On Friday, April 9, the College lifted the two-week-long quiet period after receiving just five positive student tests of the 1,142 taken last week, for a positivity rate of 0.44%. As of Wednesday, there are five active student cases — all of which were identified last week. There are also 38 students in quarantine and one active employee case.
In order to ensure the most accurate student data, the College tested all students in residence again this week, and asked students to complete a vaccination survey to assess campus immunity. As of Wednesday, the College has received 611 responses to the survey, and Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith said that Kenyon expects to release the survey results once it evaluates the data.
Smith noted that, should the results of the survey indicate that the student body has reached herd immunity, the COVID-19 Steering Committee will reevaluate the College’s safety precautions in consultation with Knox Public Health (KPH). “It is too early to speculate regarding any rule amendment,” Smith wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 announced on Tuesday that the College would be modifying COVID-19 restrictions for events and gatherings: Provided that individuals adhere to social distancing and mask wearing, events of up to 25 people are now permitted, and students are now allowed two guests per resident in their residence halls.
This news comes over a week after Kenyon hosted an on-campus Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic, where KPH and the College administered 163 doses of the vaccine to students, faculty and staff. However, this week, the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been temporarily paused due to six incidents of blood clotting in women who have received the vaccine.
In Ohio, many of the Johnson & Johnson doses were given to mass vaccination clinics, as well as 63 public and private 4-year universities. Gov. Mike DeWine said that many of these clinics will go forward with offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. However, eight of those sites will not go forward with their clinics.
In an email to students, Bonham encouraged those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to monitor their health and “watch for potential symptoms such as severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of getting the shot.”
President Sean Decatur acknowledged the setback of this recent Johnson & Johnson news, and what this might mean for potential future on-campus vaccine clinics. “Certainly, this pause complicates things,” he said.
However, distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is still underway. Bonham encouraged students, faculty and staff to attend the open clinic at Centerburg High School on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine if they have not already been otherwise vaccinated.
Students who have not already completed the College’s vaccination survey can do so here.