By Anna Harman
Since March 2020 with COVID-19, Cedarville students were ready to get back to normal on campus this semester.
For the first week on campus, all students attended chapel and classes without COVID-19 protocols set in place. Then on August 24th, 2021, Cedarville announced that masks were once again strongly encouraged in all indoor public spaces. Chapel would not meet, students who tested positive for COVID-19 would have to isolate themselves at home and outdoor activities were encouraged whenever possible.
These changes were disappointing to many students because they got used to normal chapel meetings and classes without masks. Now, after barely a week of normalcy, they were going back to the COVID-19 protocol temporarily.
The amount of COVID-19 cases spiked in a short period. According to University Medical Services, UMS, around 575 students tested positive for COVID-19 overall. The spike hit its climax on August 30th, with the number of cases on campus reaching 426 at one time.
The director of UMS, Rhonda Evans, played a crucial role in how UMS decided to administer COVID-19 tests quickly and efficiently to students.
“God woke me up at 2 a.m. with a plan,” said Evans. “I got up and hurriedly wrote down details that were streaming into my head and even drew out a plan of the rooms and where everyone would be stationed. The next morning I presented the plan to the UMS team that we were going to reschedule all appointments that could be postponed, and we were going to operate as a mass testing clinic.”
Between 20 to 30 tests were administered per hour once this plan was in motion.
“If the university had not been so well set up from the prior year with automated tracking sheets and messaging, there’s no way we would have been able to manage the outbreak as smoothly and as quickly,” added Evans.
Due to the overwhelming amount of positive cases, quarantine housing became an issue. Faith Hall was filling quickly, and the university had to open up an additional isolation space for students who tested positive. If at all possible, students were encouraged to go home if they had been exposed to the virus so beds were available on campus for people who could not go home.
“I was excited to have a ‘normal’ college experience and loved that many restrictions were lifted. I was looking forward to meeting new people, and it was very nice to not have to sit every other seat from people in class,” said sophomore Jy Klein. “When the cases started to rise, I was extremely nervous and fearful that we would get sent home quickly. But by the grace of God, they were able to come up with more housing, and the cases eventually started to dwindle.”
As of October 1, cases have dropped down to three people isolating off campus, a significant drop since that last week of August when cases were at their peak on campus.
It was important that the university acted quickly and made the most sensible decision for the health and safety of both students and faculty, no matter how disappointing it was to be restricted by COVID-19 protocols once again.
UMS highly recommends students get vaccinated. Even with breakthrough cases, vaccinated people are not being hospitalized nearly as often as non-vaccinated people. UMS also encourages keeping close contact groups as small as possible.
Students, remember to thank UMS, the food services, the residence life staff, faculty and everyone who made it possible for the overwhelming amount of students to be tested quickly during the outbreak, who found a way to provide more space to house students in isolation, who gave so much of their time, brainpower, wisdom and compassion for the sake of the people at Cedarville University.
Anna Harman is a sophomore Biblical Studies major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, getting coffee and going to concerts.