Wittenberg outlines Protocols for COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation

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A student walks up the central staircase in Hollenbeck Hall on Aug. 16, 2020. The staircase has been designated as the only upward staircase in the building due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to reduce contact between students. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)
A student walks up the central staircase in Hollenbeck Hall on Aug. 16, 2020. The staircase has been designated as the only upward staircase in the building due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to reduce contact between students. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

As schools around the country return to in person learning only to shut down due to positive tests as occurred at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Michigan State and Drexel University, Wittenberg still aims to complete the semester in-person; however, it is only a matter of time until the virus is brought onto campus, for a student at Cedarville University, just 13 miles down the road from Wittenberg, tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 15. As the possibility of a student testing positive for COVID-19 increases, The Wittenberg Torch sought out local and university officials to layout a step-by-step overview of Wittenberg’s protocols for when a student tests positive.

The first step of Wittenberg’s COVID-19 response protocols starts with how students, faculty and staff can report concerns to university officials. These concerns can range from social distancing protocols being ignored to potentially symptomatic students, faculty or staff. To report a concern, students can email covid@wittenberg.edu with their concerns. The other option available is to complete a concern form located on the Wittenberg We’re In This Together webpage at wittenberg.edu/together.

Both options are received by Wittenberg’s COVID-19 response team which includes Casey Gill, Dean of Students, Gary Williams, Director of Athletics and Mary Beth Walters, Director of Human Resources. Once a concern is received, Gill, Williams and Walters use the information provided to determine what the concern regards and what actions are necessary. If needed, the group would contact the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) to begin the process of moving a student into self-quarantine or isolation.

According Charles Patterson, Health Commissioner for CCCHD, the threshold for ordering an individual into self-quarantine would be being within six feet or less distance for 15 minutes or more with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. Also, this threshold applies to both masked and unmasked individuals.

If a student were to meet the criteria outlined by CCCHD, they would be ordered to self-quarantine or isolate, both having different meanings according to Sherri Sadowski, Associate Dean for Residence Life. Quarantine housing at Wittenberg is meant for individuals who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 but have no symptoms. Those who would fit these criteria include students waiting for test results to return from CCCHD. Isolation housing is meant for individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or those that have tested positive.

Wittenberg worked with CCCHD to identify spaces on campus for students to quarantine and isolate. Students who are required to self-quarantine will be able to enjoy a stay at Polis House, located next to Tower Hall. Meanwhile students in isolation will enjoy a stay in the Witten’Burbs according to Sadowski.

Polis House, the quarantine housing location for Wittenberg students, is seen on Aug. 23, 2020. Wittenberg is using the residence hall to house quarantined students until testing results return from the Clark County Combined Health District. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

While students are being moved into quarantine or isolation housing, the CCCHD will be conducting contact tracing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact tracing is the process in which public health officials discover those who potentially came in close contact with infected individuals and having them tested or moved into quarantine.

“We ask that all students and faculty be as open and honest with the contact tracers as possible,” said Patterson of the CCCHD contact-tracing efforts. “Our intent is to help us understand who else has been exposed.”

In order to be released from quarantine and isolation, students have to meet a criteria which Wittenberg released in July. The criteria that students who test positive and exhibiting symptoms must be fever free for three days, Wittenberg considers a temperature higher than 99.9 F to be a fever. In addition, symptoms must have improved while a minimum of ten days have need to have passed since symptoms first appeared to be released from isolation.

Symptoms of the coronavirus according to the CDC. Graphic by Atticus Dewey ’24

Student who test positive for COVID-19 but do not show any symptoms must have ten days pass since the positive test before they are allowed out of isolation, if they continue to be symptom free.

Students who who was found to been in contact with an infected individual through the CCCHD contact tracing procedure while be required to self-quarantine while waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test. If a negative test occurs, students will be allowed to resume daily activities, while a positive test will be moved to isolation housing.

Students who wish to be tested for COVID-19 can receive testing should visit the Clark County Combined Health District website at ccchd.com for an up-to-date list of testing locations in Springfield. Additionally, CCCHD is hoping to push a new testing procedure to local health practices including the Wittenberg Health Clinic soon.

The procedure is known as a supervised self-administered swab. A student would be given a large swab which they would rotate in both nostrils and then place in a container while a physician monitors to ensure the sample is collected correctly. This test procedure would enable more clinics around the county to test as it doesn’t require a high level of personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators.

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