By Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief, and Kirsten Williams, Staff Writer
On Friday, Feb. 26, Vermont Law School (VLS) recorded two COVID-19 cases among the students tested biweekly on campus.
In an interview with The Forum, VLS Vice Dean for Students, Joe Brennan, stated that subsequent negative tests from students imply that the positive tests were false positives. There have been no additional positive tests on campus since the cases were recorded the week before spring break.
VLS Mental Health Services Manager Ashley Ziai sent an email on Feb. 26 to students enrolled in the spring semester hybrid section informing them of the development. The spring semester hybrid students were required to sign a contract before being enrolled in the section. Per the terms of the contract, hybrid section students were not permitted to leave Vermont during the week of spring break.
Brennan sent an email to the spring semester hybrid students and faculty on March 2 to inform them that VLS believed the positives were false positives and that VLS cannot disclose any “specifics about the students who tested positive” due to federal privacy laws. The email also told hybrid students and faculty that they would be resuming in-person classes once spring break was over.
VLS provides COVID-related information for the community on its website, including how to access campus, protocols for accessing campus, frequently asked questions, information on signing up for testing, and a portal for reporting violations of VLS’s COVID-19 policies. Additionally, the dashboard continues to provide case and testing statistics and information about the school’s operational status.
When a positive test comes from campus testing, the student with a positive test result is notified and the Vermont Department of Health (DOH) takes over. DOH contact-traces all cases and is responsible for notifying other students, faculty, or staff members at VLS who were potentially exposed.
VLS expects students to report violations of COVID-19 protocols, and Student Ambassadors are specifically tasked with monitoring student compliance.
Although VLS emailed hybrid students when the first cases were recorded, VLS will not email students if there are more positive cases, according to Brennan. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for checking the COVID-19 Dashboard, which is updated regularly with any new positive tests.