COVID-19 cases increasing at Brandeis

March 18, 2021

Dear Students,

As Brandeisians, we can do better than this.

Brandeis’ COVID positivity rate is ratcheting upward, with undergraduates representing nearly all new cases. Our positivity rate is worse than the state’s higher education average - and currently, more students are in quarantine or isolation than we have seen at any other point since beginning our testing program in July  

Students who have recently travelled (both authorized and unauthorized) or who attended off-campus social gatherings account for the majority of these new cases. Even more problematic is that these newly COVID-positive students are reporting high numbers of close contacts, sometimes more than a dozen each. In each case, students who are close contacts of these COVID-positive students are being required to quarantine-in-place for at least 10 days.  

If this trend continues, instead of students being able to enjoy spring weather and gatherings outdoors, Brandeis will be forced to tighten restrictions in order to limit further spread.  If we do not see a rapid reversal of this trend, we will have no choice but to lock the campus down: decreasing in-person gathering limits, cancelling planned gatherings, and switching to remote courses as other campuses, such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, recently implemented. These are not threats - they are measures the University is prepared to take as necessary to protect our community’s health.

Students may face discipline, up to and including expulsion, for violation of COVID health and safety requirements. COVID-positive students and their close contacts must follow all requirements of the Brandeis Health Center and Brandeis Community Tracing Program personnel, including quarantine and isolation guidelines, or they, too, will face discipline.

Additionally, students feeling ill or those concerned about an exposure and students in isolation or quarantine ARE NOT PERMITTED at the Testing Sites: contact the Health Center.

Finally, with several spring religious holidays approaching, students are reminded of Brandeis’ travel policy, which prohibits out-of-state travel, except in emergencies, and only with approval from the Dean of Students Office. Also, please note that no guests, including family members, are allowed on campus.

We are so close to widely available vaccines and to life returning to a “new normal”. We must not give in to a false sense of security, no matter how weary we are: COVID-19 continues to spread, and to be an extremely serious disease. New variants are circulating throughout Massachusetts and are present on college campuses. Students can and do become seriously ill. They can also spread it to more vulnerable members of the community.

For so much of the year, our students, faculty and staff have demonstrated the social solidarity and the self-discipline necessary to keep our campus positivity rates extremely low and to maintain as many in-person elements of the Brandeis experience as possible. I urge you to buckle down, recommit to wearing your mask, staying physically distant, and keeping your contacts to a minimum — we’re almost there! Let’s reverse this trend and keep COVID away from our campus to keep one another healthy.  

Raymond Lu-Ming Ou
Vice President of Student Affairs