Effective Friday, Dec. 3, Kenyon shifted from Campus Activity Level 3 to Activity Level 1 after reporting only three positive COVID-19 results on Dec. 2 upon return from Thanksgiving break. According to the College’s COVID-19 Dashboard — last updated on Dec. 8 — that number has since increased to five total cases, with four student positives and one employee positive.
The College will require reentry testing for all students between Jan. 18 and Jan. 20 upon return from winter break. However, Peirce Dining Hall will be open for indoor dining, according to Vice President for Facilities, Planning, and Sustainability, Ian Smith.
The low number of positive COVID-19 tests following the return from Thanksgiving break represents a marked change from earlier in the semester: In September and October, the College saw two separate outbreaks, as students returned from summer vacation and October break.
During the surge in September, a lack of reentry testing, isolation housing and contradictory guidance led to outrage among students and faculty, prompting the College to change its COVID-19 policies.
Following suit, the College also amended its post-break protocols for the most recent break, requiring all students to undergo mandatory reentry testing between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1,while also implementing heightened restrictions in line with Campus Activity Level 3. During that time, students were prohibited from eating in Peirce Dining Hall, informal student gatherings were capped at 10 people and the Lowry Center had restricted hours.
President Sean Decatur was satisfied with the results of the reentry testing. “I think that [we were] just really pleased with the outcome of testing and the fact that the number of positives was incredibly low,” he said.
In reflecting on the success of this return in comparison to the return to campus in August, Smith credited the virus’continually changing and unpredictable nature.
“As more time passes with COVID-19, many people are figuring out how to safely live with COVID-19. While this does influence low numbers, virus transmission is often complicated by human dynamics which can make many surges (like September) as unpredictable as low case counts like now,” he wrote in a statement to the Collegian.
With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio and around the country, as well as the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant around the globe, some juniors who plan to study abroad in the spring are concerned they will be unable to do so.
Djibril Branche ’23 expressed his concern about his plans to study abroad in Jordan. “My biggest fear is that it’d be cancelled either before I go or midway through,” he said. Branche was also skeptical that there would be enough housing in the spring semester if a majority of juniors who intended to go abroad are forced to return to campus.
Smith noted that despite the rise of omicron, he remained confident that off-campus programs will continue as planned. He also noted that the COVID-19 Steering Committee would work with the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) to monitor the situation and plan for contingencies. He also said that the steering committee is working with the Office of Residential Life to ensure that all students will be guaranteed housing in the event Off-Campus Study (OCS) programs are canceled.
“If OCS programs decide to cancel their programs due to COVID-19, Residential Life advises that its current numbers will allow all students (including those unable to attend OCS programs and those returning from Copenhagen) to receive a housing placement,” he wrote.