By Katie Hughes ’22 and Lyvia Yan ’23
On February 26, Dean Bylander announced the College’s return to Level 1 of the Bi-Co Mitigation Plan. Following two weeks of heightened precautions as students returned to campus after winter break, this return to Level 1 came just as predicted in previous messaging regarding the delayed start to the semester.
As outlined in Bylander’s email, Haverford’s COVID-19 cases remain remarkably low, with only four total positive tests among faculty and students since the beginning of the semester. Despite the low case count on campus, Bylander reminded us that we remain vulnerable, due to both the increased prevalence of COVID-19 variants and the ability for a few COVID-19 cases to spiral into a more serious situation.
To mitigate this threat, the Haverford administration has responded to violations of COVID-19 policy with campus-wide restrictions. This has occurred on two occasions, with the most recent being a five-day period at the beginning of this semester in which Haverford moved to Level 3 of the Mitigation Plan. Effectively, this meant students had to stay in their single rooms except to get food or participate in individual outdoor exercise. Leaving campus was forbidden.
During the fall semester, the College opted for a similar approach, briefly putting campus into Level 2 of the Mitigation Plan. In both of these instances, the decision to tighten restrictions was based on reports of rule violations rather than the metrics that indicate the prevalence of COVID-19 at Haverford. In fact, the COVID-19 dashboard reveals that among the roughly 1,000 students living on campus or commuting, there have been a total of ten positive tests since September 2020.
Under Level 1, students are permitted to attend in person classes and have a single, masked Bi-Co guest in their room on campus. Students may leave campus for groceries or other essentials, but are prohibited from dining indoors or visiting gyms. The library is open for socially-distant studying, and small groups are able to meet both inside and outside, so long as they comply with capacity restrictions and distancing requirements.