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St. Lawrence University, Canton. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — St. Lawrence University’s wastewater testing program, a partnership with Clarkson University in Potsdam, detected traces of the novel coronavirus in the latest round of sampling this week.

Virus traces were found in samples taken from Sykes, Lee, Priest, and Reiff residence halls. Traces in wastewater do not necessarily indicate active positive cases of COVID-19.

In a Tuesday message to the campus community, SLU officials announced the implementation of a precautionary quarantine for students in the four residence halls, requiring those students to stay in their rooms or suites unless they are being tested for COVID-19 or picking up meals from Eben Holden Hall during designated hours.

“We recognize that the precautionary quarantine of four residence halls and moving to remote learning for the remainder of this week is inconvenient and will be difficult,” reads the message from Hagi Bradley, dean of student life, and Karl Schonberg, dean of academic affairs. “This situation does highlight how essential it is that everyone continues to adhere to public health protocols and wear a mask, practice social distancing, stay home when you are sick, keep your hands and space clean, and stay on campus except for groceries, medical needs and medication.”

All classes for the entire campus will be facilitated remotely through at least Friday, and SLU is reverting to the first phase of its residential visitation protocols, which restricts residence hall access to “family” units of students living with one another.

All in-person activities and athletic practices are canceled, and athletics and recreation facilities are closed through Friday.

This week’s sampling results follow the detection of virus traces from wastewater taken from Hulett and Lee residence halls in October, when a similar quarantine was implemented.

Since Aug. 17, SLU has conducted more than 15,000 individual COVID-19 tests, with four total positive cases, one of which is currently active. As of Tuesday, the university reports 774 tests are pending.

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