Dear Kenyon families,
As the spring semester begins with a quiet period on campus, we hope your student will soon find their own remote routine. We have no doubt they are missing the friendships and connections they forged on campus and we continue to develop ways to support those bonds.
As was our practice last semester, we will send these weekly updates to you in an effort to keep you informed and connected to the specifics of all the College is doing to ensure community health on-campus this semester.
The following message was sent to students and employees today.
Dear Kenyon College community,
Over the past year, we have expanded our capacity — as individuals and as an institution — to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and we benefit from that collective knowledge as we enter the spring semester.
The College’s start-of-semester testing protocols have so far yielded seven confirmed student cases among the roughly 1,250 students on campus this spring. These students have been transitioned to isolation at the Comfort Inn, and their close contacts have been contacted and instructed to remain in quarantine. While we are no doubt facing a more active COVID situation than at the beginning of the fall semester, we have protocols in place to deal with the situation, and they are being implemented effectively. For a full view of Kenyon’s COVID-19 data, please visit our dashboard, which is updated weekdays around 6 p.m. ET and will reflect the latest data at that time. You can opt in to daily dashboard reminders by submitting this form.
Please remember: Not every positive test result correlates with a confirmed case. (For example, individuals may be tested multiple times during an illness, or they may test positive following recovery, when traces of the virus remain in their body but they are no longer contagious to others.)
Quiet Period Guidelines
As a reminder, campus will remain in a quiet period (PDF) until Feb. 15, when students will have concluded their first three rounds of COVID-19 testing. Students may begin dining in Peirce on Feb. 8 provided they have received at least two negative test results. During the quiet period, please minimize movement around campus as well as interactions with others. (Outdoor meetings are acceptable, provided they are kept to under 10 people who are masked and physically distanced.) The Lowry Center reopened for limited hours this past Monday, Feb. 1, and will resume regular hours Feb. 15; please refer to the Jan. 27 email sent by athletics for more information.
Students, please remember that failing to comply with testing or violating other components of the quiet period will subject you to disciplinary action, including the possibility of interim suspension and immediate removal from campus.
Information on Employee Testing and Vaccinations
Employees regularly returning to campus for work participated in baseline testing in mid-January, with the goal of establishing safe conditions before students arrived on campus. More than 800 tests were administered, with only two positive results thus far. Moving forward, all employees are required to monitor their symptoms daily, and to comply with all public health guidelines. Employees who experience symptoms or who are notified that they have been exposed to a confirmed case should consult with their health care provider and seek a COVID test if instructed to do so. They should also inform their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources, and follow all other procedures described in Kenyon’s Return to Campus Protocols. While Knox Public Health (KPH) has shifted its focus to vaccination, COVID tests are still provided by Knox Community Hospital Urgent Care, at the Knox Community Hospital Lab, and at CVS, and they should be fully covered by Kenyon health insurance. Kenyon will not be providing Everlywell kits for such follow-up testing, since these are medical decisions, though further surveillance testing of employees may be implemented if the conditions on campus warrant it.
Kenyon is in close communication with KPH about vaccination opportunities. In Ohio’s phased COVID Vaccination Program, Phase 1B includes adults working in K-12 education, but no timeline is currently set for the vaccination of individuals working in higher education. As further information becomes available, we will share it with all of Kenyon’s students and employees.
All of our public health practices remain in place from last semester. All students and employees (including those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine) are expected to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing, wash their hands regularly, and check their symptoms daily. Like last semester, students will participate in surveillance testing on a continuous basis, with roughly one quarter of the student body tested each week, and more when conditions warrant. With a grant from the Ohio Department of Health, Kenyon has also expanded wastewater testing, allowing the College to assess the presence of the virus in the residences of two-thirds of our student population, twice a week. Classroom seating arrangements accommodate physical distancing, room capacities are clearly posted, and many buildings have labeled traffic patterns to limit potential contacts. For courses requiring specific considerations, such as labs and studios, departments have developed specific guidance for instructors and students. Campus events and gatherings are being closely regulated and monitored, with an eye on changing campus conditions. The primary goal at all times is to keep the campus community safe.
Students, no matter where you are studying this semester, you may be approaching this spring with a range of emotions. The Cox Health and Counseling staff (including several new members) are eager to connect with you, and while state licensure laws limit telemental health appointments to those physically located in the state of Ohio, Cox Center staff can help students outside the state of Ohio identify providers in their area. Please visit their website for more specific information about resources, including how to access Talkspace, a text-based therapy service, and to reach ProtoCall, a 24/7 emergency call-in service (accessible by calling Campus Safety at 740-427-5000).
Chris Smith, MPH
Director, Cox Health and Counseling Center
Director of Human Resources