Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response
April 3, 2020
Message from the Kent County Office of Emergency Services
As the COVID-19 situation progresses, plans are currently being made to respond to the potential surge of patients within Kent County and across the Mid-Shore. Experts from our local health departments, hospitals, emergency managers, and state agencies have been working together to identify locations that could potentially serve as sites to help handle a surge in patient care needs. There are many elements that need to be factored into possible locations. At present, these plans are still taking shape and no sites have been identified definitively. We will be sure to make the community aware of these plans once they are in place. For questions, please call Kent County Office of Emergency Services at 443.282.6480.
March 27, 2020
The last 24 hours have brought the unfortunate news that Kent County now has a case of community transmission of COVID-19. Even though Washington College has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, we must all now operate on the assumption that with everyone we encounter, and everywhere we go, we put ourselves at risk of contracting this highly contagious respiratory disease. You need to consider that people are carrying the virus, even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.
It is only a matter of time before someone you know contracts COVID-19. Our intent is not to be alarmist, but to be pragmatic in helping our community members understand how easily this disease is spread, and to give you the information you need to protect yourselves.
According to expert health officials, infected individuals with mild or no reported symptoms are still contagious and capable of spreading the virus. Plus, the virus has a long incubation period, with many people not showing symptoms for an average of five days after infection. Together, these two factors result in a lot of people being infected and spreading the virus without knowing it.
This is exactly why Washington College has encouraged so many students to go home, why we have restricted access to campus, why we have adopted online learning and remote working environments, and why we remind you at every opportunity to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: practice social distancing, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, clean and disinfect household surfaces every day, and practice good handwashing hygiene. If you can, stay home.
In the first wave of the outbreak, the Coronavirus Response Team followed established emergency operations protocols for crisis communications and put into place mechanisms that will allow us to quickly bring you news and updates. As we enter this new phase of community transmission, we can expect that many members of the Washington College community will undergo testing for COVID-19. In accordance with the guidelines established by our local, state, and federal health officials, we will report only positive cases of COVID-19 among our Washington College community as they are confirmed. And we will continue to bring you updates about how we are adapting to this new normal through email communications and ongoing maintenance of the coronavirus microsite.
Please know that we are doing everything in our power to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe. But much of that responsibility rests with you. It’s a big mistake to think that if you don’t interact with sick people, you’ll be fine. That’s simply not the case with this virus.
Health officials expect the number of cases to spike over the next two weeks. As more cases of COVID-19 become known, it is imperative for us to remember that this virus does not discriminate. COVID-19 affects people from all walks of life. Be kind to those who are affected, and don’t make assumptions that they have done anything wrong.
It’s also important to remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed during prolonged stressful times such as these, but that you don’t have to carry all of that burden. There is support available to help you and your loved ones. SAMSHA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support to anyone experiencing emotional distress. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
We know this is scary stuff. But knowledge is power. Please use this information to stay safe and protect your family and friends.
March 26, 2020
Campus Access Restricted
To protect the safety of the students and essential personnel remaining on campus, Washington College is restricting vehicular traffic to a single entry point—the northern entrance at Greenwood Avenue. All other entrances have been closed. Please slow down as you approach the campus gatehouse in front of the Casey Academic Center, where you will be asked to show your College ID and/or the temporary parking pass that you may have received from Public Safety. Please display your temporary pass on the passenger side of the vehicle’s dashboard. This check point is staffed 24/7. All vehicles must stop at the gatehouse before entering campus.
If you don’t have pre-approval to be on campus, you will be delayed and possibly denied entry to the campus.
March 25, 2020 - 5:30 p.m.
Washington College Student Who Attended Off-Campus Gathering Tests Positive for COVID-19
Kent County Health Department Launches Public Health Investigation into Community Case of COVID-19 to Identify Those Who May Have Been Exposed to the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
CHESTERTOWN—Washington College’s Emergency Operations Group has been made aware that a Washington College student who lives in off-campus housing has tested positive for COVID-19. The student returned to their off-campus private residence in Chestertown the weekend of March 13-15 and attended an off-campus outdoor gathering at another private student residence in Chestertown on the afternoon of March 13.
The student is under a doctor’s care in their home state, where they were tested on March 18 and received positive test results on March 22. According to CDC guidelines, the student is in self-isolation for 14 days. The student’s off-campus roommates have all returned to their homes beyond Chestertown.
Washington College is assisting the Kent County Health Department by helping to identify others who may have come into contact with this student from March 13-15. Health Department officials have asked that any individual who attended an off-campus gathering hosted by Washington College students the afternoon of March 13 contact them and self-quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day quarantine period, ending this Sunday, March 29. Questions and concerns should be directed to the Kent County Health Department at 410-778-7040, and not to Washington College Health Services.
If you believe you were exposed, are exhibiting symptoms including fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and are in Kent County, please contact the Kent County Health Department. If you have returned to your home county or state and are exhibiting symptoms, please contact your primary care provider.
March 25, 2020 - 10 a.m.
Washington College Student Tests Negative for COVID-19
This morning, the Washington College campus community received some much-needed good news. The student who was hospitalized last week under suspicion of COVID-19 has tested negative for the highly contagious respiratory disease.
Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the student’s traveling companions and suitemates have been in voluntary quarantine since Friday, March 13, while test results were pending.
“While the threat of COVID-19 to our community is real, this news comes as a relief to everyone who feared possible exposure on our College campus,” notes College President Kurt Landgraf. “I am so proud of this young man and his friends who did the right thing by taking responsibility for the community’s health.”
Washington College will continue to follow the measures put into place over the past two weeks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Students and faculty are engaged in remote learning, public events have been cancelled or postponed, many staff are working from home, and access to campus is restricted to those students, faculty, and staff who have permission to be on campus.
March 23, 2020
As federal, state, and local governments put into place increasingly stringent measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, Washington College is doing what we can to safeguard the health and welfare of our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors. Only a handful of students remain on campus, most faculty and staff are working remotely, and access to campus buildings has been restricted to those who have permission to be here. To protect those remaining students and those essential employees who must be on site to provide campus services to our students, Washington College is restricting vehicular access to campus. Barriers are being installed at three of the four campus entrances, directing all traffic to use the northern entrance at Greenwood Avenue. Those without authorization to be on campus will be turned away.
At last count, approximately 68 students remained on campus; many of those students have plans to leave within the next couple of days. A small number of students who cannot return home will remain on campus.
HEALTH AND COUNSELING SERVICES
The Counseling Center’s physical offices are closed, but the staff are still working via telephone and email to support our students. To schedule a tele-counseling appointment, call 410-778-7261 or email Miranda Altman.
The Health Services hours are posted below:
3/24 9 a.m.-noon
3/26 9 a.m.-noon
3/24 1-3 p.m.
3/25 9 a.m.-noon
3/26 1-3 p.m.
ADDRESSING STUDENT NEEDS
Some students now learning remotely face additional challenges, ranging from food insecurity to poor internet connectivity. The Student Engagement Office is conducting a survey to assess students’ critical needs for food, technology, or other assistance, and College Advancement has launched a COVID-19 Response Fund to help students get what they need to be successful through the end of the term. Please give if you are able.
Considering Governor Hogan’s announcement this morning to close non-essential businesses, the Emergency Operations Group noted the importance of minimizing the number of individuals on campus. To that end, the hotline will be discontinued and a voicemail recording will direct callers to use the shared email box email@example.com, which will be monitored by Jennifer Pass, Elaine Grant, and Claire Hansen going forward.
STUDENT’S TEST RESULTS
We are now at Day Nine since our student’s COVID-19 test was received at Quest Lab, where test results are still pending. Part of the delay is attributed to a backlog of cases at the first lab, ARUP Lab, which then directed the test to Quest Lab. The student’s close friend and traveling companions remain in isolation and symptom-free. Their end date for isolation is March 27. As for the student who was hospitalized, he is now in good health and good spirits, passing the time by Skyping with family and friends, and binging on Netflix. Oh, and today, like hundreds of other Washington College students, he logged into Canvas to resume his coursework.