Castleton University’s low number of positive COVID-19 cases this semester can be attributed to the school’s commitment to keeping all students safe, school officials say.
“Pre-arrival quarantine mandates, testing protocol for day one and day seven, social distancing expectation, mask mandate, online class delivery, dining hall procedures to limit spread, reduced density in the halls, [and] a well-thought out response to a positive case,” are all precautions CU is taking, according to Dean of Students Dennis Proulx.
Ryan Boeke, a Castleton student from Colorado, recounts his time spent quarantined inside Ellis Hall.
“The 10 days were the longest days ever. It was so boring and there was absolutely nothing to do,” Boeke said.
Boeke said he spent most of his time catching up on Grey’s Anatomy and watching Reel Rock on Red Bull TV while he wasn’t allowed to leave the dorm.
Castleton University student Mason Wildermuth is happy with how well the school has handled the virus.
“They made us all do testing so that if anyone had it, they could quarantine that person so that the rest of the school didn’t get sick and so they wouldn’t have to send everyone else home. They took care of this matter safely and quickly, as a result no one else got sick and that made me feel safe,” Wildermuth said.
Fellow student Kelsey DiFiore is “surprised how the amount of Covid cases is so low.”
“With everyone coming from all different areas, it’s so unpredictable and a risk for our campus community but I think our school and students are handling everything very well,” DiFiore said.
Castleton currently has had only two positive COVID-19 cases, significantly less than other colleges nationwide. SUNY Oneonta, who did not test their students for Coronavirus before their return to campus this fall, currently has 707 positive cases since the start of the semester.
The school also has sent students home for the fall.
“This is not the course any of us wanted the semester to take… now we will turn our attention to seeing that students get home safely,” said SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris on the SUNY Oneonta website.
When asked if the same situation could happen to Castleton University, Proulx said “anything is possible.”
“We must continue our best practices or such an event like Oneonta would happen here,” he said.
He added that “we must continue our fight against the spread of COVID-19 here.”
All in all, the utilization of masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and limiting the number of large gatherings has been significantly beneficial to the school’s low number of positive cases. Proulx said another reason the numbers are low is because most students are arriving from Vermont, which already has a lower positivity rate than other states in the country.
“But I will caution, an outbreak could happen on our campus – we must all continue to remain vigilant in adhering to the best practice for self-protection and the protection of others,” Proulx said.