On Wednesday, the California Health and Human Services Agency announced that San Diego County had an adjusted COVID-19 case rate of 7.4, a value that puts the county on track to revert to the most restrictive tier. If the county’s adjusted case rate next week is above 7.0, San Diego will be placed into Tier 1 (purple/widespread). Should the county move into the purple tier, the Bishop’s campus will remain open to students and employees. The transition to purple, though, will have an effect on many businesses. Specifically, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, and places of worship will have to conduct all of their operations outdoors. Retail establishments must limit capacity to 25 percent, and gyms will not be able to operate indoors at all.
As the county potentially moves into the most restrictive tier, we find ourselves asking “What can I do?” This is the ideal moment for all of us to redouble our efforts and commitment to our COVID-19 practices. Wear a mask anytime that you are out of the house, limit gatherings with others, abide by physical distancing expectations, wash your hands regularly and encourage others to do the same. The School will continue to monitor behavior on campus and is asking for help from students and families in terms of off-campus behavior. To this end, Dean of Students Michelle Shea sent a message to the junior and senior classes this week that read, in part:
“We need to share a reminder that your choices and behaviors when you are off campus matter and have the potential to impact our community, as well as impacting our ability to keep campus open. When we hear about off-campus extracurricular activities, where students are not wearing masks and not observing physical distancing, we have a responsibility to share our concerns. Disregarding basic COVID-19 protections puts our entire community at risk. That includes other students, staff, teachers, our families and all vulnerable populations. If you find that it is not possible for you to make good choices about basic COVID-19 protections, we ask that you stay home and learn from a distance until it is safe for you to return.”
This message is consistent with one that San Diego Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten sent this week. According to NBC News San Diego, Wooten issued several cease-and-desist orders to individuals promoting large parties planned in private homes near SDSU. Our assumption is that San Diego County will see increased cases of COVID-19 over the next several weeks. As we continue to work to keep our campus open for in-person education, we ask that every member of our community remain vigilant about their actions and behaviors.
Often in November and December, young alumni return to campus to check in with their friends and favorite teachers. In normal times, we love these moments, and we welcome these former students with open arms. This year is different, and we need to ensure that only students and employees are on campus. We look forward to a time when our alumni can return to Bishop’s and share a story and a smile.
COVID-19 Risk Assessment
This week we tested 189 employees and students through our surveillance testing program. All were negative for COVID-19. Two of the four county triggers, outbreaks and case rate, were above the allowable threshold. The rolling 14-day average of positive tests has risen modestly over the past week, ending the week just below 3 percent. We would assess the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus to be moderate, and we will continue to teach in the blended mode.