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Omicron raises positivity rates, spreads to President Cornwell

A total of 67 students have reported testing positive for COVID-19 in the past week, compared to last week’s 26 students. Currently, 138 students are either in isolation or quarantine.

The Omicron surge, while affecting a wave of students, has affected faculty and staff as well. President Cornwell has tested positive and is quarantining in his home until Jan. 30. In the meantime, he is taking all appointments online.

“Since the New Year, I have intentionally re-engaged my duties as President, traveling for the College, attending events as required, and meeting with members of the Rollins community, on campus and off, in all cases following masking and safe protocols,” Cornwell said in a statement to The Sandspur. “As someone who is vaccinated, boosted, and in good health, I made the choice to get back to doing those things I am called upon to do. Like so much of humanity, I have measured risks and made choices that I do not regret. I have been as careful as possible in that context, but obviously Omicron found a way.”

Cornwell said he has the symptoms of a minor cold and that he feels “quite fine.”

According to the current Rollins Dashboard, the total positivity rate at Rollins is 14.8 percent, compared to the critical Orange County positivity rate of 28.8 percent.

Many students are experiencing the impacts of the omicron wave firsthand. Destiny Robinson (‘22) tested positive the first week of school.

Robinson said, “I feel as though Rollins is so in a rush to get back to the way of doing things that they’re not really taking into consideration that, though the outbreak isn’t as bad as the first variant, students are still having symptoms and getting sick, which can in turn affect their academic life.”

She described her quarantine experience as “very isolating, very lonely,” especially when it came to keeping up with academics.

“There weren’t any WebEx options at all, so I just had to essentially email my professors and just asked how I should keep up with the classes, but after that there was nothing more for helping in the academic sense,” Robinson said.

Isabella Griffin (‘25) also tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

“Honestly, I think Rollins is doing the best they can about COVID, and I think their action plan is smart. But there are still a lot of students who are showing symptoms but not getting tested […] That’s a bit worrisome,” Griffin said.

As cases continue to spread across campus, it is important for students to remember to abide by the safety policies and precautions on campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Campus Policies:

  • Rollins recommends the use of medical grade (KN95, KN94, or surgical) masks as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
  • Masks must be worn in all buildings on campus, including residential halls, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Masks can be removed in single-use office spaces or individual residential rooms.
  • Masks must be worn at all times in the Lakeside Neighborhood gym.

Classroom Policies:

  • All classrooms must maintain a minimum of three feet between the students and the instructor.
  • Students must wear masks fully covering their nose and mouth in order to participate in class.
  • No eating or drinking is allowed in the classroom.
  • Students may not adjust any classroom configurations (i.e. move desks or seating).
  • Students must remain in their assigned seats throughout the duration of the class, except for bathroom breaks.

If You Test Positive:

  • Contact the Wellness Center if you haven’t already.
  • Contact your instructors to discuss expectations for missed work and absences.

For updates regarding COVID-19 on campus and vaccination rates, click here.

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