Two day students and one campus dependent have tested positive for Covid-19, according to an email from Medical Director Dr. Amy Patel and Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington on Thursday, October 22. Contact tracing began immediately after the positive test results were reported, and all three individuals and close contacts are currently in isolation in their homes. None of the individuals or their close contacts reside in a dorm.
According to Patel and Kington, the new cases reflect the recent increase of Covid-19 cases in the surrounding area and the state of Massachusetts. Essex County, which includes the Town of Andover, maintains the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases of all of the counties in the state.
“Three new cases are consistent with the rise in infections seen in communities around us. They also prompt us to review our own protocols and guidance aimed at keeping the campus community safe,” wrote Patel and Kington.
In response to the new cases, day students will be tested three times per week instead of two.
“We have decided to require day students to increase their frequency of testing. Beginning the week of October 25, all day students will be tested three times a week on campus. Testing will occur on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” wrote Patel and Kington.
Cato Legaspi ’22, a day student from Cohort 2, agrees with the increase in testing frequency for day students. Legaspi hopes that day students follow all health protocols and make good and safe use of their access to campus.
“I think that increased testing is always a positive thing. It is important for the school to have the most accurate information so it can catch any positive cases sooner rather than later. It is a privilege for day students to be on campus, so it’s only fair that they should be tested more frequently,” wrote Legaspi in an email to The Phillipian.
The new cases are Andover’s first positive Covid-19 cases since the week of September 6, according to the Covid-19 testing dashboard on the Andover website. Currently, Andover comprises 518 boarding students, 318 day students, and 380 remote students, according to Patel and Kington. Quarantine ended for Cohort 2 on Tuesday, October 20, and in-person classes began on Wednesday, October 21.
Patel and Kington stressed that all students on campus must continue to follow the Non Sibi Safety Pledge. Students found in violation of any procedures outlined in the pledge, such as masking outside of dorm pods and social distancing, will be sent home.
“As a reminder, all boarding and day students must abide by the Non Sibi Safety Pledge. Anyone found in violation of any element of the pledge will move to remote learning for the rest of the fall term…. Over the next several days, we will continue to think about our community health protocols and determine whether data and emerging evidence suggest that additional changes are necessary,” wrote Patel and Kington.
Jennifer Elliott ’94, Associate Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students, reiterated some of the specific expectations in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Elliott said, “We expect that community members will follow the [Non Sibi Safety Pledge]. We expect that day students who reside off campus will practice all masking, distancing, and hand-hygiene expectations. We expect [that] boarders will not order food deliveries, host visitors, or go downtown. We will continue testing our campus community two to three times a week. Every week, we revise community expectations based upon relevant on and off-campus data, trends, and guidelines.”
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 29, 2020, by Alma Mark-Fong and Bianca Morales.