We asked your questions about the recent COVID spike


Graph by Mohammad Igbaria.

Mohammad Igbaria

Heather Cox, director of emergency management and risk mitigation, answered questions regarding the recent COVID spike on campus via an email to the S&B.

With the high number of students in isolation or quarantine right now, have the dedicated isolation dorms/buildings been overwhelmed? Additionally, what is their maximum capacity? How is SHAW deciding which students should move to an isolation building and which ones should stay in their rooms?

  • We have had to utilize all of our on-campus space at several points during the last two weeks but had contingency plans in place to utilize off-campus housing (such as hotel space) to temporarily relocate the roommates of positives if needed. We were also able to outfit more rooms on campus as isolation space, gaining us 10 more beds. Between students being able to isolate in their own rooms and designated isolation space on campus we did not have to implement our off-campus options.

Why has the College chosen to ask students in isolation to pick up their own meals (or ask these students to get a friend to get their meals for them)? Is the college concerned that having COVID-positive students entering the JRC, even just briefly, poses some risk for others?

  • The process for picking up meals was set up where students would have very minimal interaction with others and spend little time in the JRC. We know that high-quality masks are very effective at limiting the spread of respiratory illnesses and would allow those in isolation to pick up their meals and get a little stretch break in the process. Any student that does not feel well enough to pick up their food can have their meal delivered.

Why were students not mandatorily tested upon returning from spring break?

  • Conditions at that time did not support mandatory mass testing. Instead the emphasis was on providing various testing options for those that may have had exposures or were feeling symptomatic. Our students have been great all year about seeking out testing through SHAW when they were not feeling well or using Test Iowa PCR tests if they had known exposures. That was the model we continued to utilize post-break.

Have any students been hospitalized due to COVID or COVID-related complications?

  • No. Students in isolation continue to report mild symptoms that have been managed with comfort meds under the ongoing monitoring and care from SHAW.

Does the College have a timetable for returning to not having a mask requirement indoors? What benchmarks are the college looking out for regarding reducing (or increasing) the active COVID requirements and restrictions?

  • We do not have a timetable as we must follow the data, but we are monitoring cases closely and as the numbers improve we will be continually assessing what policies can be modified or lifted. Thanks to the rapid and seamless transition our campus community made back to level modified blue, our cases are already decreasing. This is a testament to our campus community and the efficacy of the response tools we can implement based on campus, local, or regional conditions.