Alumni Hall put on temporary lockdown after 18 residents test positive for COVID-19

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Emily Teixeira

As of 9 PM on Thursday, Alumni Hall went into quarantine after it was discovered that 18 out of 20 of Pace’s confirmed COVID cases are Alumni residents.

Emily Teixeira

18 out of 20 of Pace’s confirmed COVID cases are Alumni residents. As of 9 P.M, September 24, 2020, Alumni Hall was put under quarantine for an undetermined amount of time. Residents received text and email alerts earlier in the evening informing them of the impending curfew, and at 9:30 p.m. there was a Zoom call to answer the students’ questions.

“I want to assure you that we are not at the same point as colleges that we’ve been hearing about in the news,” said Rachel Carpenter, Interim Dean of Students, when informing students of the new precautions during the call. “We’re just trying to get out in front of this… Our team came together tonight, and the Department of Health’s team will get together tomorrow morning to give us the next set of instructions.”

The Westchester County Department of Health is currently in the process of determining the best possible procedures for dealing with this influx of cases within a single residence hall. They will evaluate and contact trace the confirmed cases and decide:

  • If the entire building needs to remain under quarantine
  • If not the whole building, then who needs to quarantine, and for how long
  • Will additional tests be needed, who will be tested, and what will those procedures look like

Until the Department of Health reaches these decisions, all Alumni residents must remain in their rooms/suites, even if they tested negative in this week’s wave of randomized testing. The halls’ lounges, kitchens, and laundry rooms will not be available for use, and residents must order food through a Google forms link.

Alumni resident Liv Hamelin sits down to her first meal in quarantine, ordered via Google form and delivered by Res Life. (Liv Hamelin)

Students with in-person classes or jobs on Friday should contact their professors and bosses to inform them of the situation.

Students with doctors appointments will be permitted to leave, however, they must contact both their healthcare provider and campus security in advance.

Students may contact Res Life if they have time sensitive packages in the mailroom or medication pick up, and a Res Life employee will deliver the package or medication to their dorm.

Any Alumni resident who went home for the weekend prior to the quarantine is asked to stay home and social distance from those in their household until further notice.

Alumni residents still on campus are asked to remain there to keep any asymptomatic or undiagnosed cases contained. However, Res Life will not force students to stay. If students do choose to leave, and a family member is picking them up, they must give security that family member’s name and estimated arrival time, and their family member will not be allowed inside the building itself. The student must have all their belongings ready to go in advance and meet their family member outside Alumni. Res Life does, however, advise students not to leave until the Department of Health has released a more elaborate plan of action.

According to Brian Anderson, Director of Environmental Health, Pace will not need to fully suspend in person activities until 5 per cent of the campus population (roughly 75 students) tests positive within a two-week period.

“Right now, we’re at 20, so, by taking these actions, we’re able to minimize the spread and not let those numbers creep up,” Anderson said. “We are monitoring, and we’re ready to make different accommodations as needed, but currently we’re not talking about suspending operations.”

Students with further questions about Alumni’s new procedures can contact Nilam Kotadia of Res Life at [email protected], and updates will be sent out via email and text alert as they become available.

Alumni Hall resident Liv Hamlin believes that the sudden surge in Alumni’s cases is due to students failing to wear their masks, crowding lounges, and entering each other’s rooms despite the rules. She expressed her feelings about the new procedures.

“It’s definitely hard to hear, but I think this should be a wake up call we need to do better,” Hamlin said. “We all want life to go back to normal, but we can’t do that if we don’t listen to what the officials are telling us. None of this is fun, but it will be a lot better if we listen, so we don’t move backward. We need to move forward.”

THIS IS A RAPIDLY EVOLVING STORY. MORE AS IT DEVELOPS.