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The Knox Student

COVID-19 Update: Knox cases remain low


Senior Max Caplan gets his temperature checked by Assistant Dean for Student Wellness Janell McGruder upon arriving to campus. (Rob Nguyen/TKS).

Senior Max Caplan gets his temperature checked by Assistant Dean for Student Wellness Janell McGruder upon arriving to campus. (Rob Nguyen/TKS).

Administration attributes success to student responsibility.

With two months passed since students first returned to Knox’s campus, the school has successfully maintained low numbers of positive COVID-19 tests. 

The school reports that it has administered about 2500 COVID-19 tests to the Knox community since late August, among which a total of 25 positive cases have been detected. 

Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich described the numbers in an interview with TKS as a pleasant surprise. While she did not believe the school would see a major outbreak, she was concerned in early September by reports from other colleges of campus parties and students not wearing masks. 

“I was nervous about that because you all have been gone for so long and you want to see each other again — but that really hasn’t materialized. And that saved us,” Ehrlich said.

Cases of students violating the campus protocols have been rare according to Ehrlich, with it being apparent that students are taking the rules seriously.  

Ehrlich discussed a case last week of three students who were placed in quarantine after they self-reported their contact with a recent approved visitor to campus who later tested positive for the virus. She described the case as exhibiting how forthcoming students have been with Health Services. 

The school’s COVID testing has been overseen by Health Services’ Nurse Practitioner Abby Putnam. Knox has been conducting surveillance testing, with a random 10% of campus being brought in for tests weekly. 

Ehrlich says students have been completely compliant with showing up to these random tests when requested, and that the school is also seeing all students comply with their daily online logging of symptoms — which Ehrlich also described as a positive surprise.

While the school currently has a positive outlook on its ability to manage COVID, Ehrlich described college administration as remaining cautious in handling the threat of the virus — leading to decisions like students’ delayed return to campus this Winter Term. The February return to campus was seen by the administration as the best means of reducing risk while preserving an on campus component to the term. 

The administration’s hope is that students will continue to be mindful of protocols and report to Health Services all visitors and travel outside of Knox County. Ehrlich emphasized that Health Services won’t stop such activities, instead simply accessing the risk and testing needs. 

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