More than 150 students at Colorado College were quarantined in Loomis Hall after a student tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, officials said Monday, and positive cases were reported among Air Force Academy cadets just as colleges and universities around Colorado open for the fall term.
New students at Colorado College were tested for the virus as they arrived on campus Friday. The student at Loomis Hall received positive results Saturday. In the time between being tested and getting results, the student did not follow the school’s social distancing protocols that are supposed to be adhered to while awaiting results, Colorado College spokeswoman Leslie Weddell said.
Several people in Loomis Hall were exposed to the student and 155 will be quarantined in the dorm for 14 days to reduce risk of further spreading the virus, according to an email from Dean of Students Rochelle Dickey and Brian Young, vice president of the prevention work team.
“We have been testing all students on campus, conducting ongoing random testing, and observing risk-mitigation procedures,” the email read. “We are also following the advice of our partner, El Paso County Public Health. None of these collective efforts can succeed if we don’t follow public-health guidelines.”
Here is some of the reaction and effects of the quarantine:
– County public health spokeswoman Michelle Hewitt said the agency “will work closely with (Colorado College) to identify any additional symptomatic cases and make appropriate quarantine and isolation recommendations.”
– Students will only be allowed to leave their rooms to use the restroom; movement into and out of the dorm will be restricted. “The quarantine means the first week of these students’ classes will be delivered via distance learning as well; for some, that may not be a change from what was already planned,” Weddell said.
Colorado College’s plan for the start of the fall semester allows only first year students to attend classes in-person while others participate in distance learning. By Sept. 21, the school plans to have upperclassmen on campus, according to its website.
– Oliver Kendall, of Charleston, South Carolina, said he moved into the Loomis Hall Saturday and is now among those in quarantine. “Its kind of tough. It’s a little frustrating but understandable,” Kendall, 18, said. “It isn’t what we expected, but that’s what happened. I feel comfortable and okay with it. It’s comforting to know  people are going through the same thing.”
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Kendall said college officials are updating students on the situation as soon as the information becomes available.
“They’re doing the best they can,” Kendall said. “As of now, we have to stay in the dorm room. We can leave for the bathroom and laundry only.”
– Meals are to be delivered to students in Loomis Hall. The dorm is to be deep-cleaned to help limit transmission of the disease. Students assigned to Loomis Hall who have not arrived yet will be relocated to new dorms.
– School officials also sent a statement committing safety protocols to students, faculty and staff to sign. “Anyone who does not observe this commitment puts everyone’s experience and safety at risk,” officials said in the email. “We are asking CC parents and families to support our efforts by encouraging your students to adhere to our commitment and protocols.”
Kendall said he believes his fellow students are being careful.
“I think people are understanding and making the best of their time” in quarantine, he said. “People are competing in running a mile in their dorm and seeing who can run faster or are learning handstands to pass the time.”