wanted to provide several updates on our COVID situation here on our Irving campus.

  • We learned yesterday that the student who had been transported to the ER was released and is now recuperating at home with family. Our interim Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Greg Roper, has been in contact with the family and will continue to check in with them during the coming week to assure them of our support and prayers.
  • As of yesterday evening, 38 students and one employee have tested positive. We have had more positive cases today, and anticipate continued tests this week. Some of those positives were athletes, and as a result, following NCAA protocols, several NCAA contests that were planned are being rescheduled. I fully anticipate that events that are scheduled for Sept. 13 and beyond will continue as planned. As we track the effectiveness of the pause in containing the high number of cases, we will make a final determination next week with respect to ending the pause as planned.
  • As many of you know, the rooms set aside for quarantine and isolation are at capacity. Thankfully, we were able to secure additional rooms at a nearby hotel. Having students isolate in a hotel room is less ideal than isolating on campus, but I am grateful that we have found space for them off campus.
  • With respect to recent adjustments to the protocols during this pause, first, the Provost Office issued new guidance to encourage but not require masks in dorms. However, capacity in any one dorm room is still limited to no more than four students, and social distancing should be practiced in the lounges so that we avoid large, closely crowded groups in indoor spaces. Second, we are now allowing student fans at our NCAA athletic contests. For indoor contests, masks are required, as is social distancing.
  • We continue to encourage students to use outdoor spaces whenever possible, and Student Affairs has organized activities such as games and outdoor movies for students during this time. There is every reason to take advantage of these opportunities to recreate and grow in friendship with each other.

Lastly, I know this transition to online learning for the next week is not optimal, though it does allow all of our students to continue to progress through our courses together. To repeat, the distinctiveness of our undergraduate program is the learning that takes place in person. Wisdom, truth and virtue are goods best pursued in dialogue with one another. Small classes led by our dedicated faculty members reading Core texts and wrestling with existential questions — these are the hallmarks of a UD educational experience, and we all desire to return to this as soon as we possibly can. Returning to in-person learning on Sept. 13 is precisely why we have implemented these temporary measures. We will get past this soon, and may even find some silver linings as we make our way through this pause, including opportunities to exercise charity and patience with each other, and to grow in friendship as we navigate a challenging circumstance together.

My deepest thanks to our health clinic physician, Dr. Lora Rodriguez, along with the assistance of Dr. Laurie Dekat, as well as our contact tracer Jennifer Ochieng, and the tremendous work of our Student Affairs staff, UD PD and Facilities, who continue to serve the students on campus to ensure their health and well-being.

Thank you to our faculty for your continuing commitment to our students’ educational needs, and especially to our students and their families, for your patience and understanding as we navigate this challenge together. Please continue to pray to Our Blessed Mother for her intercession for the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of our campus community.

Sincerely Yours,
Pres Sanford Signature
Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy