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Yale ignores science, mandates one month quarantine for students returning to campus

Abigail Streetman, Campus Reform

  • Yale University released plans to enact a three-phase COVID-19 protocol that requires students to quarantine for a month or longer from the date they arrived on campus.
  • The new three-phase program will slowly open the campus to students, and does not allow off-campus students to use college-owned buildings until two weeks after the start of classes.
  • Students are not allowed to leave campus until March 1, one month after their arrival.

Yale University released a new COVID-19 plan for students’ arrival to campus, calling for a month-long quarantine during the spring 2021 semester.

A Jan. 14 message from Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd outlined the school’s reopening plans for students living both on and off-campus during the spring 2021 semester. These new guidelines lay out a three-phase plan, consisting of testing and quarantining for a month after arrival on campus.

In fall 2020, the school’s students were mandated to quarantine in their residential colleges for 14 days upon arrival to campus. However, these new guidelines for spring 2021 consist of a month-long quarantine that will occur in three phases consecutively.

In Boyd’s message, she instructed students to register for a move-in date and time on either January 28 or 29, but students with special permission may move in on a later date. Students are also required to take a pre-arrival COVID test that is sent by mail to their current residence, which must be negative before they can return.

The first phase of Yale’s new plan involves the pre-arrival test, scheduling a move-in time, and subsequently scheduling an arrival COVID test. Students will then be required to stay in their suites until they receive a negative result from the arrival test which may take between 24-36 hours, according to Boyd.

Students must create an electronic health records account in order to schedule their arrival testing through the college, and they must schedule the test for their move-in time as this is the first thing they will do when returning to campus. After the semester begins all students will be assigned to a twice-weekly testing schedule.

Spring semester classes were scheduled to begin February 1.

The second phase begins after the student receives their negative arrival-test result, and allows them to leave their suite, but requests that they stay within their residential college and corresponding courtyard. This phase will end on February 15, 2021 at 6:59am, for all students, regardless of arrival. Permission to leave campus will be permitted for medical reasons or emergencies.

The difference between the quarantine of fall and the new rules for spring is that each student in the fall was expected to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. This semester will involve a set end date that is universal to all students, so it will be 19 days between the earliest move in date, Jan. 28, to Feb. 15 (the end of the quarantine period).

The last phase of the new protocol will begin at 7am on Feb. 15 and last until 7am on March 1. Students will be permitted to leave their residential college but must stay on campus grounds, maintaining distance from stores and restaurants that are not campus buildings.

It will not be until March 1 that students will be permitted to leave campus.

“At 7:00 a.m. on March 1, you will be able to leave campus and interact with the New Haven community, provided you follow the guidelines in the community compact,” Boyd wrote.

The Dean of Yale College, Marvin Chun, wrote in an email to Yale Daily News, that “the policies are of course not meant to be punitive; they are meant to reduce the risk of viral spread in the community at a time of sharply higher infection rates across the country as well as here in New Haven.”

Chun also explained that students will be able to request permission to leave campus during the third phase if extraordinary circumstances arise.

According to the message from Boyd, students living off campus will be expected to follow similar guidelines for testing and quarantine. During phase one and two, off-campus students will not be granted access to campus facilities apart from COVID-19 testing. During phase three, off-campus students will be allowed in campus buildings but are only permitted to enter their residential colleges for COVID-19 testing.

Violations of this protocol will be subject to review by the Compact Review Committee, according to Chun. More than 150 students were brought before this committee in the fall 2020 semester, according to the Yale Daily News.

The Compact Review Committee is a regulatory body on campus created by the university to enforce the community compact agreement. This new set of policies is designed to ensure that all student behavior is in line with Connecticut health standards. Students who do not abide by these rules acknowledge that they may lose access to campus.

Liam Curtis, a sophomore at Yale, expressed dissatisfaction with the new guidelines in a comment to the Yale Daily News.

“I feel super lucky to go back to campus during such a grim period in our country, but it’s tough to anticipate such an unfamiliarly restricted experience,” Curtis said.

The Center for Disease Control’s new guidelines recommend a quarantine period of 14 days, but further explains that quarantine can end after day 10 “without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.” The CDC also says that “with this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.”

However, Chun believes that his school’s protocol accurately follows public health guidance.

“For such a dense residential community, this unchanged period of quarantine is what public health officials from the state and Yale’s Public Health Advisory Committee have called for, even in light of the CDC’s revised recommendations,” Chun also wrote in his email to the Yale Daily News.

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