First-year students at Colorado College began moving onto campus on Thursday. Two days later, the private liberal arts school in Colorado Springs reported that one of them had tested positive for coronavirus.
Now, an entire dorm building and 155 students who live in it are in quarantine for the next two weeks because CC says “enhanced social distancing protocols” were not followed.
The situation underscores the difficulty of higher education during the pandemic as students at University of Colorado, the largest university in the state, begin to move into dorms on the Boulder campus. About 1,000 CU students will move into their dorms daily through Sunday, their move-in times carefully scheduled to limit the spread of coronavirus. Each student also must get a COVID-19 test on campus or prior to their arrival.
Most Colorado colleges and universities are embracing a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning as the new academic year begins. Schools in other parts of the country — like Harvard University — have opted for all-online classes as a precaution.
Colorado College is now warning its campus community that the steps it has taken to allow students to return will only work if guidelines are followed. Like CU, Colorado College is testing all students for coronavirus as they arrive on campus.
“Our efforts will work only if everyone on campus follows these protocols; it’s up to each of us,” Rochelle Dickey, Colorado College’s acting dean of students and acting vice president for student life, wrote in a letter to the college community.
First-year students at Colorado College are the first to move into on-campus housing and were instructed to adhere to enhanced social distancing protocols — staying away from others, isolating in their rooms, wearing a mask — until they received a negative test result.
CC didn’t say which protocols weren’t followed, just that the college learned some weren’t being adhered to. That prompted the building-wide quarantine.
“We have been following our established protocols. We have been testing all students on campus, conducting ongoing random testing, and observing risk-mitigation procedures. We are also following the advice of our partner, El Paso County Public Health,” Dickey wrote in her letter. “None of these collective efforts can succeed if we don’t follow public-health guidelines.
For the next 14 days, Loomis Hall residents are asked to leave their rooms only to use the restroom and to wear a mask when they do. All access in and out of the dormitory is closed and food is being delivered to students.
The dorm will be deep cleaned and contact tracing teams will check in with students, the college said. Students assigned to Loomis Hall who have not yet arrived on campus will be reassigned to a different dorm, according to the college
Leslie Weddel, a spokeswoman for Colorado College, said that not a lot will change regarding the first week of school. Orientation, which already was planned to occur online, began Monday.
“New-student orientation already was being delivered via distance learning in order to provide an equitable experience for everyone,” she said in a written statement. “The new development means the first week of these students’ classes will be delivered via distance learning as well; and for some, that may not be a change from what was already planned.”
Classes at Colorado College are scheduled to begin on Aug. 24.
As for the student who tested positive for coronavirus, CC says the person is “now isolated and receiving appropriate care and support.”