Increase in COVID numbers cause lockdown
WESTFIELD- Westfield State University has entered a two-week lockdown due to a rise in the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus that were discovered in the latest round of mandatory testing.
The shelter-in-place order is in effect Nov. 5 until at least Nov. 19 at 8 a.m.
In a letter to students, Westfield State’s Interim President Dr. Roy H. Saigo said that in-person classes will be cancelled for Nov. 5 and 6, while online classes will continue during that time. A transition from in-person to online learning will take place starting Monday, Nov. 9 to allow classes that are currently in-person to continue through the shelter-in-place.
He said in an additional letter Nov. 3 that the new confirmed cases include eight residential students and 25 commuters. The residential students are quarantining in Lansdowne Place, while the commuters are quarantining in their own off-campus residences.
“Given this rise in positive cases, Westfield State leadership and the Emergency Response Team’s Recovery Team met last evening. The decision has been made to activate the portion of the University’s Curtailment Plan that calls for a temporary pause of on-campus activities. We have been in touch with the director of the City of Westfield’s Health Department, who is supportive of this action,” stated Saigo.
In the letter he said that students already being quarantined in Lansdowne Place in Westfield’s downtown are experiencing a range of symptoms from no symptoms at all to more severe symptoms. Nobody being quarantined in the building has yet required hospitalization.
Saigo said that the shelter-in-place order is meant to create a “bubble” on campus to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While the order is in place, the campus is closed to visitors and personnel that are not considered critical for COVID-19 business operations.
Students will be largely confined to their residence halls except to pick up on campus meals and for individual outdoor exercise.
Westfield State residents will be prohibited from leaving campus during this period. Exceptions include travel to and from campus for academic requirements or for off campus employment. Should a student who leaves campus not meet these exceptions, they will not be permitted to return to campus until the shelter-in-place is lifted.
Commuter students are also being asked to remain off campus during this period.
“All students are expected to comply with the shelter-in-place order to support our mitigation efforts. Any student who does not comply with these requirements or restrictions may face sanctions up to and including suspension from the University through spring 2021,” said Saigo in his letter to students.
Westfield State’s mandatory asymptomatic testing period runs through Thursday afternoon. Weekly test results are announced every Thursday.
“I realize that this temporary curtailment will be met with disappointment from all campus constituents. I understand and share your disappointment,” said Saigo, “However, this approach is the most prudent to ensure the health and safety of our full community by proactively lessening the risk of further spread of the highly contagious and unpredictable COVID-19 virus.”