Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Johns Hopkins community on February 3, 2021.
Dear Johns Hopkins Community,
To ensure the safety of our community and Baltimore neighbors, we have decided to suspend in-person undergraduate classes on the Homewood campus and other in-person activities involving Homewood undergraduates for today and tomorrow, starting this morning, after detecting a cluster of COVID-19 among undergraduate students. At this time, we are seeing 30 undergraduates out of a population of 6,000 who tested positive in our COVID screening yesterday and today. Our preliminary investigation suggests the issue is associated with off-campus social gatherings over the weekend.
We are taking a quick and proactive approach to this moment, although our numbers are small relative to our total population, out of an abundance of caution and to provide the opportunity to reinforce our communications with undergraduates about COVID safety precautions. Our peers who operated successfully in-person in the fall have not seen cases of transmission in classrooms, and we have had the same experience in our research labs, but we believe this action is necessary to ensure that we can carry out the rest of the semester safely.
A number of the students who tested positive are residing in Charles Commons, and many are student athletes. Those who tested positive and live in our residence halls have been transferred to isolation housing, and others are isolating in place off campus. During our pause in on-campus activities, we are taking several steps to confirm the scope of the cluster and to contain it:
Contact tracing is underway to help determine how this cluster occurred and to reduce its spread.
As many additional undergraduates will be tested as possible today and tomorrow.
All residents of Charles Commons will be ordered to self-quarantine and to be tested today.
All student athletes, whether living on or off campus, will be ordered to self-quarantine and to be tested today.
We are offering extra testing to Homewood and student housing staff.
Campus facilities, including the library and the temporary structure on the Freshman Quad, will be closed.
We know this is disappointing news for our community, and we wish to reaffirm our fundamental commitment to the safety of our faculty, staff, students, and Baltimore neighbors. Although this is not the way we wanted to start this new term, we also know that with the proper commitment to our established safety protocols, we will be able to have a successful and safe semester together.
We all have a responsibility to protect each other, and we urge you to read and commit yourselves to following the tenets of the Johns Hopkins Social Compact.
Wear a mask, maintain physical distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands, and report your symptoms.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being