Section: News

College moves into Activity Level 2 with 18 student cases

On Wednesday, the College transitioned into Activity Level 2 following the latest results of the spring semester’s reentry testing. There are currently 18 active student cases, according to the College’s COVID-19 Dashboard. As of Jan. 26, 59 students and 27 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, with over 1,500 tests being administered between Jan. 3 and Jan. 26.  

As of Tuesday, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Knox County was 81, with 12 deaths in the past two weeks and a test positivity rate of 26%. Also as of Jan. 25, 42% of the county is fully vaccinated.

Under Activity Level 2, or “moderate precaution,” students are required to wear masks indoors with a few exceptions: in their own dorm rooms and while dining and exercising. Indoor events may be held within the 85% target capacity, and sports teams may practice while taking measures to mitigate viral spread. All classes must be held in person by Jan. 31.

The shift to Activity Level 2 loosens Kenyon’s prior COVID-19 restrictions. On Dec. 30, before students returned to campus, the College entered Campus Activity Level 3 as a precaution amidst a national spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious omicron variant. The College also required mandatory testing for all students and employees upon returning from winter break, and that all students receive a COVID-19 booster shot by Feb. 7, in addition to being fully vaccinated. 

As defined by the College, Activity Level 3 is a state of “enhanced precaution” that places restrictions on in-person events and gatherings and requires students to wear masks indoors at all times, with the exception of their own dorm room. Although most classes remained in-person under Level 3, a few began the semester online at the professor’s discretion. These restrictions resembled those made in mid-September following a sharp rise in cases, as well as those made upon students’ return from Thanksgiving break in late November. 

Unlike last semester, Peirce Dining Hall remained open for dine-in meals during Activity Level 3. Chair of the COVID-19 Steering Committee Drew Kerkhoff explained that this was due to the low January temperatures. “Given the winter weather in Ohio and the distance of most private dormitory spaces from the dining hall, for many students take-out would essentially mean many cold walks and mostly cold meals,” Kerkhoff wrote in an email to the Collegian. “And any common spaces where they might choose to eat could easily become more crowded than Peirce.”

All students were subject to mandatory testing upon returning to campus; students who did not take a test by Jan. 21 faced disciplinary action. The College also encouraged students to test themselves at home before arriving on campus, and delay their return to campus to complete isolation if they tested positive. Over 130 students reported testing positive over break, though due to the College’s isolation period being lowered to five days — in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — many were able to return to campus as originally planned. 

Students are required to submit documentation of their booster shot through PyraMED’s student portal by Feb. 7 or face disciplinary action. Students who received their booster at the College’s clinic on Nov. 17 do not need to upload documentation.

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