COVID-19 Update: Thanksgiving break re-entry testing plan


Dear Kenyon students, staff and faculty,

The fall semester is quickly passing by, and the campus community has proven to be amazingly responsive and resilient in dealing with the challenges the pandemic has given us. Looking ahead, we want to do everything that we can to ensure that the College continues to operate safely, but we also want to acknowledge that conditions have improved in recent weeks. Given the continued presence of the virus on campus and Knox County, and the fact that it continues to spread rapidly in most of the United States, we want to be especially thoughtful about how we approach the end of the semester. Here, we highlight a few specific actions that will allow the campus to take steps towards a more normal day-to-day life while still ensuring that we can make it to the end of the semester safely.

Campus Activity Level 1, effective Monday, Nov. 8

First, for the next two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break, Kenyon will move to Campus Activity Level 1, effective Monday, November 8. Baseline precautions will remain in place, including the use of masks in the classroom and other indoor spaces, but this shift will allow for more social engagement, including food and beverages indoors. We are making this shift based on the fact that case numbers have been consistently low for several weeks despite significant testing on the part of students. We all know what we need to do to prevent spread, and we are confident that everyone can continue to make responsible decisions to protect themselves and the Kenyon community.

Vaccine Booster Clinic, Wednesday, Nov. 17

Second, as previously reported, we are partnering with Knox Public Health to offer a booster clinic on campus for all students and employees. Vaccination remains a critical part of Kenyon's strategy for dealing with COVID-19, and the approval of boosters for all of the major vaccines has opened up an opportunity to further protect our community. The response from the community was enthusiastic and Kenyon and KPH will be offering a clinic on Wednesday, November 17, at the Lowry Center. Further details are forthcoming. Keep in mind that there are many other options available to access vaccines in the area, including boosters. More information on local vaccination resources is available from Knox Public Health.

Comprehensive Re-entry Testing after Thanksgiving Break

Finally, to make sure the semester concludes as smoothly as possible, we will institute a round of comprehensive re-entry testing on return from Thanksgiving break. When students return to campus, mandatory testing will be held from Monday, November 29, through Wednesday, December 1. Students will pick up an Everlywell kit in Gund Commons, and registration and sampling can be completed either in the student’s residence or in testing pods that will be set up in the Gund Ballroom and Game Room. In addition, beginning on Friday, November 26, the campus will move temporarily to Campus Activity Level 3. During this period, Peirce will be take-out only, and student gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 individuals. Classes will continue in person, athletic practices and some registered events will proceed, but other meetings and events will generally be held remotely. We plan for the duration of these enhanced precautions to be through Friday, December 3, by which time we should have test results back and hopefully will return to Campus Activity Level 1. Exiting Level 3 depends both on student participation in testing and on the results remaining within our capacities for isolation housing and case management.

The goal of these actions is that everyone is able to enjoy their Thanksgiving break, to return to campus safely for the last two weeks of class, to complete their exams in person, and to return home for winter break without undue disruptions due to COVID-19. With exams on the horizon, the last two weeks of the semester are already a time of potential stress, and we do not want that to be compounded by disruptions due to COVID-19.

On behalf of the COVID-19 Steering Committee,

Drew Kerkhoff
Chair, COVID-19 Steering Committee
Associate Provost and Professor of Biology