With just under 72 hours left in the in-person part of the fall semester, Kansas State reported more than 300 students were in quarantine during the week of Nov. 9 as COVID-19 cases surge worldwide.
Nathan Bothwell, speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies, expressed concern about his fellow students’ behavior in the pandemic.
“To someone who’s getting fatigued, I feel that and I understand that, but I also say that there are ways to still follow guidelines and be safe and healthy,” Bothwell said. “A pandemic is a natural disaster — it’s just a long one. It’s not like a tornado that’s done in five minutes, it’s one that goes on for a year. And so I think that we will be able to recover. It just seems bleak right now.”
For the second week in a row, the positivity rate is above 10 percent. In the past, Dr. Kyle Goerl, Lafene Health Center’s medical director, said the goal is to keep the positivity rate below five percent.
That being said, the university does not have any formalized thresholds at which point the campus would down. In fact, associate vice president for risk and compliance Elliot Young previously indicated K-State would not close its doors like it did in the spring semester unless state or local health officials directed the administration to do so.
In lieu of formalized gating criteria, K-State’s coronavirus response looks at a handful of metrics to determine the state of affairs on campus and in the community as it pertains to virus mitigation. Positivity rate is included, but local hospitalization rates, death rates, availability of intensive care beds and other factors also make up those trigger points.
To mitigate spread on campus following holiday-related travel among other factors, students will not return to K-State for in-person classes after Thanksgiving break, but instead attend dead week and finals week virtually. This plan was first announced over the summer and does not signify a shift in the COVID-19 response.
In the meantime, K-State encourages students to get tested before heading home for the break. Asymptomatic tests are available through Friday at Lafene Health Center.
“It’s absolutely possible to still do those things that you enjoy, as long as you take a couple of precautionary steps ahead of time,” Bothwell said.