Section: Opinion

The College must respond faster to those who test positive for COVID-19 outside the Health Center’s regular hours

On two separate evenings a few weeks ago, two of my housemates received positive COVID-19 test results after the Health Center had closed for the day. Both times, we immediately called Campus Safety to report these positive tests, and request that my housemates be relocated to isolation housing. Both times, Campus Safety told us to email the already-closed Health Center and wait for a response that would not come until the next day. 

After pressing Campus Safety for my housemates’ immediate relocation, I received a call from the Office of Residential Life. They offered to move my other housemate and I to an empty dorm room on campus if our positive housemates were not able to be relocated to isolation that night. Only after emphasizing the severity of the situation over the phone did Campus Safety send a vehicle to move my positive housemates to isolation housing.

This delay exposes a critical flaw in the College’s COVID-19 response. Campus Safety must be given the capability to relocate positive COVID-19 cases to isolation housing independently of the Health Center’s operating hours. Their ability to identify and move students into available isolation spaces cannot be put on pause at 4:30 p.m., as a positive COVID-19 result can be released late into the evening. As such, if there is space in isolation housing, Kenyon must be able to respond quickly and immediately. Requiring Campus Safety to fully depend on the Health Center’s operating hours limits their ability to keep students — and the greater community — safe.

Quickly relocating students to isolation housing is not about mere convenience. Delaying the relocation of students who live in dorms and apartments is reckless and puts roommates at risk of contracting the virus. Reporting a positive test and asking to be moved to isolation should be a quick conversation — it is vital that we take the health risks of active COVID-19 cases into account, and not put them on the back burner as a chore to be dealt with in the morning. 

Right now, Kenyon is in the middle of another outbreak. Our case count has risen over the past two weeks. We find ourselves at the mercy of negligent COVID-19 policies that fail to grasp the reality that a positive test can come after 4:30 p.m. — transmission of COVID-19 does not stop at dinnertime. If not quickly isolated, a single active case can quickly jump from two, to three, to over 30. Let us enable the Office of Campus Safety to quickly isolate positive cases anytime and anywhere, regardless of the Health Center’s hours of operation.

 

Grant Holt ’22 is a history major from San Gabriel, Calif. He can be reached at holt1@kenyon.edu.

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