The Town­houses are the official on-campus quar­antine zones. Courtesy | Kalli Dal­rymple

Two dozen Hillsdale stu­dents have con­tracted COVID-19 since the start of the school year, with five active cases as of Wednesday morning and 19 resolved, according to college admin­is­trators. Another 18 stu­dents remain in contact iso­lation after close contact with a pos­itive case, according to a COVID-19 update released in Wednesday’s faculty and staff newsletter. Six of the stu­dents in contact iso­lation await  coro­n­avirus test results, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Ser­vices is mon­i­toring them closely.

In Hillsdale County, 374 people have con­tracted COVID-19 and 26 have died during the pan­demic, according to Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Ser­vices. Across the state, more than 139,000 have been infected and nearly 7,000 have died. On Wednesday, Michigan reported 1,359 new con­firmed cases, up from 1,016 a week ago and the highest daily total since April. 

Nearly 5,000 of Michigan’s COVID-19 cases have involved college stu­dents, according to state data last week. Michigan State Uni­versity has seen the most cases with 1,531, fol­lowed by Grand Valley State Uni­versity with 903, Western Michigan Uni­versity with 655, and the Uni­versity of Michigan with 636.

Health Care Liason Stephanie Gravel said the school is ready for more pos­sible cases that could nat­u­rally occur from stu­dents’ travel. She said the school has made a few changes to COVID-19 pro­tocol to adjust for this concern. 

“The biggest change we’ve made is uti­lizing Camp Michindoh for contact iso­lation stu­dents,” Gravel said. “Also, the library has pulled together some addi­tional infor­mation to help stu­dents aca­d­e­m­i­cally while in iso­lation.”

Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz said Camp Michindoh has been a reliable option for quar­an­tined stu­dents.

“We believe it is a good envi­ronment if one has to be in iso­lation and have worked with Michindoh to provide high-speed internet for housing and have meals well orga­nized,” Lutz said.

Faculty members still have the option to teach remotely.

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of English Dutton Kearney decided to move his classes online for a month at the end of Sep­tember when several of his stu­dents were quar­an­tined.

“In mid-Sep­tember, stu­dents from five dif­ferent team sports and two dif­ferent student orga­ni­za­tions went into quar­antine, 30% in one section, 40% in another,” Kearney said in an email. “I held classes outside under the tent for two weeks, but when the weather changed and the number of quar­an­tined stu­dents steadily increased, I decided on Sept. 29 to take those two sec­tions online but to hold office hours in person.”

Kearney said he never expected to host classes online, but that the sit­u­ation called for it.

“Edu­cation in general, and college in par­ticular, is meant to take place in person, within a dis­cussion. We all learn together, with one another and from one another,” Kearney said. “ I don’t think that online classes are an inevitability, and we should all do our part to make sure they remain that way.”

Overall, Kearney said stu­dents have been receptive to change and have handled the tran­sition to online courses well. 

“As you would expect, some stu­dents have been dis­ap­pointed, but all have been under­standing. I think it helps that they know I’m firm about returning to the classroom on October 27,” Kearney said. “Further, it def­i­nitely makes a dif­ference having office hours in person. When it comes to teaching stu­dents how to write a close analysis, I can provide general con­cepts in the classroom, but helping stu­dents develop their indi­vidual readings requires indi­vidual con­ver­sa­tions.”

Lutz said stu­dents like Little have done a good job han­dling the con­se­quences of COVID-19  pro­tocol and that he’s encouraged by the strength of the student body.

“We all want to do what we love, which is to live and learn together. I hope our stu­dents remember to not live in fear and that this will pass,” Lutz wrote in an email. “We knew this semester would be a little bumpy, but we appre­ciate the stu­dents’ patience as well as their dutiful efforts and sac­ri­fices in our effort to keep campus healthy.”