This article was published on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. For the most up-to-date GC COVID-19 numbers, visit the GC COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

As new positive COVID-19 cases on campus have trended downward in the last two weeks, the Pandemic Task Force has rolled out their plan to bring testing to student groups and student-athletes in an attempt to stay ahead of any uptick in cases before Thanksgiving. 

This news comes just as Elkhart County saw its highest number of new positive cases peak at 234 on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In an initial email from the Pandemic Task Force on Oct. 30, they clarified that the groups set to receive testing would include musical groups, small group housing and residence life staff and leaders.

Elsie Koop Liechty, a senior, is a resident of Howell House, one of the small group housing options on campus. She said the college encouraged but didn’t require the 10 people living in their house to get tested.

Since that note, all but two within the house have been tested and returned negative.

“I am really happy that the college has started to do more surveillance testing and that small group housing was included in it,” Koop Liechty said. “It has definitely calmed some anxieties within the house to get those negative results back.”

These early testing initiatives, President Rebecca Stoltzfus said, are another way the college can keep status of the overall health on campus.

“It can also make us all feel more confident in the health of our community,” she said.

Musical groups on campus were also given the option to get tested ahead of the orchestra concert on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Sauder Concert Hall. 

For student-athletes and coaches resuming athletics this week and moving forward, testing is mandatory. 

In an email from Student Life, student-athletes were guaranteed rapid or PCR testing prior to resuming competition, however for the men’s soccer team, the results will be too late.

Ahead of their final game this evening, all men’s soccer players and coaches were required to get a PCR test. However, since these tests don’t accrue results until 2-3 days following the swab, the team will play their final game without knowing the status of their tests results.

Still, the lower number of cases on campus in the last few weeks was an indicator to administrators that it was OK to continue competition.

“Athletic schedules have been crazy to set this year, so we didn't want to throw another wrench into the good planning of the Crossroads League athletic directors,” President Stoltzfus said.

Continued surveillance testing for the rest of campus is projected to increase as time goes on according to President Stoltzfus.

“We will also offer surveillance tests to all students this month, as we focus on sending students home safely for Thanksgiving,” she said. “We are considering several options for testing as students return to campus, with no decisions taken yet.”

Students are encouraged to continue limiting their off-campus travel ahead of winter break to ensure students head home in good health.