Amidst multiple quiet periods, controversial quarantine procedures and various outbreaks, Kenyon has kept its COVID-19 numbers relatively low throughout the 2020-21 academic year: It has totaled 67 positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 57 of which occurred in the spring semester. With approximately 1,100 on-campus students in fall 2020 and 1,260 in spring 2021, the College will complete the 2020-2021 academic year with a positivity rate of roughly 2.3%.
As of Wednesday, there are three active COVID-19 cases among students on campus and four students currently in quarantine. Additionally, 438 students are exempt from testing after reaching the two-week full vaccination threshold, according to Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith. Kenyon students who do not meet this requirement still must receive weekly tests, which have moved from the Toan Track at the Lowry Center to the Gund Commons Ballroom.
A news bulletin from Wednesday indicates that testing will likely slow down, as nearly 1,100 students and more than 450 employees have submitted vaccination records. The bulletin also states that wearing masks indoors and outdoors in the presence of others will remain College policies through the end of the spring semester.
Looking forward to fall 2021, Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, noted that — with only certain exceptions — all students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return in fall 2021, although the COVID-19 Steering Committee has not yet decided on an analogous policy for employees. Bonham also suggested that some COVID-19 restrictions for students will continue into fall 2021, though they are subject to change depending on public health guidance.
President Sean Decatur noted that he feels confident in Kenyon’s plan to resume an entirely residential program next semester. With a fully vaccinated student body in the fall, Decatur said he expects that social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines may be loosened, though not with a complete return to normalcy. “I hesitate to say ‘back to normal’ because I don’t really think everything will be the same as it was in 2019,” he said. “But all indications are that fall 2021 will look an awful lot more like fall 2019 than it does like fall of 2020.”