April 5: Increased COVID-19 Testing: Daily Testing Required
Dear Merrimack College Community-
With five weeks left in the semester, it has become apparent that COVID-19 is still a great threat to college campuses including ours. Over the past several weeks, there has been a surge of schools in the region who are struggling to control the spread of the virus, and some are finding themselves closing their campuses and moving to remote learning and teaching for weeks at a time. In addition, the UK variant (a variant that is much more contagious) is spreading in Massachusetts, and numbers are rising across the country as we head toward a possible fourth wave. We do not want to shut down our campus this close to the end of the semester potentially impacting Commencement – nor do we want students to get the virus and then miss what could be half of their remaining time on campus this semester.
Merrimack is seeing an uptick in positive cases of COVID-19 on the campus and many members of our community went home to see family over Easter. To help control the spread, all members of the Merrimack Community who come to campus should get tested every day they are on the campus starting today. For most of our community, this will mean getting tested each day this week - 5 tests. We believe this additional COVID-19 testing will add another layer of protection on top of our existing campus mitigation policies and strategies, through the ability to identify, isolate and conduct contact tracing even faster for any identified COVID-19 infection. Please note – Merrimack College will be monitoring who is getting tested and adhering to this new policy. You will be contacted to get tested if you do not do so every day beginning this week.
To accommodate this effort, the testing center is extending its hours and will be open until 7 p.m. for the week. For the additional testing, please visit the testing center at any time from Monday-Friday 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. or Saturday from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
For faculty, staff and students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you still must be tested every day this week. Even if you have been vaccinated you can still contract COVID-19. It is unknown if those who have been vaccinated and test positive if they can pass it onto others. Therefore it is important for those who have been vaccinated continue to remain vigilant.
Additionally, we want to note that some of our recent positive cases are repeat positives – meaning some individuals who tested positive in the fall have tested positive again this semester. We want to remind students that it is possible to become reinfected. Having COVID-19 in the past does not mean that you are immune to contracting or possibly spreading COVID-19.
As of today, all Massachusetts residents with one comorbidity can sign up for the vaccine and on Monday, April 19 all residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We urge all those who are eligible to sign up to get vaccinated.
We are not out of the woods yet and we must continue our efforts to social distance, wear face coverings at all times, and to practice good hygiene.
If you have any questions please contact the Task Force.