Another Homewood COVID Cluster Update

| February 8, 2021
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Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Johns Hopkins community on February 7, 2021.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

We write to update you on the cluster of COVID cases detected among Homewood undergraduates last week, the steps we have taken to address the situation, and our plans for the week ahead.

After a peak of 44 new COVID cases among Homewood undergraduates from tests administered on Tuesday, Feb. 2, we saw cases trending down significantly over the next two days with just three new cases detected out of the approximately 1,800 tests administered to them on Friday. We will continue to monitor testing results from the weekend and early this coming week, but if these trends continue, we will resume in-person classes and activities for Homewood undergraduates on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Until then, the following conditions will be in effect:

  • No gatherings of any size will be allowed for Homewood undergraduates, indoors or outdoors until 8 a.m. on Thursday. This includes prohibition of gatherings among residents of a dorm or apartment building who would otherwise share common spaces. As noted in our Feb. 4 communication, even gathering in a small group to watch the Super Bowl is not permitted.
  • All student athletes must continue to be tested daily and remain in their residences until further notice. That means they may not leave for any purpose other than picking up grab-and-go food, getting a COVID test or to walk or jog outside by themselves.
  • Based on testing data, we are now able to slightly modify the restrictions for residents of Charles Commons who are not student athletes. They are allowed to resume the same testing schedule as other undergraduates (now three times a week) and to leave their rooms for other purposes, such as running errands by themselves.

Ensuring the health and safety of the Johns Hopkins community and that of our Baltimore neighbors is our top priority, and we will continue our aggressive measures to detect and isolate new COVID cases, strictly enforce our COVID safety policies, and respond to community concerns. We thank all members of the Hopkins community and the surrounding neighborhoods who have reported potential COVID safety issues through the LiveSafe app or our phone hotline (844-SPEAK2US), and we assure you that we follow up on all reports. LiveSafe is available to the public (not just JHU affiliates). It is the best way to report events in real time and includes options for anonymity. 

During the weekend, Campus Safety and Security investigated several reports of possible violations of the prohibition on all gatherings. Thankfully, most proved to be unfounded or did not involve Johns Hopkins affiliates. We are, however, investigating a reported gathering yesterday among members of a Johns Hopkins fraternity as a potential violation of the ban on such activities that was announced last Thursday; in the meantime, we have ordered members of that fraternity to undergo daily COVID testing and to remain in their residence pending test results.

The disciplinary process under the student conduct code is underway in relation to one or more known gatherings in potential violation of university COVID policies at 3209 N. Charles St. (known as the Wawa House) last weekend. In addition to individual responsibility, organizational sanctions are also possible for groups involved in organizing the events, including athletic team members who live at that property.

During the weekend, the university also took steps to bring more off-campus undergraduates who have tested positive into university-controlled isolation housing to better protect them and others. To clarify the terms used, with approximate days based as directed by health care professionals:

  • Isolation housing is for those who have tested positive (usually 10 days from symptom onset).
  • Quarantine is for those who have had meaningful contact with someone who tested positive (usually 14 days from exposure).
  • Remain-at-home orders, like the one currently in effect for student athletes, are for those who have not tested positive or had an identified close contact with someone who has but who are otherwise at potentially greater risk (days determined by the university).

We, in cooperation with the Baltimore City Health Department, are continuing an extensive contact-tracing process for each person who tests positive. If you are determined to have had meaningful contact with a COVID-positive Johns Hopkins affiliate, you will be contacted immediately for any necessary follow up. The city health department handles notification in cases in which COVID-positive JHU students, faculty, or staff have contact with non-affiliates.

We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the large majority of our students who have strictly followed the university’s COVID policies and regulations. As outlined in the Johns Hopkins Social Compact we have a collective responsibility to each other and to our Baltimore neighbors to do everything we can to stay safe and protect each other. We are hopeful that we will be able to resume our planned in-person classes and other activities for Homewood undergraduates later this week, and we will keep you informed of any new developments.

Sunil Kumar

Alanna Shanahan
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Kevin Shollenberger
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being