Ithaca College has moved to alert level orange after seeing an uptick in positive COVID cases over the past 24 hours. Shifting from Yellow: Low to Moderate Risk to Orange: Moderate Risk means that incidence of COVID-19 has increased substantially and is more widespread in our community.
Through contact tracing measures and further analysis of the data available to us, Ithaca College has identified the primary source of this latest surge in positive cases among the student population as being from large unstructured off-campus social gatherings occurring during the weekend of Dec. 10-12. In particular, many of the latest positive cases have been tied to the Santacon off-campus event held on Saturday, Dec. 11.
According to the school, there has been no indication of spread tied to the structured in-person academic experience and final exams occurring over the past week. Incidence of COVID-19 among faculty and staff remains minimal at this time, indicating that transmission is being mitigated in structured settings where good public health policies are being strictly followed.
Ithaca College is also monitoring the spread of the omicron variant throughout the greater Tompkins County area. At this time, preliminary evidence has shown that this highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus has been present in a significant number of the positive test samples identified at Cornell University and Ithaca College leadership suspects that this variant has also played a contributing factor in the surge in cases among Ithaca College students. Ithaca College continues to evaluate its positive cases to confirm evidence of the Omicron variant.
To date, positive cases identified at Ithaca College have been accompanied with generally mild symptoms and the school continues to see no incidence of severe illness requiring hospitalization among the student population.
No changes will be made to final exams this week but the college is strongly encouraging students who are returning home for winter break to do so as soon as they've completed their exams and coursework. Students are encouraged to continue monitoring their health for potential symptoms, observe a voluntary quarantine upon their return to their permanent address, and seek out testing opportunities in their home area to confirm negative status.
Students currently experiencing active symptoms should seek out a COVID-19 test at Emerson Hall, open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., prior to engaging in any travel plans. Residential students who test positive will continue to receive support from Ithaca College regarding potential isolation and devising an approved travel and isolation plan should students seek a return to their permanent address to complete their mandatory isolation period.
Travel by outside parties to the Ithaca College campus is not permitted at this time, except for picking up students to leave for Winter Break.
All social gatherings on campus will remain suspended until further notice.
Ithaca College residence halls will close as scheduled at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16. Residential students who have been approved to remain on campus during the winter break must remain in their designated room assignment. Visitation between residence communities and within individual rooms is not permitted. Students should not move about the campus except for meal retrieval or solitary outdoor exercise. All common areas are closed until further notice.
Students who have made prior arrangements to depart late or remain in their campus apartment during winter break may still do so, but services will be limited. The school strongly encourages anyone who is able to leave for winter break to do so.
Shared on-campus spaces including the Library, Fitness Center and Wellness Clinic will be closed to all activities until further notice.