Gordon college’s ongoing response persists through a range of coronavirus safeguards and COVID-19 testing, as the school continues the call to “love your neighbor.”
As September ends and the color of the leaves begin to change, the ongoing combat against the coronavirus does not. Gordon college’s safety procedures have remained strong as students maintain the six-feet distance in class and social areas, as well as wearing masks when in a public space.
Although, where this remains constant throughout almost all colleges throughout the nation, there are a variety of approaches regarding COVID-19 testing strategies, ranging from frequent universal testing to no campus-based testing at all. Upon arrival students had to produce a negative COVID test prior to moving in and then a campus-wide test was held two weeks after by the Broad Institute with the PCR test.
Chris Jones, the Associate Vice President for Human Resources at Gordon College, is ahead of all COVID testing on campus. He says that Gordon, as well as every other college, are doing their best to find a balance of how best to keep coronavirus as low as possible on their campus.
“One of the things is, that thankfully we’re small enough that we can kind of pivot is needed on testing strategy. So, as you know, we did sort of a two-prong approach. Everyone had o come with a negative test,” said Jones. “When we did the test, the mass test, we only found a couple of cases. So super-low incidence rates on campus, which was very promising, obviously.”
Comparing Gordon College to other colleges is a difficult feat, due to the small size and number of students present on campus. According to Jones, as of right now, there are 1298 students and only six have tested positive in the time students have been on campus, which is much less than one percent.
Whereas larger campuses such as Boston College have 130 cases. Jones goes on later to express that yes, he has seen students closer than six feet or not wearing a mask outside of their households, but this was inevitable and most take it very seriously. But overall, he thinks the best course of action is to have students remain on campus and if they do leave, students must inform the school.
Each college is figuring it all out as they go, therefore the amount of testing per week for each college is all over the map. For Gordon, outside of the three campus-wide testings, there continues to be testing going on throughout each week. According to Tucker Van Brunt, a student Presidential Fellow for the office of AVP for Human Resources, COVID-19 testings have not stopped and are continuing to go on throughout each day.
“We’re definitely testing the athletes regularly. We’re also testing people who have symptoms and we’re testing and people that do have symptoms, and people who do have symptoms we test them and it’s, ‘oh! this actually wasn’t anything,’” said Van Brunt. “So, we’re definitely doing a lot of testing, but just not on a large grand scale, just because it’s not big and flashy, out there, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening … we’re actually actively testing students several times a week.”
Jones adds that student teachers are being tested regularly as well and almost all of those showing up with low-case symptoms have been tested negatively.
Overall, even though COVID testing and life on campus is much different, Gordon students and the protocols put in place have been successful this far. Dan Tymann, Executive Vice President for Campus Life is placed in the perfect spot to hear from all sides: students, faculty, and all of the administration.
“My sense is that Students appreciate so greatly being on campus and wanting to continue other schools like Merrimack College is closed,” said Tymann. “So in terms of on-campus classes that they’re willing to make sacrifices to stay on campus… But at the end of the day, our results have been excellent and I don’t think we could have done better than where we are right now.”