President's Email to Students (September 2)

Hey Bears!

We’re wrapping up week three of the fall 2020 semester.

We couldn’t be here without the dedication of our faculty and staff and your commitment to masking and social distancing.

So, just a few numbers to think about. In the last week, 396 members of campus tested positive for COVID-19. Only one of them was a faculty member.

What’s that tell us? Masking in classrooms and campus buildings works. It also works in all other places – but you have to wear your mask.

For the most part, everyone’s doing a great job wearing masks on campus. But we’ve received reports that some of our students aren’t wearing masks when they’re away from campus.

We understand that wearing a mask is not much fun, especially when you’re hanging out with your friends. But there could be negative consequences if we don’t minimize the spread of the virus. More classes will move online, more events will be canceled and restrictions on gatherings will likely increase both on campus and in town.

So, when you leave class, work or an event, and you immediately take off your mask and gather with your friends for a picture or a hug – stop and think about what that could mean. You might be positive with no symptoms and exposing your friends to the virus. They might be positive with no symptoms and exposing you to the virus.

So here’s the thing – if you test positive, you have to isolate for at least 10 days.

If you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive, you have to quarantine for 14 days – because it can take that long for the virus to incubate.

I think we can all agree that the goal should be avoiding isolation or quarantine.

The good news is that most people age 18-22 who get COVID-19 have minor symptoms and recover quickly. But a few have more serious symptoms, are hospitalized and have lingering complications.

We all may come into contact with others who might be more susceptible to having serious illness. We need to do our part to protect ourselves, each other, family members and members of our communities.

This is a shared responsibility -- the ultimate group project. I’m wearing my mask everywhere I go, and I’m asking you to do the same.

So have fun over the long weekend but be safe and wear your mask. We are in it for the long haul and we are depending on you to help us get there.

Clif

Clifton M. Smart III
President