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Stu­dents lined up for a health check, which will no longer be required. Courtesy | Kalli Dal­rymple

No Hillsdale College stu­dents have tested pos­itive for COVID-19 since returning to campus last month and attending in-person classes, the college reported Wednesday evening. One student is cur­rently in quar­antine, awaiting test results.

“In every case that we’ve tested stu­dents, it’s come back neg­ative, but that doesn’t mean we don’t expect cases,” said Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé, who has overseen the college’s response to the coro­n­avirus. “We’ve done a great job with contact tracing and getting people tested. We’ve been for­tunate.”

On Monday, the college announced in an email that it would halt mask require­ments in outdoor set­tings, as well as daily tem­per­ature checks and health screenings. Masks are still required in indoor public spaces, physical dis­tancing is encouraged, and stu­dents must report symptoms of sickness. 

Péwé said the college believes there may have been pos­itive cases among stu­dents uncon­firmed by testing, but that the college does not know of any. He said the college expects cases and is well-pre­pared to deal with them.

“There have been a few potential cases,” Péwé said. “But anytime there’s a potential case— let’s say a student reports they’re asymp­to­matic — we get them checked out and tested. Usually they’re in quar­antine until we get the results back or the symptoms go away.”

Although the school will con­tinue to exercise dili­gence in fol­lowing COVID-19 pro­ce­dures, Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn said that the changes are a step in the right direction.

“We should take the nec­essary pre­cau­tions, but we should also live as nor­mally as pos­sible. There is good evi­dence that young, healthy people get little advantage wearing a mask out of doors,” Arnn said in an email. “We did it for two weeks, I confess, partly to make the point that we all need to be careful, and partly for whatever pre­ven­tative benefit it may have in our tran­sition back to campus.”

The college’s new guide­lines are focused on stu­dents’ ability to self-govern, Péwé said. Hillsdale’s policies have lined up with its teachings — stu­dents learn about self-gov­er­nance, and now it’s on them to practice it.

“We’re making sure that we keep the people who are most vul­nerable as safe as pos­sible,” Péwé said. “But stu­dents govern them­selves in this case. And they got off to a really good start. The stu­dents did a great job.”

McIntyre Res­i­dence Head Res­ident Assistant Lily Van Wingerden has been con­ducting health checks on freshmen women for the last two weeks. According to Van Wingerden, the stu­dents have responded well to the task of self-gov­er­nance and she has no doubt in their ability to con­tinue doing so.

“I think health checks were important in the first two weeks for mon­i­toring everyone as they came back, but I think Hillsdale stu­dents are respon­sible,” Van Wingerden said. “I have faith that our girls are going to be respon­sible and stay home when they’re sick.”

The Ambler Health and Wellness Center has issued guide­lines on what steps stu­dents should take should they fall ill.  Should stu­dents show symptoms, they 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.

When sophomore Cece Moran developed symptoms — a sore throat and runny nose — she alerted the health center. Nurses told Moran to pack an overnight bag to quar­antine in the town­houses, where she was required to stay while she awaited test results.

“My symptoms started on Thursday,” Moran said. “I woke up Friday and my mom said I should get tested just in case. I called the health center and I didn’t have a fever, but they scheduled me for a COVID test at the hos­pital.”

After being trans­ported to the Hillsdale Hos­pital in a school-owned vehicle, Moran took a swab test and went to the town­houses to quar­antine. She was released three days later when her test came back neg­ative.

“The health center called me and said ‘good news, you tested neg­ative,’” Moran said. “Security came and got me and I was back home by din­nertime.”

The college also said Monday that the Roche Sports Complex would be open to stu­dents starting  Sept. 9. This update comes a few days after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement allowing pools and gyms to reopen in a limited capacity. Patrons will be required to wear masks while exer­cising, the gym will be open for reduced hours, and capacity will be limited in each exercise area until further notice.

The college will con­tinue to offer virtual learning oppor­tu­nities, ensuring that stu­dents in quar­antine don’t miss class. Pro­fessors have the option of requiring masks in class, but according to Arnn, most have been receptive to the changes.

“I am advised that most of the faculty members are com­fortable with the mea­sures we have taken, including the recent slight relax­ation,” Arnn wrote. “It is important to protect anyone who is vul­nerable to the virus, even anyone nervous about it.”