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A Cautionary Tale and Note About Physical Distancing

Covenant Students, 


Perhaps you have already seen the news that yesterday the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill abruptly decided after one week on campus to send students home and continue the remainder of the fall semester on-line due to multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on campus.  While there is variable experience symptomatically with how severe the virus is, there is no doubt that this virus is highly contagious.  UNC tracked most of the transmission back to the residence halls and fraternity/sorority houses.  I can’t stress enough how important it is that you observe the distancing, masking, and hygiene rules you agreed to in the Covenant Commitment in order to reduce the spread of the virus. 

  • Remember to stay in your room and attend class on-line if you feel sick - and then contact Health Services immediately at 706.419.1275 to determine next steps. 

  • Do not put others at risk by your actions.  There is no honor in gutting it out and exposing others in class, the Great Hall, or elsewhere if you are sick

  • Even on your halls and in your rooms where masks aren’t required, be particularly careful to still distance from one another, not share drinking/eating utensils, and limit time spent in close quarters.


A question that has been asked frequently concerns the 615 Rule.  Just to clarify, the purpose of the 615 Rule is for public health to set a workable standard to define a close contact for the work of tracing and isolation.  It may feel somewhat arbitrary but there has to be a line drawn somewhere to have a process.  This is the way the College and public health will determine who to quarantine in order to impede the spread.  Close contacts are those within 6 feet of the infected individual for 15 minutes or longer when the case is infectious/contagious. 


Please note that it is not a "safety rule '' to be used in planning activities with a stopwatch in order to cut off contact at the 14th minute.  It is not designed to be applied for those purposes and leveraging it for planned contacts is a misuse of the 615 Rule.  The guidance from public health continues to be that people should practice social distancing as much as they can if they want to prevent illness.  There are no absolutes with the virus and it is possible individuals can get infected in a very short period of time. 


I have found it helpful to think of transmission risk with the simple phrase: time, space, people, place. 


Less time with people is better than more time.

More space between people is better than less space.

Fewer people is better than more people

Outside places are better than inside places


The more time you spend and the closer in space you are to people, the higher your risk.  Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor places are riskier than outdoors. 


Hope this further clarifies why we are asking what we are of you and of ourselves.  Please know that all faculty and staff are signing the Covenant Commitment.  We must do this together.  Classes start tomorrow with 97 days to go until the last day of finals.  Let's commit each day to look out for one another and take these precautions seriously to consider the consequences of not doing so as we embark on this semester together. 


In Christ,


Brad Voyles