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Current Conditions | Testing | Isolation/Quarantine | Vaccination | Events & Travel
What is the College doing to respond to current conditions on campus?
Our response efforts have been focused in four key areas:
Limiting activities where the risk of transmission is higher. These include unsupervised activities where masking cannot be enforced, where access and capacity cannot be managed, and where contact-tracing would be harder to conduct should a case be detected.
Expanding our on-campus capacity for testing students who have COVID symptoms. Symptomatic COVID cases pose the greatest risk of transmission.
Expanding our screening to include asymptomatic vaccinated students. We recognize that because individuals may test positive for COVID long after exposure — and if they are vaccinated, they may have never developed symptoms — such screening may result in isolating fully healthy individuals who represent a very low risk of spread. But many students are understandably concerned about the rapid rise in cases, as are we, and they are pursuing testing on their own. By expanding our on-campus testing program, we can ensure that they are getting a PCR test, which is more reliable than a self-administered rapid antigen test, and that results are reported uniformly for all tests.
Adding contingencies to our isolation and quarantine protocols to maximize limited public health resources and protect our capacity to care for the community. These include encouraging students to isolate at home if they are within driving distance to preserve isolation housing capacity; establishing a designated meal pick-up location for students in quarantine and isolation to preserve meal-delivery service for those who need it most; and being prepared to have vaccinated students who have no symptoms isolate in their room, as the risk of infection or serious illness is low.
Why weren’t all students tested upon arrival?
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people with no symptoms or documented exposure to COVID be exempt from routine screening. The reason for this is that healthy individuals may test positive for COVID long after exposure, and if they are vaccinated, they may have never developed symptoms. Such screening may thus result in isolating fully healthy individuals who represent a very low risk of spread. It also puts a strain on the ability of the College and the local public health authorities to meet the needs of those who are actually sick.
Why, then, did the College decide to expand its surveillance testing to include vaccinated students?
Many students are understandably concerned about the rapid rise in cases, as are we, and they are pursuing testing on their own. By expanding our on-campus testing program, we can ensure that they are getting a PCR test, which is more reliable than a self-administered rapid antigen test, and that results are reported uniformly for all tests. Please note that a positive test result cannot be negated by a later negative result, even if a false positive is suspected. Knox Public Health states that anyone who tests positive should remain in isolation for 10 days following their test — details of their policy are here.
If students have symptoms, where can they get tested on campus, and how quickly?
While Kenyon is conducting baseline testing, symptomatic students may get tested at the College’s mass testing center. Otherwise, students with symptoms should make an appointment at the Cox Health & Counseling Center for a medical evaluation. Upper respiratory illnesses are historically our top diagnosis, even before COVID, because it includes common illnesses like colds and the flu. In fact, about 85% of the COVID tests administered at the health center this semester have been negative, so we know that other viruses are circulating on campus, as they do every year. A medical assessment will allow us to rule out other causes and determine the best treatment. We are continuing to explore options to increase symptomatic testing capacity.
Will students who test positive be moved to isolation housing, or will they isolate in their rooms?
In addition to the College-owned housing designated for isolation, we have secured a block of rooms at a nearby hotel to use as isolation housing for the remainder of the academic year. To preserve isolation housing, students who test positive will be encouraged to complete their isolation at home if they live within driving distance and feel well enough to travel by private vehicle. If this is not possible, they will be moved to isolation housing as long as rooms are available. If cases exceed available isolation housing, as is currently the case, students will isolate in their room. A small number of rooms on and off campus have been reserved for roommates of isolating students who prefer to relocate temporarily. Isolation and relocation spaces will be allocated as available; regrettably, the local housing supply is limited and there are no additional rentals suitable for our use.
Students isolating on campus must remain in their assigned isolation space. They may leave only to pick up food from Peirce, use the restroom or get some fresh air in the immediate vicinity of their assigned space. At all times, they must remain masked and distanced from others. No guests are allowed in any isolation space, and isolated students are not permitted to enter any campus building besides Peirce and the Cox Health & Counseling Center, and they should not enter any local businesses. Failure to comply with isolation protocols is a violation of the Student Conduct Addendum and will result in disciplinary action.
Can students isolate at home?
Yes. Knox Public Health and Kenyon support students completing their isolation at home, as students often recover best in a familiar space and with connection to loved ones. Students who choose this option must complete their full isolation at home and are responsible for coordinating with faculty members and/or classmates about their courses. The CDC offers guidance on how to isolate in a shared household while minimizing the risk of spreading infection to family members. If students do not feel well enough to travel or cannot travel in a private vehicle, they complete their isolation at Kenyon.
What guidance do you have for roommates or housemates of students who are isolating in their rooms?
Roommates will be identified as close contacts, just like family members in the same household, and required to quarantine (whether or not they continue to share a space). There are steps members of the same household can take to minimize the risk of transmission while someone is isolating at home: Do your best to avoid close contact with one another, and wear a mask properly whenever around others. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Clean shared spaces such as restrooms after use. We know this may be unsettling, but for vaccinated individuals the risk of infection and serious illness is low.
What provisions is the College making for the care of students in isolation?
While most vaccinated people report having mild symptoms, any student who needs medical support or assistance may contact the Cox Health & Counseling Services during business hours (740-427-5525, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Campus Safety (740-427-5555) after hours. Local fire departments can complete a medical assessment and/or transport students to Knox Community Hospital.
How are meals provided for students in quarantine and isolation?
Meal service varies based on a student’s type and location of quarantine or isolation:
Asymptomatic, vaccinated students in quarantine on campus: Students may pick up takeout meals from Peirce Dining Hall, as they represent a low risk of infection.
Symptomatic students in quarantine or students in isolation on campus: Students may pick up takeout meals from a designated area in Peirce Dining Hall, away from the service and dining areas used by the general student population. Students may also have friends bring food to their door. In the event that a student is too ill to visit Peirce (and other students are not able to assist), a box of essentials — enough for three days — will be delivered to their door. Students are provided with contact information for a coordinator who can arrange these deliveries and take into account any dietary restrictions. Please know that while dining staff are doing their best to provide a variety of satisfactory meals, selections may be limited.
Students in isolation off campus: Students staying at The Pines have access to kitchens and will receive separate instructions about ordering food through Instacart. Orders will be delivered directly to students’ units. Those staying at the Comfort Inn do not have access to kitchens. Three meals per day Monday through Friday and two meals on Saturday and Sunday will be delivered.
Can students attend class while in quarantine or isolation? If not, what arrangements can be made to keep up with coursework?
Asymptomatic, vaccinated students in quarantine may attend class, as they represent a low risk of infection. Symptomatic students in quarantine and students in isolation may not attend class. Faculty will work with students to handle coursework as they would with any other extended illness. This will vary by class as each class has different components and requirements.
How did the College determine how much isolation housing it would need? Can it secure more?
We estimated our isolation housing needs based on our experience last year (we never had more than 18 students in isolation and quarantine at any one time); we also took into account the fact that we would have more students on campus and that they would be vaccinated. When breakthrough infections began to be reported at higher rates than expected, the College secured additional isolation housing, exhausting the local housing supply. Unlike last year, hotels and rentals are open to the public and there are no additional beds available for our use at this time.
Why has the College not mandated vaccination for employees?
A vast majority of Kenyon employees have made the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. To date, of all employees (faculty, staff, union): 79.3% of employees are fully vaccinated. Another 14.5% of employees have not yet reported their vaccination status. We are actively considering extending our mandate to employees given the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccine and proposed federal rules for employers with more than 100 employees.
Of the COVID-19 positive test results that have recently been received on campus, how many are from vaccinated (“breakthrough cases”) vs. unvaccinated students and employees?
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals have received positive test results, meaning that, not surprisingly, some breakthrough cases have occurred, as is expected to some degree in all vaccinated populations.
Events & Travel
Will Family Weekend continue as planned? Will students be able to travel for fall and Thanksgiving breaks?
At this time, we have not made any adjustments to the fall calendar and very much hope to be able to welcome families to campus in late October, with modified programs in consideration of COVID conditions.