New strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, 4:43 p.m.

Dear Miami Community:

Late last week, we saw an increase in COVID-19 cases. We have just over six weeks remaining in our semester, and we must step up our efforts to reduce the spread of the virus on and off campus.

With a larger number of the COVID-19 cases coming from the residence halls, we have implemented two new strategies. First, a broader face covering requirement was instituted on campus. This includes wearing face coverings both inside and outside on campus.

Second, we installed a very cautious and stringent assessment and testing strategy in the residence halls. A color scheme was devised with testing protocols to help us assess the number of positive cases and where the cases were within the residential halls (i.e., the floors). The color coding of the halls on the dashboard website identifies positive cases in halls. Most halls are still in the yellow and orange category; meaning zero to two positive cases on a given floor over the past seven days; red means at least three positive cases on a floor over the past seven days; and purple means at least 5% of the floor’s residents tested positive over the past seven days.  In all cases, we isolate students who test positive and quarantine elsewhere those who were in close contact with a positive case.

It should be noted that if a hall is denoted as red on the website, for example, that means at least one floor is red. It does not necessarily mean all floors are red. We are reporting the highest floor assessment for the entire hall.

Students who remain on floors that are purple are asked to remain in their room. Those students are then tested every other day. Once new cases are back to a low (orange) level and stay that way for at least 4 days, the floors will come off purple status. The strategy is to immediately relocate those who test positive and those with whom they have been in close contact, and to keep all remaining students in place on that floor until they test out.

Our testing strategy over the past several weeks has been very aggressive, with surveillance and wide-net testing. However, we decided to move forward with this even more aggressive strategy. Because of this approach, we will see more positive cases moving forward, but it enables us to isolate and quarantine in a much more efficient way. This more aggressive strategy has already begun.

We have worked closely with public health professionals and epidemiologists every step of the way. To help protect our campus, we are instituting a few more immediate requirements:

  • Even when outside, wear your masks. This is required on campus. Walking in groups without physical distancing or masks puts you and others at risk of contracting and spreading the virus. 
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet and groups of no more than 10 are the state requirements. However, in smaller spaces, such as in residence halls we are recommending any gathering be limited to no more than one guest per room resident. 

Please keep in mind that our protocols, guidance, and ordinances are put in place to protect you as well as the Miami and local communities.

This is a very critical time for us with a little over six weeks to go for our in-person and hybrid courses. We need your help and compliance. Please do your part to ensure we have a successful semester. The health of our campuses and our communities are relying on each of us. The Office of Student Life will be following up with all students regarding the new strategies in place and expectations.

In Love and Honor,

Gregory P. Crawford