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Conn College sends home students who hosted gatherings that violated campus expectations

New London — Connecticut College has sent home students who hosted gatherings in their residence halls this past weekend that violated the college's COVID-19 pandemic rules.

The students will continue their coursework remotely, the college said.

In a message to students on Tuesday, Dean of Students Victor Arcelus said the college, which is providing a mix of virtual and in-person learning, expects students to wear masks, social distance, limit the number of people in groups and abide by the college's visitor policies. But he said the hosts of the weekend gatherings "created conditions in their rooms where many of these expectations were not followed."

"Many of you chose to be on campus and being here is a privilege," he added in the message, which also reminded students of the college's expectations. "If you cannot commit to doing your part in keeping campus safe, then you will lose the privilege of remaining on campus this semester and will be required to complete your coursework remotely."

The college did not provide specifics beyond what was stated in the letter. College spokeswoman Tiffany Thiele said matters of student discipline are not public. "Due to privacy laws, it is our policy to not discuss individual student conduct issues," she said.

Arcelus said students are required to limit the number of people in their room to provide at least 6 feet of social distancing and must wear a mask if they are with someone other than those they live with. They also must stay within their assigned hall and cannot have guests or visitors.

"In addition, a social gathering cannot be more than 10 people, meaning the only places available to gather are outside or by reserving a large room where people can be socially distanced," he said.

Students who host a gathering that flouts social distancing rules will "at the minimum" be sent home to learn remotely for the rest of the semester but also, depending on the circumstances, could face a disciplinary warning, probation, suspension or expulsion, according to Arcelus.

The college, which requires twice-a-week testing, shows two students were positive for COVID-19 on its dashboard, or online portal, which also shows 3,426 tests were performed last week, for a positivity rate of 0.06%.

According to its website, the college also has developed a system of alert levels, which remains at alert level 2, or "yellow." The level "indicates that operations need to be modified, though the number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 is still manageable and contact tracing suggests that exposures are confined to a small number of people. Effective contact tracing remains possible, and there is confidence in the ability to contain, isolate and remediate small clusters."

Arcelus told students that the college's expectations "do not preclude you from being with friends and taking time to socialize," but require students to "think differently about how you gather, where you gather and the number of people you get together with."

"My sense is that most students who are here recognize the changes that need to be in place and have made adjustments to support the safety of the campus. Some are not yet on board. On behalf of the faculty, staff and students who are eager to remain together on campus this year, I ask those who have not fully adjusted to the changes in expectations to make that shift now," he said. "This will ensure that we can continue to be together as a campus this fall and that additional students do not need to go home to complete their semesters remotely due to not complying with our expectations."

k.drelich@theday.com

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