As students return to campus, it brings up concern about COVID numbers rising. Kent State put up guidelines and restrictions to ensure safety for all students and staff while on campus, heavily enforcing the Flashes Safe Seven, which includes wearing a mask, frequently washing hands and maintaining social distance. Although safety precautions like this are put in place, a question remains of whether coming back to campus raises the number of positive cases.

According to the Kent State COVID-19 Task Force, there is no definitive number of positive coronavirus cases that would lead to a change in campus operations. As of right now there are a total of 24 positive cases on campus since June 7; 12 of those occurred since campus has reopened.

Kent State is heavily continuing to monitor the positive cases and number of tests given. Kent is prepared to move all classes virtual for a small period of time, or if needed, for the remainder of the semester. 

“Following the guidance provided by the Kent City Health Department and until further notice, all university-sponsored events, meetings or gatherings of more than 10 people on the Kent campus must be held via virtual technology, including events and activities sponsored by registered student organizations and academic departments,” the University Communication and Marketing team said in a press release Aug. 31. This is with the exception of socially distanced in-person classes.

Looking at other Ohio universities that have also reopened like The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton, the schools have followed similar procedures and all report positive cases to the public. The only major difference is testing and how often it is done at each school. For instance, Ohio State is requiring all on-campus residents to get tested, and randomly testing off-campus residents who report on campus for class. Dayton required all students to be tested before returning to campus. The University of Cincinnati is doing random testing of on-campus residents. Kent State does not require testing but provides testing if an individual has symptoms of COVID-19.  All information on COVID-19 for all of these schools is released to the public through the respective college’s webpage.

Kent State will test students who show symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed or in close contact with a confirmed positive case.

“If you are nonsymptomatic, and would like to receive a test, there are clinics that provide free testing to those who want it. There is just a limited supply of testing statewide so testing without symptoms is limited,” said Linda Lewis of the Ohio Health Department.

Kent State has a Coronavirus Response Team at the DeWeese Health Center dedicated to testing and managing COVID-related information as well as isolation and quarantine procedures. They are posting new information every Tuesday and updating as needed. If numbers begin to drastically rise, Kent State will publicly state the plan of action.

Annika Cronin is a reporter. Contact her at acronin2@kent.edu.

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