After 61 positive COVID-19 tests on campus in the span of a week, The College of Wooster announced this past Friday, Oct. 16, that its students would be completing the semester remotely.
“I know this is tremendous disappointment, and I am so very sorry,” President of The College of Wooster Sarah Bolton wrote to students in an update on Friday. “However, we believe this pivot is the best interest of everyone’s health.”
The decision, which the College made in consultation with the Wayne County Public Health Department and The Ohio State University, comes after a week of increased restrictions on campus, including a shift to entirely remote classes, takeout meals from the dining hall and a ban on in-person social gatherings.
These restrictions came after Bolton announced six additional positive test results on Saturday, Oct. 10, all of which apparently were “related to two clusters of individuals with connected living and social circles.” As the week continued, the College confirmed that the cases on campus were linked to these clusters, members of which had participated in “social gatherings/parties.” By the end of the week, the campus had reported a multitude of positive test results.
Though courses will continue online for the remainder of the fall semester, Wooster is not requiring its students to vacate campus. The College did say, however, that those who do so should plan to quarantine themselves for a 14-day period once they arrive home and wear masks when around family during that time. They will also receive a prorated refund for the room and board costs they have already paid.
President Sean Decatur expressed concern towards the recent events at one of Kenyon’s peer institutions, and felt that they reemphasized the potential for an outbreak on even the smallest of college campuses. “It’s a slightly depressing lesson to take away, but our situation — with respect to the presence of the virus — is incredibly fragile at any given moment,” he said. Still, Decatur remained confident in Kenyon’s precautions against a similar outbreak.
The College of Wooster hopes to announce its plans for the spring semester by Nov. 10.