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Undergraduate COVID-19 cases hit all-time high as positivity rate increases slightly

<h5>Lewis Thomas Laboratory, where COVID-19 tests are processed on campus.</h5>
<h6>Daily Princetonian Staff / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Lewis Thomas Laboratory, where COVID-19 tests are processed on campus.
Daily Princetonian Staff / The Daily Princetonian

According to data from the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the campus-wide COVID-19 positivity rate rose to 2.59 percent during the week ending on Feb. 25, a slight increase from the 2.32 percent reported the week prior. 

There were 118 total cases on Feb. 28, the latest day with data available, with the seven-day average reaching its highest since mid-January at 53 cases.  

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This included 110 undergraduates, the highest single-day number of undergraduate cases thus far.

Among undergraduate students, the positivity rate stood at 5.55 percent during the week ending on Feb. 25, an increase of 0.66 percent from the week prior. Out of 5,870 undergraduate tests collected, there were 326 positive cases. The campus risk status is still in the “Moderate to High” range, following the semester-high number of positive cases reported on Feb. 15.

Dean of the College Jill Dolan addressed the spike in cases over the past few weeks in a Feb. 27 memo to all undergraduate students and teaching faculty. 

“I understand students’ stress and anxiety from being required to isolate and the extra work for faculty required by teaching to students in class and elsewhere,” she wrote. 

“I encourage everyone to be proactive.  If you’re a student who tests positive or is already in isolation this week, please reach out to your instructors right away via email to let them know,” she added. 

For midterms, Dolan told faculty to make virtual options available if required. 

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“[I]nstructors planning in-class examinations should make the exam available to students in isolation.  Students isolating should take the exam  electronically (typically via Canvas) at the same time as their in-class peers.  Faculty can consult with the McGraw Center on how to set up the exam,” the memo said.

Among graduate students, there were 5 positive cases and a 0.23 percent positivity rate in the week ending on Feb. 25, the same as the week prior. Faculty and staff saw 15 positive cases, up slightly from 14 the week prior.

On March 1, the University inadvertently published and then retracted an announcement, which would have signaled a shift from weekly to monthly asymptomatic testing. 

Sandeep Mangat is an Associate News Editor who has reported on labor shortages on and off campus, University guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, international student life, and research led by Princeton faculty. He can be reached at smangat@princeton.edu and on Twitter @s_smangat. 

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