On Monday, the College sent a news bulletin lifting the extended quiet period — nearly a week before it was scheduled to end — after receiving only three positive results out of 1,157 tests in the past week, for a campus positivity rate of 0.26%. As of Wednesday, there are 38 students in quarantine, as well as eight active cases: five students and three employees.
This news comes a week and a half after the campus positivity rate nearly doubled from just under 0.5% to 0.9%, leading the College to extend the quiet period until Feb. 28 from its original Feb. 15 end date.
The end of the quiet period means that study lounges and other common areas will start to open, students are allowed to gather in small groups of under 10 people indoors and students can have one Kenyon guest in their room. Additionally, athletics and extracurricular activities will resume in accordance with the College’s COVID-19 guidelines. Moreover, instead of all students being tested weekly, 25% of students will be tested each week, starting next week.
In an email to the Collegian, Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 acknowledged that these last few weeks were “challenging” for students, who have dealt with quiet period restrictions since arriving on campus during the last week of January. She expressed gratitude that students have complied with the COVID-19 guidelines during this extension.
“My colleagues and I are very appreciative of how everyone did their part in following health and safety practices, thereby contributing to the reduction in positive COVID tests,” she said.
Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith said that he, too, is “thrilled” for students. KAt the same time, he reminded students to stay vigilant about following guidelines.
“[Students] really need to take precautions seriously,” he said. “I think we’ve been given an opportunity to exit the quiet period and keep out of the quiet period.”
Smith noted that the College will continue to actively monitor the data and adjust the alert levels when necessary. Though the College has returned to a base level of alert, Knox County remains at a red level, which refers to a high risk of exposure and spread. As of Wednesday, there are 99 active cases in Knox County. In addition, the United States recently surpassed 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19.
To ensure that the Kenyon community remains safe, the College is providing each student with 100 triple-layer surgical masks in order to encourage the practice of double masking recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Students can pick up these masks over the course of this week during their scheduled COVID-19 test at the Lowry Center. In addition, students in isolation, quarantine or temporarily exempt from COVID-19 testing will be notified as to how they can pick up their masks. Masks will be made available for essential workers at the Office of Campus Safety, Peirce Dining Hall and the Maintenance Department.
Updates about COVID-19 can be found on the College’s COVID-19 Dashboard.