Dear Kenyon staff, students and families,
In our January 6 memo on spring semester policies, we noted that guidance on isolation from the CDC had changed, but we held off making changes to our protocols because the situation was still in flux. Now that the guidance from CDC has stabilized, and after further consultation with our partners at Knox Public Health, Kenyon will be aligning our isolation and quarantine protocols with the latest CDC guidance. Specifically, individuals who test positive will be released from isolation after 5 days, provided that their symptoms are improving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. The 5-day isolation period will be calculated from the first day of symptom onset or, if asymptomatic, the test date. After release, individuals should continue to mask at all times in the presence of others for 5 more days. The guidance does not require testing before release, but specifies that if individuals wish to test and have one available, they should utilize a rapid test, and they should remain in isolation until day 10 if they test positive. For students currently in isolation, members of the Cox Center staff will be in touch to provide you with specific guidance.
The move to a shorter isolation period is motivated by science demonstrating that most transmission occurs early in the course of illness (1-2 days prior to symptom onset and 2-3 days after). Like any public health intervention, it must balance risks and benefits. In our case, the risks of an earlier release from isolation trade off against the benefits of allowing recovered students to return more quickly to the classroom and their life on campus. The fact that nearly 100% of the student body is fully vaccinated and will be boosted adds to our confidence that these benefits to student mental health and academic experience can be achieved safely.
By conditioning release from isolation on self-reported symptoms, this policy also further reinforces one of the main lessons that COVID has taught us: our collective well-being requires us to trust one another. In this context, it is critically important that we all respond by behaving in a way that justifies that trust. We must continue to mask vigilantly and correctly whenever we are around others, monitor our symptoms carefully, and, if we have even mild symptoms, stay home, stay masked, and get tested as recommended. If we test positive, we must monitor and report on our symptoms openly and honestly to ensure that we do not represent a significant risk to others. Despite our collective experience of pandemic fatigue, these actions are essential for protecting the Kenyon community.
Thank you for your continued commitment to one another.
COVID-19 Steering Committee, Chair