COVID-19 case spike triggers campus lockdown procedures

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Photo by Helen Maier

This article will be updated as new information comes to light. 

On  Feb. 3, President Hibbs announced a mandatory implementation of health and safety measures on the University of Dallas Irving campus in order to contain the spread and investigate the source of a spike in COVID-19 cases. As of Feb 4. at 6 P.M. there are 46 active cases, 1 which is an employee of the University. 

In a statement to The University News on Feb. 4, Clare Venegas, assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications, wrote that on Feb. 3 there were 33 active cases and 17 occupied beds. This spike triggered the measures announced by President Hibbs.

“[The lockdown] was done in order to give our Health Center staff enough time to complete additional testing and catch-up with the critical contract-tracing work among the students who tested positive in the last 48 hours,” wrote Venegas. “It is hoped that once we can complete the contract tracing work, we can identify the source of the spread, isolate those exposed, and return to normal after this weekend.” 

According to Venegas, the implemented measures could become more extreme in the future, should positive cases rise. The possibility of moving all classes online, and possibly moving all healthy residential students home, still exists. 

“But we have not reached that point yet, and pray we never will. This is precisely why continuing to uphold the Groundhog Pledge of masking, social distancing, and maintaining good personal hygiene are so important to ensuring we can make it through the spring semester, together, on-campus.” 

The current health and safety measures include mandatory masking indoors and outdoors, enforced curfew from 10:30 P.M. to 6 A.M., grab-and-go food (dine-in is prohibited, and all seating around Haggar University Center have been removed), and the closure of the Cap Bar and on-campus fitness center. 

Residential students must remain in their own halls after 10:30 P.M. Doors to buildings around campus will be locked to enforce curfew.

Classes remain in-person, and the sacraments (Mass, confession and adoration) will continue to be offered.

According to Hibb’s email, “additional UD police and safety officers will be assisting with enforcement of the mask mandate and curfew during this period.”

“We are hopeful this will be a short-term situation, but as these situations are fluid, we are prepared to take additional steps to contain further spread, including the possible extension of these measures after 5 p.m. on Monday.”

Dean Julia Carrano sent a follow-up email Feb. 4 reiterating the requirement for perpetual masking and encouraged students to remain on-campus. 

“The goal over the next few days is to complete contact tracing and testing that enables us to be safely up and running again next week,” wrote Carrano. “However, this depends on prompt and honest answers from students and adherence to medical directives.”

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