Rules for social gatherings tightened, off-campus travel discouraged
Posted: October 16, 2020
Thanksgiving – and the end of the semester – is tantalizingly close. I can almost taste the turkey and yet these next five weeks will likely present more challenges in addition to what we have endured during the past 10 weeks. COVID-19 is on the rise in Erie and Hillsborough counties and across the nation, and we ourselves have seen acutely how off-campus travel and breaches in safe behaviors can have consequences for those involved and others inadvertently close to them.
So many of you are taking responsibility for your own actions and carefully following the guidelines even when you wish you could be free to do as you please. Thank you for those efforts. That level of commitment is required by all, and it avoids anyone putting their friends in uncomfortable situations. Your effective use of the LiveSafe reporting system has helped in this effort to hold each other accountable and for keeping us together as one Gannon family.
With the rising numbers of cases in the communities around us, now is the time to tighten the size of your close group and to limit travel and the number of people with whom you visit. The past month has shown that those who move from group to group and travel away from campus risk exposing themselves to COVID-19 and are at an increased risk of becoming a “close contact” to someone with COVID-19. Those who attend large gatherings are at an even greater risk to themselves and others.
Students who attended events off campus and visited friends at other universities two weeks ago developed COVID-19 and some of them and their unfortunate close contacts are still in quarantine today. The impact of those quarantines had significant negative repercussions for other students’ academic and personal lives.
Those experiences serve as reminders that we all need to follow the established protocols and to be completely honest in reporting incidents and answering the questions surrounding reported incidents to avoid violations to our student code of conduct and, of course, because it is the right and ethical thing to do.
To improve the odds of keeping us in-community through the end of the semester, here is a reminder of our guidance regarding gathering limits and off-campus travel.
- The university’s limit for social gatherings at off-campus residences in Erie is no more than 15 people, including the residents of the home. If a social gathering has more than 15 people in attendance, the event will be closed and could result in the suspension of the individuals renting the house and university sanctions for those attending.
- Social gatherings of 15 or fewer people that are considered to be unsafe (no masks being worn, too many people for the space, etc.) will also be broken up by campus police officers and participants will be required to meet with the student conduct office to discuss disciplinary sanctions.
- In on-campus housing, similar restrictions apply and gatherings of more students than can be accommodated by the capacity of the unit to ensure social distancing for all participants will result in testing and disciplinary action for all in attendance.
- Effective immediately, we are discouraging travel out of the home counties for each of our campuses (Erie and Hillsborough counties). We cannot ban travel, but we do expect students to report their essential travel and will require that you be tested on your return and will restrict your access to on-campus classes until we are confident you do not present a health threat to others. If you travel outside these counties, please report your travel through LiveSafe.
We know that the vast majority of our family members are adhering to the protocols and respecting the safety and health of others in community. And, like you, we wish these measures were not necessary. But we are learning from our experiences and the past two months have taught us the inherent threats of broadening our social circles and traveling outside of our “bubble.”
Now is the time for all of us to double down on our safe behaviors. Wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance. Also, use good judgment. If a friend has recently traveled out of our community, keep your distance. Avoid large gatherings and gatherings with people unfamiliar to your typical circles.
Our goal is to finish the semester healthy. These next few weeks are critical to allowing us to achieve this.
Seeing you back on campus these past few months has been an inspiring reminder that life can move forward in the middle of a pandemic. It has been wonderful to see you enjoying campus and each other even within the context of these restrictions.
I am grateful for these past several months with you all and look forward to the coming weeks this fall – and to returning for another round in January for the spring semester.
You are making us all proud and are exceeding all expectations that we and others had for us. Stay strong Golden Knights and let’s win our seat at the Thanksgiving table.
Dr. Keith Taylor,