After a week of in-person classes, no Hillsdale College students have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Dean of Men Aaron Petersen. Five students who showed symptoms have tested negative, and five more currently await test results.
“I think the students came here ready to do their part, especially with all the precautionary measures to help us get through these first two weeks,” Petersen said. “For the most part, it’s been a spirit of cooperation and cautiousness. I look forward to when we can get back to normal.”
President Larry Arnn and college administrators have asked students to wear masks on campus and to practice social distancing. Students also undergo daily temperature checks. Those with normal temperatures receive color-coded stickers which must be displayed while on campus in order to enter the dining hall.
In addition, 63 cross-country, golf, and tennis athletes and coaches have tested negative for the virus, according to Athletic Director Don Brubacher. The NCAA required all student athletes to be tested when they arrived on campus, even if they did not show symptoms of coronavirus.
Student athletes must receive additional temperature tests before practices, games, and meets. Those who report “any symptom whatsoever” and at any time are immediately tested, Brubacher said.
“We test one or two every day so we can be certain about it,” he added.
Simpson Residence Head Resident Advisor Barrett Moore, a senior, said every dorm has been tasked with making sure all residents get their temperatures checked in the morning before leaving for class.
“We offer morning temperature tests at 7:15 a.m., 7:45 a.m., and 8:30 a.m., and the RA’s have a rotation for that,” Moore said.
“Everyone gets up for at least one check,” Moore said. “Right now, to a degree, everyone’s morning is centered around doing that before doing what you need to do.”
Like Simpson, other dormitories and Greek houses require daily testing, with house moms and resident assistants conducting temperature and symptom checks.Testing is performed on a rolling basis, giving students multiple opportunities for a health check no matter where they live. In the Pi Beta Phi sorority, roommates are required to sleep with their heads at opposite sides of the room. All Greek houses are required to prepare food to-go.
“Everyone’s being compliant and has a good attitude about it. No one’s complaining. We are all just grateful to be here,” Moore added.
On Sept. 1, Adrian College, a 40-minute drive east of Hillsdale with a population of about 1,800 students, reported 152 cases of coronavirus among students and staff, according to MLive. Central Michigan University reported 178 suspected and probable cases since reopening this fall. The Central Michigan District Health Department, separate from the university, declared a public health emergency in Mount Pleasant and Union Township where the campus is located.
Kalamazoo College cancelled its in-person classes last week following the examples of Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University. More than 100,000 Michiganders have contracted coronavirus and nearly 6,500 have died from it since March.
All students who have experienced symptoms at Hillsdale are expected to report to Stephanie Gravel, the college’s health care liaison. Should students show symptoms, they will be quarantined in the townhouses. The college administration is updated daily as well, Petersen said.
“Our students are honest and want to be helpful,” Petersen said. “Plus, I suspect no one wants to jeopardize our having in-person classes. They want to take care of their community. I know a lot of students have said they want to make sure their professors aren’t in harm’s way. They are just being cautious and forthright.”
An earlier version of this article failed to include Stephanie Gravel’s full title as health care liaison for the college.
Students experiencing symptoms of coronavirus should follow the steps on the Hillsdale GO app under “coronavirus questionnaire” and call the health center, where nurses will be on call 24/7. From there, the deans’ offices and health center staff will help the student arrange logistics.