After a relatively quiet month of September, October has seen an influx in COVID cases and needs for quarantine. As mentioned in our announcement on Monday, last weekend saw two athletic teams quarantined for exposure to one or two individuals testing positive (volleyball and baseball). Over the course of this week, three more teams have been placed in quarantine (cross-country, women’s basketball, and men’s soccer) and one more team is awaiting results before a determination can be made.
As of today, the total number of students currently in isolation due to being COVID-positive (as reported through SAU’s testing or reported to us by students taking tests elsewhere) is 29 (less than 3% of the undergrad population). A total of 16 students (from June 14 through today) are considered “recovered” and no longer in isolation. Additionally, we have 2 staff that have tested positive in the past 10 days and nearing the end of their isolation time. We are grateful that all individuals in isolation report no-to-moderate symptoms, seem to be doing well, and are in good spirits.
Another data point that we track are the number of students and personnel “impacted” by COVID-19, meaning they are in quarantine or quasi-quarantine awaiting test results. Currently, we have 172 students (nearly 18% of the undergrad population) in quarantine (35 of whom are quarantining in designated campus housing, and the rest are at home or off-campus). Additionally, we have another 9 personnel in quarantine. Quarantine numbers are high because–due to the increased exposure around competition and travel–Jackson County Health tends to quarantine entire teams when just one or two athletes are infected.
We are closely monitoring this situation on-campus, as well as the situation in Jackson County, in our region, and throughout the State of Michigan. We understand the concern with the increasing numbers and the impact this has on instruction and campus life. At this point, we plan on continuing with classes in-person up to Thanksgiving break and managing situations that arise. Most of the cases are connected and accounted for. We are told this strain is highly contagious, partly because the symptoms–for many people–are so mild.
This is a great reminder for us to be particularly careful when in a vehicle (public or private). It would be wise to avoid sharing rides as much as possible, but if doing so, consider wearing a mask and rolling the windows down, even an inch or two. It may not prevent you from being quarantined if someone in the vehicle becomes infected with COVID; however, research shows it could decrease your chances of becoming infected.
When Might I Need to Quarantine?
One of the main questions we receive is whether someone who comes in contact with an individual who is quarantined should themselves quarantine. The short answer is no. Only those who come in contact with the COVID-positive person need to quarantine–that means, separate themselves and wait to see if symptoms arise. Roommates of those on a quarantine list do not need to quarantine. Roommates of an individual isolated for being infected DO need to quarantine. But you don’t need to quarantine unless you are told by Jackson County Health or Student Development to do so. If you were in contact with someone who is COVID-positive, you should be notified. Scanning into classes and meetings assists those individuals with remembering where they were. If you somehow come into knowledge of the positive status of a friend, please ask them to add you to their close contact list.
While we’re learning that our students are having mild symptoms, we must remain diligent in protecting those in our community who are most vulnerable. That has been the primary goal all along. Please continue to adhere to our “Safe 8” Community Health Practices–particularly social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing, and help us slow the spread.
Corey R. Ross | Vice President for Student Development and Success
Chair of the Coronavirus Planning Team
Spring Arbor University | 106 E Main St | Spring Arbor, MI 49283
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