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COVID-19 Status Update — 3/12/2020

Posted: March 12, 2020

In light of recent developments regarding the novel coronavirus, Thomas Aquinas College is taking additional steps to minimize the disease’s potential effects on our two campuses.

In California, two Ventura County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. These diagnoses mark the first confirmed cases of infection in the county, but because neither is the result of community transmission, authorities still regard the risk to the public as low. In New England, as of Tuesday night the number of presumed infections in Massachusetts had grown to 95. There are still no infections in Franklin County, and the risk to the campus remains low.

Nonetheless, out of concern for the wellbeing students, faculty, staff, and guests — and in the interest of doing everything possible to slow the spread of the disease and complete the academic year — the College is implementing the following precautionary measures, based on suggestions from public-health authorities:

  1. Continuing to emphasize preventative actions for students, faculty, and staff, such as exercising good hygiene and staying away from work/school when sick
  2. Encouraging students, faculty, and staff to undertake moderate social-distancing measures designed to minimize exposure to large groups or crowds — e.g., avoiding air travel and unnecessary trips to public events and heavily trafficked areas
  3. Prohibiting visitors who exhibit signs of respiratory infection or who have a high fever
  4. Prohibiting visitors who, within the last 14 days, have traveled to areas identified by the CDC as having a Level 3 Travel Health Notice
  5. Prohibiting visitors who, within the last 14 days, have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  6. Asking all other guests, friends, prospective students, contractors, etc. to postpone any unnecessary visits until further notice. Although we are unable to welcome friends of the College at the Masses in our campus chapels, we are praying for their intentions and look forward to welcoming them back as soon as possible. 
  7. Accelerating the academic calendar by moving up the dates for Senior Thesis Defenses (California only) and possibly revising some seminar and tutorial schedules.

Additionally, College officials will meet with the student body on both campuses during the lunch period on Thursday, March 12, to discuss health and safety procedures. Although local officials have thus far not implemented widespread testing for COVID-19 in either region, the College’s physicians will work with them to test students who are symptomatic, should the need arise. Likewise, the College is preparing isolation/quarantine rooms should they become necessary. In the meantime, any student who believes he or she may be infected should contact a prefect via telephone.

Should circumstances or public-health recommendations change, the College will update its response accordingly. The most up-to-date information will always be available at thomasaquinas.edu/coronavirus.

On Wednesday the chaplains of Thomas Aquinas College began reciting, at every Mass, a Novena to St. Joseph which will conclude on his feast day, March 19. Please join us in this prayer for the safety of the Thomas Aquinas College community, the health of those who are most vulnerable, and for all public-health officials who are working to contain the coronavirus.