COVID-19 Update: September 27, 2021

Monday, September 27, 2021

Dear Saints,

The COVID-19 pandemic with the current Delta variant is making a significant push across the United States, including Montana and here in Lewis and Clark County. Our hospitals locally and across the state are either at or near full capacity with several having had to transition to crisis standards of care. The VA hospital at Fort Harrison has taken an unprecedented move to accept non-veteran patients. Hospital ICUs and acute care units are full and some are getting close to making life and death decisions based on resources and demands. I have pasted some links to recent articles about this crisis at the bottom of this letter.

Cases and concerns are rising here on campus and I am asking each of our campus community members to step up to protect each other until this surge passes. As of Friday evening, we have 12 active cases among our students and two among our faculty and staff. This is up from two on Monday. We must do everything we can to curb the spread of this variant before it becomes out of control.

The pandemic presents a risk to us and I have confidence that we as Saints can and will do the right things to protect each other and our community – it’s what Saints do – it is what we need to do!  

Over the past few days, I have sought input from a wide variety of sources both on and off campus, with students being the most important group for me to reach out to via ASCC. I have listened, discerned, and prayed and have now made a decision for moving forward.

We have all relished the fact that we are here at Carroll and in person this semester. I know no one wants to go back to a remote delivery environment – that is not the Carroll experience we all know, love, and desire. Everyone on our campus can and must make decisions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Please help protect yourself and others.

Effective September 28, Carroll’s COVID-19 temporary response includes:

  • All students, faculty, or staff testing positive will isolate until released by Lewis and Clark Public Health or the Carroll Wellness Center.
  • All close contacts will wear a mask for 10 days and take a COVID-19 test three days after the last contact with the COVID-positive person.
  • All Carroll employees will be required to wear masks indoors and in office areas where they are less than six feet apart from other individuals.
  • All students and faculty will continue to wear masks in classrooms, labs, and instructional areas. The library and public spaces in instructional and administrative buildings will be added as an area requiring masks.
  • Masks will be required in the Campus Center (with the exception of those who are actively eating and drinking).  
  • Masks will be required for spectators for all indoor athletic events and indoor public events and meetings (receptions, lectures, plays, etc.).
  • The HAC will temporarily resume a more reduced capacity to create space between recreators.
  • We will ensure all classrooms, labs, and meeting rooms have disposable masks and hand sanitizers available.

In addition, we will be working with faculty, ASCC, Sodexo, and other local and campus partners to mitigate the spread through the following:

  • Faculty will continue to work individually with COVID-19 impacted students to ensure that they are able to keep up with class material.  
  • Provide grab and go options for students who do not wish to eat in the dining hall.
  • Create more distance between tables in the Campus Center and dining areas.
  • Encourage students to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and eat and recreate outside as much as possible.
  • Develop more safe outdoor events on campus to encourage students to stay on campus, including inviting food trucks to come on specific days or evenings.
  • Improve accommodations and food for students in isolation.
  • Encourage more student vaccinations and testing (including possible additional clinics on campus as well as providing information on nearby clinic/pharmacy sites).
  • Asking students to please take precautions including the strong consideration of wearing masks and social distancing as much as possible while in residence halls, campus nooks/sitting areas, recreating, or in worship services.

Finally, I ask that you respect all individuals on our campus and in our greater community. There are numerous reasons why someone may be concerned about the COVID-19 virus and need to take extra precautions, including personal health reasons. Please understand and do everything within your power to create a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. 

I look forward to a wonderful year of in-person instruction and promise that once transmission levels in our county decrease and remain there, we will update and relax these requests and requirements. Please join me in prayer for each other, for our health, for those who are suffering, and most especially, for those who work in healthcare.

Blessings and thank you for being a Saint!

John E. Cech, Ph.D.