Last Tuesday morning, on September 29, President Wendy Raymond sent an email to the student body sharing how Haverford had fared in its first round of mass testing. Ending on September 24, this round saw 1,043 students get tested. Of these, two Haverford students tested positive, which constituted a positivity rate lower than 0.2%, as reflected by Haverford’s COVID portal.
Raymond’s email indicated that 980 students were present on campus while 121 were off campus and commuting, comprising a total of 1101 students. Since 1,043 were tested, The Clerk reached out to Interim Dean of the College Joyce Bylander about the disparity.
Bylander shared that the difference exists due to a handful of students who moved off campus and went remote around the testing phase. In her email to The Clerk on October 2, she reinforced the school’s approach towards testing, emphasizing that “Students who fail to get tested, who live on or want to come to campus, will be asked to leave or have their OneCards disabled. Testing is not optional.”
The two students who tested positive were asked to quarantine alongside their close contacts who were identified via contact tracing. These included both of the students’ residential suites, and while some of these students chose to quarantine on campus, others were picked up by their parents. Those quarantining on campus continue to attend classes remotely, have food delivered to their quarantine pods by the Dining Center staff, and are checked on by members of the HEART team, which is an additional resource for support and guidance brought onboard by the college in light of the pandemic.
When asked about the chances of these students’ test results being false positives, Bylander responded: “We do not believe so. But we followed the CDC guidelines of treating these students as presumptive positives. The test we use has one of the highest levels of reliability and it was administered by a health professional. So we have faith in the process and the test.”
However, according to the suitemates of one of the students who initially tested positive, the student has tested negative since moving off campus. Since the PCR tests used by the college can only detect active COVID cases, the subsequent negative results could have been because the student recovered, or the original test may have been a false positive.
While the rate of infection remained lower than the expectations of some, others were still anxious about the virus having penetrated the Haverbubble. “All I could think of when I saw the dashboard was that if those cases were not false positives, I should start planning my trip home,” recounted João Pedro Carvalho ’22.
With this round of testing having drawn to a close, the school has begun preparation for the next round, which is scheduled to last from October 5 to October 8. Conducted in Founders Hall, the test is administered by healthcare professionals, and uses an online reservation system to avoid large crowds accumulating at once. All students are expected to comply with the testing policy in order to preserve their residential and OneCard privileges.