Since the opening of Andover on August 23, community results from the first three weeks of COVID-19 testing revealed that out of all 3,017 tests, there was one positive case from a student and one positive case among faculty members, along with ten indeterminate cases from faculty. According to Jennifer Elliott ’94, P ’21, ’24, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students, these numbers were lower than expected and have been monitored with continuous testing.
“Our community is doing really well with COVID-19 testing. Folks are being responsible and compliant, and the [Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center] team has done an incredible job orchestrating it all. We’re pleased that the numbers have remained low and manageable. Though 12 cases were either positive or indeterminate, the remaining 3,005 [community members] have tested negative,” said Elliott.
In preventing further spread within campus, Elliott noted that community members who either tested positive or have been in physical contact with people who have tested positive isolated themselves until being cleared of symptoms. The administration additionally plans on providing local accommodations for boarding students who are not within driving distance of Andover, according to its email sent to all Andover families.
Elliott said, “In cases where there have been or will be positive results, we will isolate that person outside of the dormitory for a [boarding] student, at home for a day student, and for faculty members, within their residence. Anyone that has [COVID-19] will do contact tracing, so anyone who’s had direct contact will need to quarantine, and we’ll continue to monitor symptoms and test [results].”
Students Sam Lasater ’21 and Jaeho Lee ’24 have attributed the low number of positive cases to both the school and students’ efforts to take precautions for COVID-19. Though Lee found that testing during registration seemed inconvenient at first, he acknowledged the importance of limiting exposure.
Lee said, “Personally, [the testing results] make me feel safe, as it’s only two out of thousands, and the school has taken steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other people. Although registration was a lot longer than expected, the hassle was definitely worth it since the first round of testing revealed cases of [COVID-19] that would otherwise have spread throughout campus.”
In an email to The Phillipian, Lasater wrote, “I’m not bothered by the two positive [COVID-19] cases at the opening of school. Frankly, I expected more, especially considering all the travel that was required to have so many boarders on campus. It really could have been much worse, so I’m fairly pleased with the quarantine rules on campus thus far.”
Currently, Andover is testing all students on campus at least three times during the first two weeks of quarantine through a combination of antigen and PCR methods. According to Elliott, the administration and the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center are working towards continuing testing on a weekly basis.
Elliott said, “Right now, we are on track to do [COVID-19] testing every week for our entire community, which is really remarkable and we’re really feeling very fortunate. I am grateful to the Sykes team and the administration for providing support and resources in order to be able to provide access to testing for our whole community. [Dr. Amy Patel, Medical Director and Co-Director of Wellness Education] has worked closely with folks on campus and off to develop our protocols and practices on campus.”
Based on further results, Elliott hopes that the second cohort of Lowers and Uppers will return to campus in October, following the return of day students.
“We’re really hoping that Lowers and Uppers will be able to come back on October 10 to 11. We’ll have more information once we are able to welcome back our [Junior] through [Senior] day students, hopefully next week,” said Elliott.
Zoe Chen ’23 also hopes that students will follow Andover’s safety protocols so that all students can enjoy living in a safe environment.
“I just hope that we can all do our part to take social-distancing seriously to minimize the spread and the number of cases so that, ultimately, everyone will be able to return to campus safely,” said Chen.