COVID-19 update: cases fall from mid-March spike

Grace Mamon

The Washington and Lee COVID-19 Committee lowered the campus environment level from red to high-yellow March 22. The change came after positive cases fell significantly from a peak of 105 on March 13. 

As of March 28, there were only five positive cases on campus. Only 8 of the 76 beds in the Isolation/Quarantine space were in use. 

“With this change, we will return to the following guidelines that were in place before we moved the gague to red,” the COVID-19 Committee email said. 

These guidelines limit gatherings to 10 people, indoors and out. No visitors other than current Washington and Lee students are allowed in residences, but students may once again visit each other. 

In a March 25 email, the committee announced that the COVID-19 Dashboard now includes information depicting how many students, facult and staff have self-reported vaccinations. 

As of that day, about 6% of the campus community is fully vaccinated. Almost 23% are partially vaccinated, and about 72% are unreported. 

The committee encouraged students to record their COVID-19 vaccinations in the daily attesttion app. 

“The Central Shenandoah Health District is now vaccinating all groups in Phase1b, which includes those aged 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disabilty,” the email said. 

 On March 19, President William Dudley announced in an email to the student body that commencement will be held in person. 

Two days earlier, Gov. Ralph Northam had announced revised restrictions for graudation ceremonies. Outdoor graduation events will be capped at 5,000 people or 30% of the venue capacity, whichever is less, according to a March 17 press release. 

“The ceremonies will take place on Wilson Field, rain or shine,” Dudley wrote.

The law ceremony will be May 7 and the undergraduate ceremony will be May 26. 

Dudley said that he anticipates each event will be able to acoonmmodate the entire graduating class, as well as a limited number of guests. 

“It’s nice to know that we’re going to do commencement in person,” said Zach England, ‘21, who was concerned about his family scheduling travel from Seattle.
“I’m assuming we’ll be able to have a few people come but who knows.”

England said his fellow seniors seem excited about being able to celebrate a final milestone together in person instead of virtually.