I want to begin by introducing myself. I am Andréa Sonenberg, PhD, professor of graduate nursing in the College of Health Professions. I am also a member of the board of directors of the New York State Public Health Association. And I have recently taken on the role of Coronavirus Coordination Officer for Pace University, managing our testing, tracing, and response efforts across all three campuses. I am determined to ensure that we follow the science and observe all best practices, in adherence with New York State Department of Health guidelines, as we work to keep our community safe and healthy.
Let me tell you about some of the actions we’ve taken and will continue to take to test and protect our students, faculty, and staff.
Pursuant to New York State guidelines, students from restricted states were quarantined for 14 days prior to the start of the semester, either in Pace-provided hotels or independently in the New York area, and we tested students in the Pace hotels. Once the semester began, we tested residential students on all three campuses. Through that process, a handful of positive cases were identified, and those students were isolated for 10 days and those who had been in close contact with them were quarantined for 14 days.
We believe those cases were contained, with no further spread. We have had very few additional cases since. We also know that as the semester continues, and as we conduct more tests, we will see more cases. We are prepared to promptly identify, isolate, and trace those cases.
Now that the semester is underway, we are beginning an ongoing program of community monitoring. Each week, a random sample of 25 percent of our residential student and employee population, as well as 25 percent of our commuter population—that’s 25 percent of the students, faculty, and staff who are coming to each campus—will be tested with a nasal swab that is self-administered under the guidance and observation of experts. (This is a less invasive sampling technique that will make it easy for community members to continue with our monitoring program.) We’ll test in the early part of the week each week, and we’ll have results back in 24 hours. Any positive cases will immediately be isolated and their contacts will be identified, contacted, and quarantined. Our contact tracing programs will work in collaboration with local county Departments of Health for each campus. You can find more information about our community monitoring program on our Return to Campus website.
You can track these results on our COVID-19 dashboard, at www.pace.edu/dashboard. It will be updated at least daily while school is in session.
We believe this new testing protocol, in combination with ongoing use of the PaceSafe app and the various measures taken to reduce density and increase adherence to safety measures on our campuses, will allow us to move quickly and responsibly to protect our campus and keep people safe. We’re counting on everyone’s cooperation to protect our community.
We will follow up next week with information on the first round of community monitoring for those who have been randomly selected. Please continue to check your Pace email. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about Pace’s coronavirus response efforts, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. And if you’ve completed the Johns Hopkins free online training course on contact tracing and would like to join our effort, please reach out.
Thank you for your efforts to help keep our community safe.