Photo courtesy of Photo Shelter
From April 12-19, Luther College’s COVID-19 alert level increased from “Level 1 Green: Limited Exposure and Spread” to “Level 2 Teal: Increased Exposure and Spread.” As of April 19, the level has decreased again. This was the first alert level increase Luther College has seen since late February.
Vice President for Mission and Communication Brad Chamberlain, who is also a member of the COVID-19 response team, explained why the increase in the COVID-19 alert level occurred.
“The increase of the COVID-19 alert level to teal on April 12 was due to the activation of the ‘Occupancy of Campus Isolation/Quarantine Spaces’ COVID-19 indicator,” Chamberlain said. “The threshold for activation for this indicator is 50% occupancy, and the occupancy on April 12 was 57%. The increased occupancy was due to a sizable number of students who were placed in quarantine after being identified through contact tracing as close contacts of a small number of students who were diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Chamberlain was asked the potential ways these students may have become infected, but the population of students who tested positive was so small he chose not to comment, so as not to reveal any personal student information.
There was speculation among the student body if sports, music ensembles, or even Easter break (which took place the week prior to the increase) could have been the reason for the change in COVID-19 alert level. Though Chamberlain confirmed that Easter break was not connected to the rise in alert level, Treyten Chiglo (‘21), an RA in Dieseth, offered his opinion on the alert-level increase.
“There really wasn’t anything in particular that was the culprit for the increase in quarantined students. Easter break and sports are not the problem in my eyes,” Chiglo said. “Easter break afforded many of us the opportunity to finally go home and be with family, and I didn’t hear of anybody who had family sick at home.”
It is expected that as greater numbers of the Luther community become fully vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases on campus will continue to decrease, along with the number of students in isolation. Those who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine if they are in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Luther College encourages all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated. Josie LaVoi (‘22), an RA in Brandt, expressed concerns that students will become less vigilant in the final weeks of school.
“It’s important to not get too lax about following guidelines before the end of the year,” LaVoi said. “The fact is a lot of people still aren’t vaccinated. I know lots of other people have been getting their vaccines scheduled here or have already been fully immunized, but it’s still a fact that we still live in these communal settings, where we don’t know who is vaccinated or not unless it’s someone in your close circle.”
The COVID-19 Response Team also encourages students to stay vigilant as the year comes to a close. Even though the alert level has decreased again, students should continue to wear face masks, practice physical distancing, use the CampusClear daily health monitoring tool, and participate in asymptomatic testing through the EAST program.