Aug. 23 Message to Campus: On the eve of the first day of classes...

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

We start the semester tomorrow with hope, excitement and, for many, more than the usual amount of nerves.

This fall, concerns about COVID-19 far outpace typical ones about tough professors or new syllabi’s success. They include: Will the Plexiglas and other protective measures really keep classrooms safe? Are people complying with rules about masks and distancing? Is that person who just sneezed in the back of the room actually infected?

Yet again this year, no guarantees exist. All we can offer are details of our efforts, and our early results.

From Saturday, Aug. 8, and through to this evening, University Health Services has tested 2,646 undergraduates at the Freiberger Field and North Residential Village sites. As of this writing, we have 2,310 results back from August’s testing, including eight positive cases for a positive rate of 0.35%.

This Tuesday, Aug. 25, we will post a COVID-19 dashboard on the Return to Campus website that will be updated weekly with data about tests administered and their results. The dashboard also will include Cuyahoga County’s figures.

As important as this broad testing is for assessing students’ status at the start of classes, we also know that the results only indicate a person’s status at that specific point in time. Given what we know about the possibility of asymptomatic infection, our collective well-being requires that we all follow university policies.

Masks must be worn on campus at all times, indoors or outside, except when a person is in a room or office entirely alone. Physical distance of at least 6 feet also is required, as is frequent handwashing or sanitizing (with a solution that is at least 60% alcohol).

When students see peers failing to comply with an aspect of the university’s Community Commitment, they can remind them of the rule and/or submit a COVID-19 CARE Report. When a staff or faculty member is not following the policy, the person who observes it also can offer a reminder, and/or email

Finally, all faculty and staff—and all students coming to campus for even one class—must complete a daily health attestation before arriving on campus. The form can be found online, through the Return to Campus website, or via the Guardian smartphone app. Starting tomorrow, the university will send daily email reminders, as well as an app notification every Monday.

With best wishes for a wonderful first day of classes,

Barbara R. Snyder