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Chowan University students enter isolation period

By Holly Taylor / Staff Writer

holly.taylor@roanoke-chowannewsherald.com

MURFREESBORO, N.C.

Students at Chowan University will be required to go through an isolation period through Nov. 15 as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

The announcement, made through the university’s Facebook page on Nov. 3, noted the decision was made out of an abundance of caution after consulting with the senior team and the university’s medical personnel.

“While our active positive cases on campus remain low, the number of students in isolation has risen,” the post stated.

The university’s website lists four active cases among students and none for employees as of Nov. 2.

School has been back in session at Chowan for the past 11 weeks with students receiving in-person instruction, online learning, or a hybrid mix of both. During the isolation period, however, classes will continue in an online format only.

According to the isolation instructions, students should remain in their residence hall except to get fresh air, a meal from on-campus dining facilities, or to exercise individually. Take-out service will be provided by campus dining facilities during their normal operating hours.

The Jenkins Center and the Hawks Nest will be closed during the isolation period. Murfs will remain open, as will Whitaker Library and computer labs.

“The University is not closing the campus; however, this is a necessary step to protect our campus, our students, our faculty, our staff, and this place,” the Facebook post also stated.

Over 1,000 students are enrolled at the university this year, though not all of them reside on campus.

Chowan University President Dr. Kirk Peterson also shared a video message on Wednesday to explain the situation.

“We have kept our active COVID-19 numbers low, and we have done that out of an abundance of caution a number of different times,” he said. “But because we need to keep everyone safe, we went to self-isolation until Nov. 15, at which time I believe we will be in great shape to return to in-class education as well as our hybridized and online approach as well.”

“We did this because we care and love our students, faculty, and staff,” he continued. “So thank you for understanding.”

Dr. Peterson noted that his own son is a student on campus as well, so he understands the perspective of the parents in this situation.

“I believe this is the best thing we can do for them. What I would do for [my son], I would do for all,” he concluded.

At the beginning of the semester, the university implemented a number of protocols in order to protect the health and safety of students and employees. Everyone on campus is expected monitor their health daily (which is done through the university’s #CampusClear application), practice social distancing, wear cloth coverings when appropriate, practice good hygiene, and report symptoms or possible exposure.

Students who feel ill or experience COVID-19 symptoms must avoid contact with others and contact the university’s Wellness Center. Students who test positive are encouraged to travel home by personal vehicle if possible. If they cannot leave campus, they will be relocated to the residence hall which has been solely designated for quarantine.

Protocols for university employees are similar. Employees have the option to work remotely when possible. Anyone who thinks they have been exposed or has tested positive should not come to campus until cleared to do so.

The News Herald reached out to the university for additional information about the campus-wide isolation period.

Kim Bailey, Director of University Relations and Communication, reported the situation will be evaluated at the end of the period, and classes are expected to resume as they had earlier in the semester. Due to the pandemic, the academic calendar for the fall semester has been modified so that residence halls will close for the semester on Nov. 25 as students leave for Thanksgiving. The remainder of classes and final exams are scheduled to be conducted remotely.

Visitors are not allowed on campus without proper clearance.

“We must continue to take steps to protect the health and safety of our campus and the campus community,” Bailey said. “And we are keeping in mind that students are returning home in 21 days to their families, so not only our campus and campus community, but our extended Chowan family as well.”