Want to gather? Follow these practices
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
This week, rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization in our state and our city continued to decline, and many of us now look forward to less restrictive university visitor and events, gatherings, and meetings (hereafter referred to as “gatherings”) policies that go into effect tomorrow. Unfortunately, and in contrast to regional trends, we have seen a substantial increase this week in the number of COVID-19 infections among undergraduate students on our campus. The greatest proportion of these infections appears to be associated with large social gatherings involving food and drink, with very little, if any, masking. A much smaller number was associated with travel. None appear to be associated with classroom attendance or eating in residential college dining halls.
If we hope to open our campus to more in-person activities while protecting those who participate in and support those activities—especially classmates, roommates, faculty, staff, and New Haven neighbors who may be at risk for severe COVID-19 illness—it is vitally important that we follow practices to keep those activities as safe as possible. In this message I will review some of those practices, with a focus on the conditions required by the new gathering policy.
What must I know before I plan or attend a gathering?
A full description of conditions that apply to gatherings is included in the events, gatherings, and meetings policy. Among other conditions, this policy calls for gatherings to adhere to Safer Yale Practices, which provide specific guidance for planning and attending gatherings on or off campus. I strongly encourage you to review all of these practices, but include a few important reminders below:
- Everyone must wear a Yale-approved mask when indoors with others.
- Until February 21, gatherings may provide only grab and go food so that masks may be worn for the duration of the gathering.
- Plan to hold your gathering in a university space whenever possible; university spaces, including dining halls and classrooms, have been evaluated by Yale Facilities and Environmental Health and Safety to ensure they conform to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Be aware that the risk of infections at gatherings increases with:
- Large numbers and high densities of attendees;
- Poorly ventilated spaces; and
- Long duration.
- Keep in mind that take-out and delivery options from restaurants are less risky than indoor dining in small spaces.
As we look ahead to new opportunities to gather, it is more important than ever that each of us follows those practices that will protect us and those we interact with. I hope you will take time to review the information in this message and follow the health and safety measures on our COVID-19 website so that we can continue to move forward together.
Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator