Random testing detects new COVID-19 cases at SAC

Alex Dooley, Editor-in-Chief

As students settle into the new normal of college life amidst the pandemic, Saint Anselm College remains in the spotlight as onlookers await the result of the 2020 Fall Semester. 

What will the college do if there is an outbreak? How is testing being conducted after move-in? How can the college manage such a task with limited personnel? All of these questions have began circulating in anticipation of the Fall Semester and Saint Anselm College’s decision to have students back on the ground. 

An email sent out on Tuesday, September 15 by President Favazza alerted the college community of four new cases that day, and known contacts have been quarantined until further testing. While the college has been prepared for situations like this due to the contagiousness of the virus, students have remained hopeful for the remainder of the semester.

Matthew Michel ’24, a business major and member of the Saint Anselm Baseball team says “I think they [the college] have done a great job, especially compared to a lot of other schools you hear about”. Michel stated that while the restrictions are hard, they are “just something that we all have to get used to”.

To date, the college has done an extreme amount of planning and preparation in order to ensure that the students, faculty, and staff within the college community remain as safe and happy as possible. “Bubbles” have been created around residence halls in order to ensure isolation, masks are mandated outside of any living quarters, and most recently random testing of several high-risk populations of students including athletes and nursing students has begun. But will this be enough to ensure the students of Saint Anselm College remain on-campus for the duration of the 2020-2021 academic year?

Student nurses arrived early to assist in the testing and move-in process where only two students tested positive. (Saint Anselm College/Flickr)

Director of Health Services Maura Marshall warns of relaxation during this time though, as she says “I think people are putting too much trust in the testing and thinking it is a treatment or a cure”. While Marshall has dedicated her time to ensuring that all students understand the New Hampshire State and school guidelines, she also reminds students that “there is way too much movement on and off campus”. The “bubble” that has been set up around Saint Anselm College relies on compliance from all segments of the college, not just a couple. 

Despite the discovery of four new cases on campus though, the students and administration remain hopeful that the college will met the challenge and push forward. President Joseph A. Favazza says that the new cases are “not unexpected given our robust testing plan”, but also states that “we are prepared and have put our isolation and quarantine protocols in place”. 

The surveillance testing averages at testing 400 students per week, and as of Tuesday, September 15 the college had run over 3,000 tests. While the tests are focused on groups of high-risk students, the remainder of the tests are used among random samples of students in order to better manage the spread of the virus. Health Services conducts the tests within their office, and when there is a positive case direction is taken from the State Department of Public Health. 

The college has struggled, just like the rest of the world, to deal with the threat of this pandemic. However it can be seen through the guidelines and preparation put in place that the administration wants to keep the students on campus as long as possible. This is no small task though, as it requires the collaboration of an incredible amount of people in order to make the solution effective.

The responsibility now falls to all students, faculty and staff to ensure that the efforts of the college are not placed by the wayside. And instead, are pushed forward with every intent of staying on-campus for the remainder of the academic year.