Colleges across the country all had the same dilemma this year- how would they open safely in the age of COVD-19? To tackle the issue, North Central College created the “COVID-19 Institutional Response Team”, which would be responsible for creating a plan to get back to school. The team’s, along with other subcommittees’, strategy involved a multi-pronged approach to testing.
“We are looking at what’s called a ‘surveillance testing model’ in which we routinely test a percentage of the students, staff, and faculty on campus,” said Dr. Marci J. Swede, dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences at North Central College. “To kind of get a sense of how our prevention methods are working, and to contain any potential outbreaks.”
According to the college’s latest COVID-19 test results, there have been 3,017 tests administered since August. Of those, 39 came back positive, which is a 1.29% positivity rate.
North Central College Communal Approach
The reasoning for those numbers being low could be credited to a communal prevention approach. Signs posted across campus ask people to socially distance, and wash their hands. And everyone who’s on campus is asked to wear a mask.
Mikel Mays, a junior and a resident advisor at North Central College, said it was key to have a good relationship with his residents so they could understand and follow the health protocols.
“Building that relationship with the first years and having that empathy saying ‘I know that your senior year was horrible and you got these guidelines in place for your freshman year in college, but let’s just work together and get it done. So we can stay here and get what we need to do [done]’,” said Mays.
Mays said the current situation isn’t ideal, but it beats that of the spring when the college went completely remote.
NCC’s Plans Going Forward
After Thanksgiving break the college will switch most classes to online to help minimize the possible spread of COVID-19, and will return to school for the spring semester on January 25.
Winter sports are still up in the air as the college is awaiting guidance from the CCIW and the NCAA.
North Central College said they will follow guidance from the DuPage County Health Department, and change their protocols if necessary.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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