Saint Joseph’s College shifts to remote learning, following positive COVID-19 cases on campus

Published: Sep. 13, 2020 at 12:38 PM EDT
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STANDISH, Maine (WMTW) - Saint Joseph’s College in Standish will begin a study-in-place program starting Monday, following the detection of nine positive cases on campus.

In a letter to the Saint Josephs campus community, President Jim Dlugos offered reassurance by saying that “the positive cases on campus are not widespread. Our contact tracing processes have identified that the majority of the cases came from the same connected group. Most of them are from a single residence hall,” Dlugos said.

The letter went on to say they will continue to keep a close eye on case numbers through wastewater testing, the expansion of surveillance testing, and the use of contact tracing resources from the CDC.

Starting Sunday, the campus implemented a “study-in-place” program for all on-campus students, those in residence and commuters. In the letter, Dlugos says this means classes will be delivered remotely, with on campus students learning from their dorms and off-campus students doing class from home for up to 2 weeks, unless otherwise evaluated. They hope this will help the campus move from the level 2 status they are at currently, back down to level 1.

Students are required to stay in their rooms as much as possible for this period of time. According to the letter, starting Monday the College will work to test every student on campus. The CDC recommends that students on campus stay put, as opposed to returning to different communities at this time. The letter says any students who test positive, must isolate in for 10 days. Dlugos says, “To allow us to focus our space and care on these students, individuals going through the contact tracing process who must quarantine for 14 days must do so off-campus, with certain exceptions.”

The entire staff of SJC is working on ideas to make this moment easier students. Meanwhile, some specific areas of college life that have been curtailed for the duration of this period:

  • Campus will be effectively closed to visitors. Campus Safety will create a “comfort zone” at the entrance to campus to make sure anyone coming and going is staying safe.
  • Alfond Center will be closed for the week.
  • Baggot Street seating areas will be closed, but the usual selection of food will be available “to go.”
  • Indoor common areas (with the exception of Pearson’s) will be closed to students. College offices will continue to remain open.
  • Requests for any gatherings must be run through the Pandemic Response Team.
  • Arrangements for off-campus clinical and student teaching placements, and other off-campus work will be detailed in a subsequent communication from the appropriate faculty or staff member.
  • With the exception of students who work as essential employees within departments critical to campus operations, student employment on campus will be temporarily suspended for up to two weeks while the college takes action to control the spread of the virus. Essential personnel include members of the following departments: facilities management, campus safety, Pearson’s Café, payroll (during payroll weeks only), campus life and athletics.

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