COVID-19 Update: Quiet period to take effect through April 2

On March 26, President Decatur announced a shift to a moderate level of alert and a quiet period.

Date

Dear Kenyon campus community,

Many of us, myself included, have felt much hope on the horizon, given the accelerating rollout of vaccines nationally and here in Knox County. Yet we must balance our optimism with vigilance. Testing data from this week has indicated rising COVID-19 positivity on our campus; we have received three positive student results this week, and with 14 students in quarantine, including symptomatic close contacts, we may see more positive results later today. 

Given the recent data, we are shifting to a moderate level of alert and entering a quiet period, effective at 4 p.m. today, March 26, through Friday, April 2. We will reevaluate conditions as we receive test results next week. 

The following guidelines will be in place:

Testing

All students in residence will undergo COVID-19 testing next week, including students who have been partially or fully vaccinated. We also are adjusting our testing policy to include close contacts of those in quarantine or isolation; Cox Center Director Chris Smith will communicate directly with those close contacts regarding testing. Testing will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Lowry Center’s Toan Track and will follow different grouping than has been previously used this semester. The testing schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, March 29: Last names A-F

  • Tuesday, March 30: Last names G-M

  • Wednesday, March 31: Last names N-Z

If you cannot make your designated testing day due to inflexible circumstances, please email COVID Support Coordinator Tristan Neviska: neviskatj@kenyon.edu

Dining

All student meals are available for takeout only, starting with dinner today. This includes extended dining. Outdoor seating will be available near Peirce Dining Hall. Students in quarantine will continue to pick up their meals from Peirce Pub, using a dedicated entrance on the north side of the building to access the lower level. Students with mobility concerns will be able to arrange accommodations.

Student Gatherings and Guests

Study lounges and other common spaces are closed. There can be no in-person extracurricular activities, including club sports, indoors or outdoors. Informal gatherings of 10 or fewer persons, masked and following distancing guidelines, may take place outdoors. Students may have up to one guest in their residence hall rooms/apartments. 

Student Work

During quiet periods and other times when activities are temporarily restricted due to COVID conditions, students may attend classes in person but on-site student work may be limited. Supervisors are encouraged to identify opportunities for remote work and, if those are unavailable, to work with students to schedule additional hours when the quiet period ends. 

Our policies are intended to provide students and supervisors with the flexibility needed to tailor projects and schedules around COVID disruptions. However, if students face financial hardship due to a loss of income of any kind, including income expected during the academic year, I encourage them to request emergency relief funds by completing this brief online form. This is open to students whether or not they are receiving other financial aid. Once a request is granted, students receive funds as a check.

Athletics

Regrettably, we cannot allow competitions scheduled during this quiet period to proceed. We know this news is disappointing for student-athletes and athletics staff who have been preparing for competition this spring. To avoid risk of injury once competition resumes, we are allowing varsity teams to continue training, with mandatory masking through practices and an increased emphasis on physical distancing. Students with questions should contact their coach.

The Lowry Center will remain open to students and employees, who must reserve workout times using the KenyonFit app. Partner play will not be allowed, and basketball, racquetball, squash and tennis courts will be limited to one person per court. 

Admissions and Athletics Visitors

Admissions and athletics visitors who have already registered will be allowed to proceed with precautions in place, as per Kenyon’s visitor policy. No new visit registrations will be accepted. Registered visitors include newly admitted members of the Class of 2025 who are being provided with a moderate visit opportunity designed to be short, supervised and safe.

Because admitted students and their parents are determined to visit college campuses regardless of policies in place, providing an opportunity to visit with health and safety guidelines in place is the best way to protect our community. With supervised visits, we can do more to ensure that visitors adhere to campus protocols, including those safety standards. 

Travel

As a reminder, students may not travel outside of Knox County without advance permission from Dean Hart Ruthenbeck. Travel within the county should be limited to essential activities and taken with care given broader public health conditions. Students are still encouraged to attend Knox Public Health’s first-come-first-serve COVID-19 vaccine clinic, held Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mount Vernon High School Energy Fieldhouse. 

Academics and Other Operations

Classes and all other operations will continue as scheduled. 

I recognize these restrictions may not be easy to navigate, particularly when the finish line of the semester feels tantalizingly close. But following these guidelines will allow us to safely continue our learning and living here on campus. We will continue to monitor all our data closely and will not hesitate to adjust course should our assessment of the level of risk change. I am, as ever, grateful for everyone’s partnership in promoting the health and well-being of our Kenyon community.

Sincerely, 

Sean Decatur
President