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Berry College closing to the public after student tests positive for COVID-19

July 15th, 2020 – 5:00 PM

Berry College –

The following public address was released by Berry College President Steve Briggs on Wednesday:

“We have recorded our first case of a student testing positive for COVID-19. The student was asymptomatic when tested and is now isolating off-campus. Through contact tracing, others at risk due to direct contact have been notified to quarantine. In most cases, the only people who need to quarantine are those with physical contact or close contact (within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes). That determination is made by appropriate campus officials in cooperation with local public health authorities. (See link to infographic under menu: COVID-19 Guidance Chart.)

Given the current levels of prevalence, we can expect additional cases to occur at Berry as in other communities. This is our fourth campus case, including earlier instances involving an employee and two campus visitors. In order to keep the campus updated as new cases occur, we are adding to our coronavirus website a table that will provide information regarding confirmed cases on a regular basis:

In related news, on Monday night the Rome City Commission voted to require the wearing of face coverings in public settings. Although we are not within the city jurisdiction the college was prepared to implement a similar policy beginning August 1st in preparation for the fall school semester.

In cooperation with the City, and given the increased prevalence of the coronavirus locally as well as these two new cases on campus, the college will require suitable face coverings in all public contexts on campus effective Thursday, July 16. The policy will continue until further notice.

The policy requires a face covering in any public context: classrooms, academic and administrative buildings, Krannert, Cage Center, the Library, residence hall common areas and hallways, or campus offices. Face coverings are also required in open air areas if people are not separated by at least six feet.

Face coverings may be removed in personal settings (offices, residence hall rooms) if no one else is present. Face coverings may be removed for dining, personal hygiene and personal recreation, but with a required six feet of separation. Immediate family members living on campus are exempted from this policy in private or personal contexts.

To facilitate this policy and the safety of the campus more generally, the campus will close to general visitors effective also on Wednesday, July 15. The campus will continue to host prospective students and their families. For the next 30 days, campus residents who wish to host off-campus guests must register them in advance with the Welcome Center. Please use this request form:

As a reminder:

Students who have any questions about their risk or symptoms should contact the Student Health Center or the Dean of Students Offices. Faculty or staff should contact Human Resources. Your health information is not shared beyond professionals in the Health Center or the Human Resources Office.

Your care provider (local doctors for faculty and staff, the Health Center for students) are our best resources. An isolated symptom does not necessarily mean you need to be tested. Medical and public health professionals will provide the best guidance to help you navigate appropriate steps to take if you are ill or concerned.

When a person has been positively identified, the college will:

Follow guidance from public health officials.
Instruct the person to self-isolate.
Restrict access to the area occupied by that person until it is cleaned and thoroughly disinfected.
Contact people (as instructed) with whom that person has had close contact and recommend that they self-quarantine. Health professionals contact these persons while maintaining confidentiality.
Post the confirmed case on the website:
Although some may find these policies inconvenient and frustrating, by embracing them we significantly increase the likelihood that we can function effectively and safely as a residential community. These measures become a tangible way that we serve and care for one another.”