LIBERAL – Seward County Community College continues to take precautions in making sure safety is its number one priority as it heads into the spring semester and things are off to a good start.
COVID testing for dorm residents – mostly student-athletes – was done on Monday at the Greenhouse by the Seward County Health Department. Athletes from the baseball, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball teams arrived early and came in this past weekend.
The results came back on Wednesday and of the 68 students tested, only one was positive.
SCCC President Brad Bennett was pleased with the results.
“It’s a great start to the semester,” Bennett said. “I think it shows that our students are focused on safety protocols and trying to do everything they can to stay safe. We know things can change, but it’s good news.”
According to Bennett, the students who arrived early were tested on Monday while the rest of the dorm residents will arrive this coming weekend and be tested on this upcoming Monday when classes begin via remote learning for the first week.
“The students came in, were quarantined, tested and quarantined again (and then either released or remain quarantined depending on their results),” Bennett said. “Then the next group will start coming in (Saturday and Sunday) and they’ll test on Monday (and follow the same procedures as the first group).”
Bennett is hopefully that the next group will yield the same results.
“We’re anticipating similar numbers next week, but we’ll have to wait and see. Those could definitely be different though,” he said, adding that it the numbers are similar, SCCC will move forward with in-person classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
After the initial two-week period, Bennett said that the college plans to follow it up with randomized testing.
“We’re still ironing out the details, but what we’ll do is select a couple of athletes from each team as well as students from the general population and test each week. It’ll be a random process,” Bennett said. “We’ll contact the students and they’ll go to the testing site or we can take them.”
Things have gone smoothly from a testing and quarantining perspective.
“It went well,” said Dan Artamenko, SCCC athletic director and a member of the COVID response team, who oversaw Monday’s testing. “(The Seward County Health Department) was impressed with how many and how fast we were able to test. Process-wise we got the kids in and out and it was done safely. Now they’re back in quarantine, waiting for results.”
“(The students) know we’re doing this for them,” said Jennifer Malin, SCCC housing director. “We want everyone to stay safe and healthy. They’re not too hip on being quarantined, but they understand.”
According to Malin, after students receive their results, if they show a negative result, they will be immediately released from quarantine. If they show a positive result or refuse to release their result (it will be counted as a positive), they will be quarantined in another part of housing complex for the required time period.
Artamenko added that the testing was mandated for all students in housing and not exclusively athletes. The softball and men’s and women’s tennis teams will arrive this coming weekend.
While quarantined to their rooms, students are still being provided meals by Great Western Dining, with delivery by coaches and school officials.
The spring semester begins this coming Monday with all classes being held remotely for the first week. If there is no dramatic spike in COVID numbers, in-person learning will resume the following week. Students need to check their campus e-mail for updates.