Smith College A Culture of Care

February 15 Weekly CIRT Campus Update

Letters to the Community
February 15, 2021

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Below, please find important campus, regional and national updates from the COVID-19 Incident Response Team (CIRT).

Important Updates

We’d like to begin by recognizing the extraordinary efforts our students have taken to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in the Smith community. From the outdoor, distanced meal circles to the “I LOVE YOUR MASK” window decoration, our students’ partnership in upholding a culture of care is clear across campus.

We’ve heard from a few students and employees that six feet of distance can be hard to visualize, so Greta Mundt ’21 found some references to help you out!

 keep one Baskin Owl, one St. Francis or one gazebo bench apart" with an image of each. A distance marker of six feet is overlaid on each image.

 

Campus Status

The campus is currently operating in blue mode. For an explanation of the college’s color-coded operating modes, please visit Status & Operating Modes.

Over the past seven days, there have been 5 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported through the on-campus campus screening program. For more data on the screening program, please visit Coronavirus Screening. Cases in the US and Massachusetts continue to trend downward.

As a reminder, our next all-community meeting is this Wednesday, February 17, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. at https://smith.zoom.us/j/93293837876. A smith login is required. We look forward to seeing you there!

PolicyPath App

Later this week, we will be rolling out an app called PolicyPath for daily use by participants in Smith's asymptomatic COVID-19 screening program. A web version is also available for those who do not have smartphones. This app is a way to check your COVID-19 test results. It also asks you to verify important daily practices, an important part of our COVID-19 compliance practice. More information will come by email from the testing and tracing program.

UMass Amherst Update

UMass Amherst continues to operate in “high-risk” operational mode which requires students on and off campus to stay in place. The good news is that new cases at UMass Amherst are trending down, and we continue to monitor the situation. You can view the UMass COVID Dashboard at this link.

CDC masking update

The CDC updated their guidance on masking based on new research.

The new research shows that wearing a mask that fits tightly to your face can help limit the spread of COVID-19. Further research also suggests that multiple layers also helps slow transmission. Multiple layers can be a result of masks that have multiple layers, or multiple masks. You can read more about this research at this link.

A recent story on National Public Radio summarized the recommendations this way:

  • Choose a mask with a nose wire, which prevents air from leaking out along the top
  • Use a mask fitter or brace over a disposable or cloth mask to prevent air from leaking out. These small, reusable devices cinch a cloth or medical mask to create a tighter fit and improve mask performance.
  • Make sure your mask fits snugly over your nose, mouth and chin: "If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath," the CDC says.
  • Add layers of material — either by using a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask.

Vaccines

Massachusetts has expanded vaccine eligibility to individuals accompanying someone age 75 or over to their vaccination appointment at one of four mass vaccination locations. These individuals can make an appointment to be vaccinated at the same location on the same day as the 75+ individual they are accompanying. More information about this new program is on the mass.gov website.

Please send any questions to covid19info@smith.edu.

COVID-19 Incident Response Team (CIRT)
covid19info@smith.edu