COVID-19 update: Moving to yellow alert level
Due to increasing cases on university campuses, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) today issued a new public health order to institutions of higher education. DU’s existing protocols largely meet the demands of the declaration. DDPHE stipulates that failure to reduce spread may result in imposing isolation and quarantine orders, requiring virtual classes and a stay-at-home order. As a result, DU has elevated from alert level green to alert level yellow.
Dear DU community members,
Like many, we are closely watching the increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19 across the state. So are the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). In response, today they issued new orders specifically for institutions of higher education. A list and the current status of the order’s implementation can be found at the bottom of this message.
Importantly, as a result of this order, we have decided to elevate DU from green alert level to yellow alert level. Learn more about DU's Alert Level system here.
I want to recognize that most of the University of Denver community is diligently following the necessary protocols – ours, the city of Denver’s and the state of Colorado’s - to mitigate the spread of the virus. And, as we returned to campus for the fall term, we expected to see a small spike in positive cases due to our aggressive testing. Our online dashboard has detailed information about DU-specific testing, positivity rate, and other data, updated daily. The data in the dashboard reflects this expected spike.
I also want to affirm that DU’s COVID-19 protocols apply to the DU community equally. However, the DDPHE’s order cites “a surge in COVID-19 cases due to groups of students gathering in violation of the gathering limits” as a reason for targeting higher education institutions specifically in Denver. The close scrutiny on colleges and universities is also happening in other parts of Colorado.
As you know, last week we issued new limits on events--from a maximum of 100 individuals to a maximum of 50. We also began conducting additional testing for populations where we are seeing the greatest increase in cases.
If the measures in this new order don’t reduce the spread of the virus, Denver may impose isolation orders, require virtual classes, or impose a new stay at home order. The consequences of our choices in the coming days and week are quite serious, and I encourage broad adherence to the established guidelines and protocols proven to mitigate the spread.
I hope we can return to alert level green very soon. To do so, we must adhere to all state and local ordinances, as well as our own health and safety protocols. I know this ask is especially difficult for our students. The vibrant social experience of being on campus is important to you—and it’s important to DU. This difficult moment asks us to be flexible and creative. Luckily, we live in Colorado, where access to the outdoors, where the virus is not as easily spread, is right at our fingertips. I encourage all of us to take care of our mental and social health by connecting with friends and participating in activities that we enjoy. Walk, run, hike, bike, play Frisbee, shoot baskets, and create small conversation circles that follow our protocols. There are also many more informal activities available to enjoy our beautiful campus while the weather is so stunning.
#DUYourPart and protect the community—especially the most vulnerable populations. Wear your face covering. Practice diligent social distancing. Download Everbridge to help DU conduct contact tracing. We can DU this.
New City of Denver Orders for Higher Education Institutions
- Conduct daily health screenings & restrict access
- Notify DDPHE of positive cases within 24 hours
- Implement effective face covering enforcement
- Cease sport activity & quarantine team if there is a confirmed positive case within an athletics team
- No non-essential visitors to residence halls
- Informal gatherings on campus are limited to 10 or fewer participants.
- Everyone is required to wear face coverings (whether indoors or outdoors) during athletic activities. This includes our student athletes and pertains to both training and games (exceptions can be made in the few cases where athletes can adhere to strict social distancing requirements, as defined by the state.)
- All “non-essential” activities (this excludes essential activity such as class or work), should be moved to a virtual format.
- Integrate the new public health orders into our developed and implemented plan.