September 3, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Family Members:
Now that we have officially begun the new academic year, I wanted to provide you with some information and updates. But before I do so, let me first tell you how grateful I am for the hard work and obvious commitment that I’ve seen demonstrated throughout our community over these past several weeks. While it has taken some adjustment and trial-and-error, people have clearly taken the need to care for themselves and each other very seriously, and it shows. So let me begin by saying, “thank you.” Thank you for your commitment to health, safety and welfare in the face of this pandemic.
At the same time, it is important for me to know that a team of people have been actively working since before the academic year began, to identify and support students and employees who have either tested positive for COVID-19, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms. Since August 24th, which was the first day of class for the School of Law, as of today we have received reports of four (4) confirmed positive cases, three of whom are currently self-isolating in off-campus residences, and one who was isolating on-campus but since has been cleared. We also have a number of students who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, and are self-quarantining and awaiting test results, both on- and off-campus.
As students who have been on campus are aware, we have been making COVID-19 testing available for on-campus and off-campus students continuously since August 18th. Of the nearly 1,500 tests for which results have thus far been received, one (1) came back positive (and that student is currently isolating), and one (1) was inconclusive and ultimately negative. We really appreciate students’ willingness to participate in our testing efforts, and will continue to respond and support as results are received.
I share this information with you for three reasons. First, it is important to realize that this highly-transmissible virus is active and is continuing to infect and affect members of our campus community. We all need to continue to be vigilant and not let our guard down, especially during these early weeks of the semester.
In a particular way, I want to thank all those students who live both on-campus and especially off-campus, for curbing parties and keeping gatherings small. We can see that everyone is making a real effort and we, and the local Health District, truly appreciate you for doing so. As we move into the Labor Day weekend, I want to again ask for your help in continuing to help us and one another by keeping gatherings small, wearing face coverings, and caring for each other. There are lots of ways of relaxing, getting out and enjoying the warm weather this weekend. Just remember to continue to be safe and recognize that the Coronavirus is active in many places in our local area and region.
Second, today we have published a new webpage on the Gonzaga “Zag On 2020” website, which lists the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases we have seen at Gonzaga, since the first reportable case of a GU employee who had been on campus, on July 17th. We will continue to update and further develop this webpage on a regular basis.
Third, next week we will introduce a new phase of COVID-19 testing on campus, and here I really want to ask for your support. The task of trying to identify and support members of our community who have contracted the virus requires continuous and ongoing monitoring. We are going to be reaching out to a sample of randomly-selected students each week and ask that they be tested, at no cost to the individual. This approach will help us understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and we ask for your assistance and support in this effort. If you are contacted, please respond and help us work together to get on top of this disease.
I want to remind you that there are many people who want to support you as we continue along the journey of this semester. Don’t forget, the “ZagOn 2020” webpage has all kinds of resources. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Health and Counseling Center if you think you are having symptoms, need support, or want to express your concern for another student. We are all susceptible to becoming ill, and even as we try to keep ourselves healthy, we also need to be there for one another if we get sick.
Again – I just want you to know how grateful I am to be a part of a community that has taken this pandemic so seriously. It is obvious that we all want this to be the safest and most successful semester we can possibly have. Don’t hesitate to reach out if there is something you need: Be safe, be smart, and remember, Zags Help Zags. Thank you.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.