Dear Wake Forest community,
Today, we launch three initiatives being implemented to help keep our community prepared, informed and healthy as we manage day-to-day life this fall. First, we are introducing a color-coded system to designate the operating status of the Reynolda Campus. The operating status will guide adjustments to campus operations to mitigate the spread of detected increases of the virus. Second, a COVID-19 dashboard will track the presence of known, confirmed positive cases in our campus community. Third, we are implementing a weekly surveillance testing program that will be based on a random sample of the student population. Infectious disease experts will analyze test results to gain insight into where we may need to improve our containment strategies.
Campus Operating Status System
Containment of COVID-19 requires a campus community that is committed to working together to reinforce the plans contained in Our Way Forward. To that end, we have developed a color-coded system to provide a summary view of the state of viral infection in our population and our ability to contain it.
Wake Forest will operate in one of five levels during the fall semester. The University, in collaboration with experts in infectious disease and public health, have identified multiple indicators that will be evaluated to monitor current public health conditions in our community. Our operating status will be adjusted in consultation with our medical experts to support the appropriate public health response for containing COVID-19 on campus and engaging the resources needed to mitigate outbreaks.
We will use Wake Alert, the University’s emergency notification system, to inform campus of a change in operating status. Additionally, you can expect messages sharing what changes the new operating status will require and color-coded flags displayed on campus serving as visual reminders. Our current campus operating status is Yellow — New Normal Campus Operations — cases are manageable and transmission is controlled.
Wake Forest’s COVID-19 dashboard will display a daily count of known, confirmed positive cases on campus. COVID-19 cases reported on this dashboard include faculty, staff and students who interact on the Reynolda Campus and have confirmed positive, laboratory-verified test results reported to the University. The dashboard will be updated every weekday.
Confidentiality laws prohibit the University from disclosing any identifying information about affected individuals. Individuals who have tested positive will be isolated, and those identified as having met CDC criteria for exposure will be contacted and advised to quarantine. In the event of a known, confirmed positive case of COVID-19, the University will follow contact tracing and notification protocols as directed by local and state health authorities.
Surveillance testing of undergraduate and graduate students living on campus, in the Winston-Salem area or potentially accessing campus, will inform the dashboard data and provide insight into the spread of the virus.
Starting the week of August 31, Wake Forest will randomly test several hundred students each week to monitor the spread of COVID-19 among the student population. The goal of surveillance testing programs is to identify where additional testing or mitigation strategies are needed. A team of infectious disease experts will analyze our results and make recommendations to the administration.
Students will be notified 72 hours in advance of the start of their testing window. Testing will be located on campus and will offer flexible time slots for students to report to the testing center. Students will not be required to quarantine while awaiting their results and will be notified via email of their results. The test is required and will be administered at no cost to students.
As articulated in the Public Health Emergency Addendum to the Student Code of Conduct and comparable documents within our graduate and professional schools, students are required to comply with all University policies and expectations that are implemented in response to the pandemic. As such, students must participate in random testing when notified. Students will be contacted by text and email when they have been selected for testing. More information will be sent to students as we begin this program.
These three measures will aid our ability to be prepared, stay informed and remain healthy. As we embark on this semester, I ask that we all remain vigilant in practicing the recommended public health guidelines — wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, monitoring symptoms daily, staying six feet apart and refraining from large gatherings. Staying on campus this semester will require the efforts of all of us, and I thank you for doing your part in maintaining the health of our community.
Nathan O. Hatch