College To Delay Plans To loosen Restrictions Due To Large Party
The school is estimating that about 80 to 100 people held an illicit indoor party at Williams College on Friday evening, breaking state gathering rules and college guidelines.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that Williams College President Maud Mandel called the event “deeply disappointing” in a letter to students, faculty, and staff on Saturday.
As a precautionary measure, she said, the college will postpone loosening on-campus COVID restrictions by at least two weeks.
“CSS [Campus Safety and Security] noted that many people at the party were either completely without masks or were wearing them around their necks, on their wrists, etc, As you can imagine, the crowd was tightly packed in such a small space.”
Attendees left quickly when Campus Safety and Security arrived at the scene..The college will require all students found to be attending the party to switch to remote learning, with further penalties for students who do not come forward about their involvement.
“If this response seems strict, it has to be, I remind you that each student knew and accepted the rules before you arrived. In fact, our local public health officials only endorsed the college’s spring plan with that assurance."
Indoor gatherings, which remain capped at 10 people by the state, have been a major driver of virus spread across Massachusetts and Berkshire County. Local and state officials have linked the Commonwealth's most recent surge directly to gatherings in private homes.
In light of the incident, Mandel said Williams will not move to its on-campus Phase Two until at least March 15. That means student interactions outside of their living “pods” will continue to be strictly limited.
“The change is not meant to punish the whole community, but rather as a necessary public health measure, The party created a significant risk of Covid transmission. Indeed, such gatherings have become superspreader events at other schools.”
In the last week, only one person associated with the college has tested positive, according to the college’s dashboard.
Students are tested twice a week, and the college has rapid testing capacity for those who become symptomatic.
Williams students had the option of learning in-person or remotely, and those who returned to campus were required to sign an extensive public health commitment.
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