KENT, Ohio — More than 300 Kent State University students were in quarantine as of Thursday night.
Of the 305 students in quarantine, 57 of them were set to finish their quarantine at midnight, while 138 of the 305 were newly under quarantine as of Thursday.
The university said there are currently 19 Kent State students isolating with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, clarifying that students who are quarantining are those who have been in close contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases.
Students told News 5 they were concerned about the possibility of getting the virus themselves.
“That I actually get COVID, and I'm not able to end the semester because I'm gonna be in the hospital or something,” architecture graduate student Raquel Britto said of her biggest fear. “I'm so far doing great.”
Joseph Norman, a freshman studying architecture said, “It’s a worrying time. It’s a lot different, so it’s definitely a crazy experience.”
Students said they understood the need for quarantining, although it was stressful and not enjoyable, and that they’re trying to take precautions to keep the virus from spreading. But for some, it’s still a scary experience.
Jayna Leber, a sophomore nursing major, said, “I don't want to get it and then spread it to my family members because I'll go home and I'll see my grandparents or my parents and I worry about spreading it to them.”
C. Simpson, a freshman studying American Sign Language and English interpreting, said, “I don't want to go home and then come back and be like, ‘We can't come back because it was too crazy.’”
According to Manfred van Dulmen, chair of the pandemic leadership committee at Kent State, there has been “a sort of continuous pattern over the past few weeks of an increase in positive cases.”
Van Dulmen said he believes expanded testing is playing a role in the increase in cases.
“So we sort of expected it,” van Dulmen said. “But one of the things we have seen, though, is in a particular change in the residence halls where we've seen some increased numbers of positive tests. And so that's concerning.”
He said that’s the main reason the city of Kent’s health commissioner has issued and continues to issue quarantine orders for floors of several residence halls.
The university noted that the number of students in quarantine or isolation is out of more than 3,700 students living in residence halls, and a total of more than 20,000 students at the Kent campus, in addition to several thousand employees.
Some students feel the university has handled this well. Norman, the freshman architecture student, said he was worried at first but now thinks “Kent State’s been really proactive in making sure that the kids are staying safe and staying on top of things.”
Leber wasn’t so sure, saying she felt like the university was “generally late to their responses like they keep changing things around.” She also said she was “really disappointed in the student body cause we can do better than that.”
While cases since the weekend have not yet been reported, the university reported 54 people, including students, tested positive last week, in numbers reported this Tuesday. In total, 219 cases have been reported since July.
Kent State students who returned to campus had to sign a pledge saying they would wear masks, avoid large gatherings, and limit in-person contact whenever possible.
Van Dulmen said the university has begun testing through CVS on campus, with testing available for staff, faculty, and students. Kent State has also held events with the National Guard and plans to have another event this coming Sunday with the city of Kent.
He noted the university feels “very comfortable” about the quarantine and isolation spaces it has, as well as availability of staff and dining services to handle the situation with students involved.
In addition to students in quarantine or isolation receiving three meals a day delivered to their door, dining services on campus have also been shifted to takeout meals. However, Kent State has added heated tents outside in order to give students a place to eat.
The city of Kent recently passed an ordinance that allows the health commissioner to penalize people attending gatherings, in hopes of deterring such gatherings.
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