This article was originally published on Oct. 15, 2020. The COVID-19 case numbers in the article and photo above have been updated as of Oct. 17, 2020.
The upward trend of positive COVID-19 cases on Goshen College’s campus continued last week as the cumulative number of positive cases among students and employees surged to 43 (47 as of Oct 17).
At the moment, there is no current timeline for when classes could move fully online, however the Pandemic Task Force continues to reassess in their weekly meetings, Miller said.
“Based on the numbers of people and the networks that are testing positive, I know we’re having some on-campus transmission — or within the Goshen College community,” Miller said. “We are pretty confident that it’s not happening in classrooms.”
Despite confidence in where COVID-19 is spreading on campus, the Pandemic Task Force is still considering the move.
“As challenging as it would be to go 100% online, we continue to grapple with how that might be a reality,” Miller said.
Reports have been made that one of the causes for the spread last week was an off-campus party that failed to follow the safety guidelines suggested by the Pandemic Task Force.
In response to this, the task force sent out new guidelines on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for actions students and faculty should be remembering.
New actions included limiting your close contact to one or two people total, avoiding social gatherings of more than six people and staying away from driving with other people outside of your close contacts.
In addition, GC created a non-compliance form for students to anonymously report students or employees not following the Big Four. Repeated violations, the email said, would go through the conduct review board process.
The outbreak is part of a larger trend at local, statewide and national levels.
Indiana has had the ninth-most positive COVID-19 cases over the last seven days and has seen the most hospitalizations due to the coronavirus within the state since May 19.
At GC, numbers of individuals either in quarantine, isolation or awaiting a COVID-19 test have surpassed 100, according to Kevin Miller, lead contact tracer.
The original plan from the Pandemic Task Force was to isolate positive cases in Kenwood House and quarantine students who were in contact with positive individuals on floors one and two of the Miller dormitory.
Since numbers have surpassed initial expectations, the college was forced to expand housing options for those affected by the coronavirus.
Now, Chad Coleman, director of campus safety and housing operations, is monitoring available living spaces in the Romero apartments and working with Residence Life coordinators to move students into rooms where they can isolate or quarantine.
When Stuart Aeschliman, a senior, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, Oct. 14, he was moved from his apartment on the second floor of the Romero apartments, to a single-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor.
Although he’s grateful for having a clean space to move to, better communication and accommodations could be made, he said.
“I have some concerns about the way the college is caring for people in isolation,” Aeschliman said. “I was given little to no instruction about guidelines, and I’ve yet to be contacted about my physical well-being.”
As a fourth-year student, Aeschliman feels as though he is better equipped to deal with the isolation than others might be.
“Personally, I’ve been OK because my symptoms haven’t been very severe and as a senior, I’ve been living on my own for a few years now and thanks to my friends and the extended family I have in the area, I have felt taken care of these past few days,” he said. “But, for students who don’t have these connections, I worry that Goshen College isn’t doing enough.”
Aeschliman cited an instance where he wasn’t provided lunch the day after he began isolation as an example.
There are still plenty of open spaces available despite having 24 (22 as of Oct. 17) active cases in isolation among students and 66 (70 as of Oct. 17) in quarantine, according to Coleman.
There is room for seven students to be quarantined in Miller, one to be isolated in Kenwood and up to five in the Romero apartments, he said.
“We have a little wiggle room right now,” Coleman said. “But if we had some massive [outbreak] like we did last Thursday and Friday, we’d have to start to explore alternatives.”
One of those alternatives could be the use of the turf rooms and indoor track in the Rec-Fit Center. For more on this and news the pause put on sports activities, see page __.
As part of their response to the uptick in students in quarantine, GC is working with Goshen Family Physicians to make testing available for students who came in contact with somebody who tested positive.
Although it’s early on in the process, Miller said that there’s a real possibility for Goshen Family Physicians to administer tests to students four, five or six days following exposure.