Creighton administrators have taken the campus, city and county coronavirus positivity rates into account when considering a move from phase one to phase two of campus reopening, they said at the CSU COVID-19 Town Hall on Tuesday.
“We are trying to make sure that we ease into our different phases without making too many changes at one time,” said Tricia Sharrar, vice provost for Academic Administration and Operations.
On Sept. 10, as the university neared the first 30 day checkpoint, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, announced that CU would not yet be moving to phase two of reopening.
“As a community, we just don’t feel like coming out of a break, which was our Labor Day weekend, that we’re ready to make a commitment,” Sharrar said.
The virtual town hall hosted by Creighton Students Union President Colby Aus- tin allowed students to ask questions about community standards, campus restrictions, events and more.
One student used the Q&A feature on the Zoom webinar to ask about the possibility of allowing students to check in one guest to their residence hall to help with contact tracing and to reduce the number of people sneaking in to see their friends who live in other halls.
Vice Provost for Student Life Tanya Winegard said she knows that social interaction is important for students and she wants to make that a reality.
“That idea of being able to visit your friends in different halls in something that we are actively seeking to engage in,” Winegard said.
She emphasized that the response team would be introducing any changes in two-week increments or more to allow for changes in cases to be noticed.
She also said the response team is looking at ways to adjust to-go dining.
“Dr. Hoarty and her team have found through contact tracing that some of our highest risk chances for COVID to spread are when you are all eating with each other [and the face coverings come off],” Winegard said.
She also noted that the option to eat with friends while spread out on the mall won’t be available as the weather changes. “The plan that we’re working on is to try and get ways to get you indoors in a more common dining situation, but also being mindful of the importance of that social distancing,” Winegard said.
She said students should stay tuned for updates on both of those plans.
For tests done at the on-campus testing location through a partnership with TestNebraska, Dr. Carrie Hoarty, the director for Student Health Education and Compliance, said that results are being returned to students, faculty and staff in about a day-and-a-half.
“Results are more meaningful when you get them quickly,” Hoarty said.
She said that the coronavirus dashboard reports both the results from the on-campus testing site and any self-reported results individuals share from other testing locations.
One person asked if individuals who develop cold symptoms will have to isolate.
Hoarty said that both Campus Clear and the health education and compliance office try to determine when a symptom is “normal,” when it is from the flu, a cold or strep, and when it may be a symptom of the coronavirus.
She said the office tells people with distinctive symptoms to see a health provider and get a diagnosis.
“We really have to weed out what the symptoms are and if an alternative diagnosis has been obtained,” Hoarty said.
If the individual has symptoms that match COVID-19 symptoms, they will be asked to isolate – sometimes even after they receive a negative test, Hoarty said.
Vice Provost for Global Engagement Rene Padilla said that he has received about 150 applications for events from campus organizations. He said the reviewers have denied fewer than 10 events, most of which were because of health concerns such as hosting large groups in indoor spaces and not meeting face covering requirements.
Winegard addressed a question about Fraternity and Sorority Life events as the groups begin to plan for recruitment in January. She said she is aware of how important FSL is to many students, and she said she would be willing to work with leaders on those events.
She pointed out that other schools successfully recruited new members using virtual recruitment this fall.
Multiple panelists emphasized that guidance and cases change daily, which makes planning for the spring semester difficult.
Sharrar said that CU would likely plan to continue social distancing in classrooms, face covering requirements and the emphasis on hand hygiene in the spring.
“Some of these practical things that our medical director is asking us to consider are things that are fairly easy for us to embrace in order to have our students on our campus,” Sharrar said.